Amendment for another year of livestock ELD exemption makes it on to Senate spending bill

  Photo: Truckstockimages.com

Photo: Truckstockimages.com

An amendment that would grant a one-year ELD exemption to the livestock industry was approved by voice vote in the U.S. Senate Tuesday, tacking it on to a broader appropriations bill.

The amendment was sponsored by Sen. Deb Fischer (Republican-Nebraska). It is in somewhat of the companion Senate legislation to a bipartisan piece of legislation introduced in late May that would, among other things, also extend the livestock exemption for another year. That bill was referred to a House committee but online records show no further action on it since then.

By contrast, the amendment by Fischer was adopted as part of an appropriations bill that the Congress is trying to complete. The Fischer amendment was attached to the Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act of 2019.

“Nebraskans who transport livestock face unique challenges," Fischer said in a prepared statement. "The Senate passed my amendment to delay electronic logging device requirements for livestock haulers for one year. With this extension, we will have more time to bring common-sense to these rules and provide additional flexibility.”

Livestock haulers currently have an exemption that runs through September 30. The industry has argued that the unique nature of livestock hauling will lead to significant problems with a hard ELD enforcement.

The bill is targeted at the same issue of ELDs and livestock that Fischer's counterpart Ben Sasse, also a Republican from Nebraska, was focusing on in his own piece of legislation. But the Sasse bill has gotten even less visible traction than the House bill; the Congress.gov site lists it only as being introduced.

Fischer also introduced--and had approved--an amendment that seeks to have the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration "ensure the safe and timely completion" of its flexible sleeper berth pilot program. That program was introduced last year, but a FMCSA web page laying out the progress on the pilot program shows it behind schedule. The program would look at flexibility in the Hours of Service rule regarding how a driver can spread out sleep and still stay in line with the mandate. An email to Sen. Fischer’s office on what the senator was seeking under this amendment was not answered by the time of publication.