TCA Vice President of Government Affairs, Dave Heller and TCA Manager of Government Affairs, Kathryn Sanner
As 2019 comes to a close and 2020 kicks into gear, now is a good time to prepare for the potential regulatory and legislative action that the trucking industry will see in the new year. We can expect big things in 2020, starting with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
First on the agenda is the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, which will go live on January 6. We doubt the rollout will be completely seamless, but the transparency that the Clearinghouse will bring to our industry regarding drivers’ drug testing history is a much-needed step forward. We may also finally see federal hair testing guidelines formally approved this year, which will further accelerate the Clearinghouse’s efforts.
FMCSA will also likely put forward a final rule on changes to the federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations in 2020. This rule change has been “fast tracked” by the Administration, and a notice in the Federal Register announcing the updates is expected in the spring or summer. While FMCSA unfortunately is not pursuing full sleeper berth flexibility, TCA is encouraged that the HOS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking discussed moving toward a 7/3 sleeper berth split along with many other important improvements.
On the legislative side, Congress will work to advance highway reauthorization legislation in 2020. The final bill will include many different trucking-related initiatives, and TCA is actively working to ensure the language provides the maximum benefit for our industry. This includes safety measures like mandates for speed limiters and automatic emergency breaking, provisions for improved truck parking, and funding to advance awareness of the job opportunities available in trucking.
This also includes revitalizing the Highway Trust Fund and the revenue streams available to improve our national infrastructure network, which can best be accomplished by increasing the federal fuel tax. TCA’s members are committed to paying more to reestablish our infrastructure system as the finest in the world. We encourage our lawmakers to take the necessary vote on an increased fuel tax as a part of highway reauthorization, because if we miss this chance in 2020, the opportunity will not present itself for many more years to come.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it demonstrates just how much is on the agenda for this year. Future generations will look back on 2020 for many reasons, particularly this year’s presidential election. But for the trucking industry, we’re sure it is a year that will go down in the history books as a positive one.