Unclear how Trump’s freeze on regs, Obamacare relaxer will impact trucking

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Updated Jan 29, 2017

Trump’s order to freeze regulations could impact a pending rule by FMCSA that sets national training standards for CDL applicants. Read the story at this link for more coverage:

President Trump issued Friday an order to executive agencies directing them to freeze all new regulations pending further review by Trump and his team. It’s unclear, however, whether this rule will affect any coming trucking regulations, especially since the administration’s memo, circulated by Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, allows for regulations related to “health, safety, financial or national security matters” to continue.

A spokesperson for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the impact of Priebus’ memo on pending regulations by the agency is “being assessed.”

The agency’s most recent report on coming regulations, issued in December, showed no new regulations on its calendar, following a dash at the end of former President Obama’s presidency to publish new rules.

Lane Kidd, director for the Trucking Alliance, said such memos are standard procedures for new presidential administrations. Kidd says barring further action, the rule to mandate electronic logging devices does not fall under the order, as it’s already law and is backed by a Congressional mandate. Also safe are the recently published rules to establish a CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and a rule to set national driver training standards, says Kidd.

–James Jaillet

Obamacare order also issued

Trump also Friday signed an executive order telling federal agencies to whatever extent possible reduce burdens resulting from Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) stipulations on individuals, businesses and state and local governments. It’s unclear just what, if anything, the order will do for owner-operators, carriers and company drivers in the near term.

The burdens to be relieved included those placed on “any State,” according to the text of the order. Likewise, any “cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.”

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Some saw the broad nature of the directive as little more than symbolic, signaling the importance the president attached to Congressional action on the ACA. In the view of others hopeful for swift change to elements of the ACA, the directive was thought to be potentially more consequential. Near-term agency action could include revision of the variety of federal guidances that underpin the implementation of the law – one potential change floated by commentators, for instance, would be regulatory revision of the qualifications for a so-called “hardship exemption” from the individual mandate to carry healthy. Loosen those qualifications and many more individuals might be able to avoid the penalty for not carrying insurance.

Just how far such revisions or other changes could go remained unclear, however.

Those elements of the ACA that bolster its structure, like the mandate for individuals to carry insurance or be taxed for not doing so, are likely to stand pending Congressional repeal (and replacement) or more cumbersome regulatory changes conducted via notice-and-comment rulemakings. As of this morning, reported MarketWatch.com, health-care stocks were showing relatively stable trading prices.

–Todd Dills

Editor’s note: The Entry-Level Driver Training Standards rule could be covered by Trump’s memo, as it has been published is not yet effective — a category specifically spelled out in Priebus’ memo.