Reports say Senate version of a highway bill next in line

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Updated May 6, 2014

Politico’s daily “Morning Transportation” news mailer yesterday held this little nugget relative to a Congressional version of a highway bill: 

highway_shot MoDOT ODHIGHWAY BILL TOO? Senate EPW Chairwoman Barbara Boxer has said she hopes to put out a transportation bill “early next week.” We’ve heard some ambitious timelines that didn’t exactly work out (like an April markup for the bill), so you’d be forgiven for doubting her timeframe. But you might not want to question her this time around – several senators told MT the bill should be out next week, as planned. “I haven’t seen the final text but we’ve been working in a bipartisan way,” said Barrasso, one of EPW’s “big four” working on the bill. “We’re headed in the right direction.” Sen. Cardin said that “there is a fairly good consensus on the framework to get started. I don’t think that will be the final bill, but it gets us started on the process.” A lobbyist who took part in a Thursday meeting with Boxer and staff said a release is definitely imminent: “I could see it getting kicked a few days as they finish working out the details, but they are definitely going to release a bill soon,” the source told MT.

What exactly could be in it is anybody’s guess, but if it at all resembles what the Obama administration put out early this week, here’s hoping it walks back from what critics are saying amounts to a wholesale abandonment of the user fee of the fuel tax as the primary, dedicated funding mechanism for the National Highway System and into more murky areas. What’s more, the Obama draft bill, as reported by James Jaillet here in Overdrive on Tuesday, includes expansive tolling provisions relative to the placing of tolls on existing interstates. (And yeah, I don’t know either how I knew it was coming when I pointed out Anthony Foxx’s seeming turn toward toll-friendliness in this post Tuesday morning, just before the bill’s release.)

You can join a lively conversation on detention- and other on-duty not-driving time pay under this linked post about other provisions in the bill. Some of the perspectives on a provision that would mandate employee-driver detention pay from carriers of at least the federal minimum wage follow: 

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From the discussion on Overdrive‘s Facebook page
Gary Gilbert: 80-hour weeks. 38-hour pay. Detention pay is overdue.

Huck Northcutt: Make it the shippers and receivers. Not the carriers.

Ric Hylton: Make shippers/recievers pay…detention will magically disappear.

Bruce Kallenbach: I believe it will help, but make sure these big shippers and receivers don’t throw more stupid rules in front of truckers.

Dennis Olson: Please no! I can’t afford any more government help! … Some customers don’t pay — I just never go back and haul for them! If you can’t afford to not haul for a bad customer, you should look at your business model! Company drivers, go work someplace that pays their drivers. 

William McKelvie: So what is the great law going to do, drop the current rate to minimum wage? Would not surprise me, not one bit.

Weigh in yourself via the comments below or on our Facebook page. 

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