Trucking wins in restart fight, loses on insurance increase

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Had Congress passed its original DOT funding bill earlier this year, it likely would have set deadlines for publication of a final rule mandating electronic logging devices, among other measures.Had Congress passed its original DOT funding bill earlier this year, it likely would have set deadlines for publication of a final rule mandating electronic logging devices, among other measures.

Truck operators no doubt scored a victory this month when Congress voted to suspend the 2013-implemented changes to rules dictating the use of a 34-hour restart.

They did, however, come up short elsewhere: Congress originally had packed into 2015 Department of Transportation funding legislation much more that would have impacted carriers and drivers.

For starters, the House’s original 2015 DOT-funding bill included provisions to stop FMCSA from pursuing a rulemaking to increase the minimum amount of liability insurance for carriers.

The lower chamber even passed the bill with that language included.

The Senate, however, derailed the whole matter and also shot down its own chances of directing FMCSA to publish a final electronic logging device mandate rule by January 2015 and a Safety Fitness Determination rule — which has been in the works since 2007 and could make the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program more palatable — by December 2014.

After Senate leadership couldn’t agree on procedural rules and stopped the bill from coming to a vote on the Senate floor, the legislative actions directing FMCSA on all of the above fell flat.

Though the 2015 omnibus appropriations bill cleared earlier this month by Congress and signed last week by the president did include the so-called Collins Amendment added to the Senate’s June-debated DOT funding bill, the industry struck out elsewhere.

The bill didn’t include the deadlines for an ELD mandate or a Safety Fitness Determination rule, nor did it include the blockade of the agency’s pursuit of increasing liability insurance minimums, which, as noted in Overdrive coverage earlier this week, likely will negatively impact owner-operators more than any other carriers in the industry.

One out of four is not all bad, especially when the ÂĽ inclusion was likely the one truck operators would have picked.

But Congressional dysfunction led to the derailing of other measures that could have helped carriers and drivers in the coming years.