Senate passes sleep apnea bill, president’s signature would make it law

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sleep apneaThe U.S. Senate passed last week a two-page piece of legislation — the so-called sleep apnea bill — that would require that any action taken by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pertaining to sleep disorder screening for trucking companies come via formal rulemaking and not guidance, as the agency had previously hinted it planned to do.

The bill now moves on to President Barack Obama, who can make the bill law with his signature.

Kevin Hall, communications director for bill co-sponsor Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), said the Senate’s vote was unanimous. The House cleared the bill with a unanimous vote, 405-0, Sept. 26.

The bill does not require that FMCSA take any action related to sleep disorder screening. It only prevents FMCSA from using guidance to issue what would essentially be informal rules, which, according to House bill sponsor Rep. Larry Buschon (R-Md.), would make carriers vulnerable to lawsuits.

It also would not allow the rule to be fully analyzed before becoming a regulation, Buschon said in a letter to colleagues last month when rallying support for the bill.

The legislation is supported by the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

After the House introduced the bill, FMCSA issued a statement saying it would pursue rulemaking on sleep apnea screening rather than guidance.

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