Senate passes transportation bill

03/14/2012 04:49:00 PM
Tom Karst

The Senate passed a two-year reauthorization of the Surface Transportation bill by a wide margin on March 14, and trucking industry advocates urged the House of Representatives to move quickly to pass a companion bill.

“It is certainly not a long term fix, but it gets things moving in the right direction,” said Joe Rajkovacz, regulatory affairs specialist with the Grain Valley, Mo.-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

He said the next step is moving a surface transportation reauthorization bill in the House of Representatives. The current transportation legislation expires at the end of March.

Passing the Senate by a margin of 74-22, S. 1813 authorizes more than $100 billion in appropriations of out of the Highway Trust.

Fund equal to current federal highway spending plus inflation for fiscal year 2012 and 2013. Democrats say the bill will fix 70,000 bridges and provide 2.8 million jobs.

“I urge the House to move on this bill,” John Rockefeller IV, D-W.V., chairman of the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee, said in a news release March 14. Rockefeller said the legislation would establish a clear and unified mission for federal surface transportation and freight networks.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Grain Valley, Mo.-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said in a news release the bill reforms freight broker rules, addresses the truck parking shortage and evaluates truck cab crashworthiness standards.

The Senate bill also favored an amendment by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., which would prevent U.S. highway tax dollars from being diverted for privatized highways/toll roads.

While the bill has a troublesome mandate for Electronic On-Board Recorder, Spencer said in the release that the group would try to remove the mandate in the House version of the bill, which has not yet been taken up. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has challenged the EOBR mandate based on Constitutional grounds of invasion of privacy, Rajkovacz said.



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