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Catherine Treadwell Perry, J.D., Director of Government Relations
|The DRIVE Safe Act Can Help ASA Members Transportation Issues
Transportation has been a growing issue over the last few years. The lack of drivers available coupled with the regulations and demands that the current drivers are facing causes a huge problem in the trucking and transportation world. A report from the American Trucking Associations says more than 70 percent of goods consumed in the U.S. are moved by truck, but the industry needs to hire almost 900,000 more drivers to meet rising demand. ASA members have been facing transportation issues, as well!
What is causing the driver shortage? There are many factors, but the main combination seems to be an aging fleet of drivers, demographics such as retirement, and the lifestyle of a trucker. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average age of a commercial truck driver in the U.S. is 55 years old. As far as retirement goes, the trucking industry as a whole is normally 10 years ahead (or older) to other comparable industries. Thus, due to age and retirement taking place earlier, trucking is not seeing the recruitment it needs to have a way to fill those positions. Lack of truck drivers coupled with overly burdensome regulations such as, Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) and hour of service regulations have caused a transportation shortage!
That brings me to the question of how can we help this bleeding industry? ASA Advocacy has been on The Hill meeting with offices to promote and recruit co-sponsors for the DRIVE Safe Act. The DRIVE Safe Act would help implement a 400 hour apprenticeship program for truck drivers that are 18-20 years old so that they would be able to drive state to state. The current law only allows drivers that are 21 years or older to drive state to state. The program would consist of two probationary periods. The first one being 120 hours with 80 hours being “on duty” driving with an experienced driver. The second is a 280 hours with 160 hours of “on duty” driving. Both of these periods have performance benchmarks that must be met in order to pass. There are also technology requirements such as automatic or auto manual transmission, active break mechanism, speed governors, and forward facing video cameras.
The bill, so far, has 55 co-sponsors, but needs more democrats to ensure it is bi-partisan. Last week I met with Congressman Steve Cohen’s (D-TN) office to talk about the bill. Congressman Cohen sees this bill being incorporated in the FAST Act. However, he has not taken a position yet. Unfortunately, he has been hearing from opposition such as the Teamsters and safety activists that oppose this bill. That is why your help is so important!
Congress needs to hear from YOU! Congress needs to hear that our industry supports the DRIVE Safe Act and what it can do to alleviate the truck driver shortage for our industry. Please click here to send a letter to your members of Congress. Also, please forward the link to your employees, and if they wish, they can send letters too! There is power in numbers and ASA needs your help to make sure Congress knows how important the DRIVE Safe Act is to our industry!
- President Donald Trump raised the United States' tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods on Friday to 25 percent after late-night talks on Thursday failed to provide any kind of breakthrough, although the White House said negotiations remain ongoing. China's Ministry of Commerce has said it will take "necessary countermeasures," but didn't say what those countermeasures would be.
- Before Trump threatened to raise the tariffs, Washington last week received a diplomatic cable from Beijing detailing extensive edits to the nearly 150-page draft trade agreement that negotiators from the United States and China had spent months on, three U.S. government sources and three private sector sources briefed on the talks said. China had deleted its commitments on core concerns from the United States, including theft of U.S. intellectual property and forced technology transfers.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) introduced a plan to cap credit card interest rates at 15 percent, calling current rates, which they said can be as high as 30 percent, "extortion and loan sharking." The proposal, which would also allow the U.S. Postal Service to compete with banks and offer financial services, is likely to be opposed by the banking industry.
- The Trump administration has proposed changing how the government calculates the official definition of poverty based on inflation, which could result in fewer people remaining eligible for federal safety-net programs such as Medicaid. The measure would also affect the size of premium tax credits on the Affordable Care Act individual market and could cause a gradual but significant rise in premiums.
- President Donald Trump called on Congress to work on bipartisan legislation protecting Americans from surprise medical bills - bills that hold patients responsible for care they expected their insurance to cover - and said legislation should stop practices that allow patients to be charged extra when they receive out-of-network emergency care. The president also said he backs drug importation as a method for states to curtail drug costs. (CNBC)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unveiled a new plan to combat the opioid epidemic, calling for $100 billion in funding over the next decade and laws that would send pharmaceutical executives to jail on charges of criminal negligence if they knowingly helped fuel the addiction crisis. In addition, the Democratic presidential candidate will donate to charity $2,500 she received from members of the Sackler family - which founded and ran Purdue Pharma - during her 2018 Senate reelection campaign, according to an aide. (Politico)
- Two internal memos show that senior Environmental Protection Agency officials disregarded dozens of EPA experts that pressed for a full ban on new uses of asbestos, choosing instead to allow potential approval of future uses of the carcinogenic substance, as the agency has permitted as of April.
- Former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden (D) is working on a climate change platform with the intent of appealing to the "middle ground," according to Heather Zichal and a former Energy Department official, who are advising Biden on climate change. The policy is likely to include keeping the United States within the Paris climate accord and retaining emissions and fuel economy regulations, and it may also support both nuclear energy and fossil fuel resources, said the sources. (Reuters)
- The House Judiciary Committee voted 24-16 along party lines to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress after Trump asserted executive privilege to block lawmakers from seeing special counsel Robert Mueller's full report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said there "might be some other contempt of Congress issues that we want to deal with" when the House votes to censure Barr for refusing to provide the unredacted version of Mueller's report. Those remarks came days after the speaker accused Trump of "goading" House Democrats into proceeding with impeachment.
- The House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed the Trump administration after Mnuchin rejected the panel's request for six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns.
- The House passed a $19.1 billion aid package for victims of recent natural disasters, adding about $1.8 billion for damaged military facilities, highways and water infrastructure. The 257-150 vote came as Republicans and Democrats in the Senate continue negotiations on a separate aid package, the progress of which has remained stymied amid Trump's opposition to more funding for Puerto Rico.
- The House and Senate are in session.
- Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time ASA Advocacy is holding a webinar pertaining to Prop 65
- Thursday ASA Advocacy will be at the High Performance Buildings Coalition meeting
- Friday the Small Business Administration is holding a OSHA/ Small Business Roundtable
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
|Update on State Bills Being Tracked
- Texas (HB 2998) – Deals with replacing lead drinking water service lines and other lead bearing products in the drinking water systems for schools and child care centers. The bill failed to receive affirmative vote in committee on May 6. 2019.
- No new state legislative activity announced over the last week potentially impacting ASA members.
President Donald Trump says China wants a deal, but Wall Street is not totally convinced there will be one.
Stocks steadied Wednesday after two days of brutal selling that particularly slammed companies and sectors with exposure to China, like Caterpillar and the semiconductor industry. The market lost its gains late in the day, and the Dow closed barely higher while the S&P 500 was down 4, at 2,879.
House Democrats hope to sidestep the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a bill that would ban asbestos within a year.
In a Wednesday hearing before the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, Democrats grilled EPA chemical staff on why the agency hasn’t taken more restrictive actions on the harmful substance three years after passing a law to give the agency more authority to regulate dangerous chemicals.
Use of prescription opioids such as OxyContin or Vicodin fell at a record rate last year as the U.S. government cracks down on pharmacists and drugmakers that dispense the sometimes lethal painkillers, according to a report published Thursday.
Prescription opioid use in the U.S. was down 17% in 2018, marking the largest annual decline ever recorded, research firm IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science said.
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