When it rains, it doesn’t always pour. At least not always for everyone in trucking. Livestock haulers will get a respite from complying with the electronic logging device rule if the omnibus funding measure making its way across Capitol Hill this week becomes law.
Tucked into the gargantuan bill is a provision that declares that “the use of electronic logging devices by operators of commercial motor vehicles… transporting livestock” will not be required during federal fiscal year 2018, which runs from Oct. 1 2017 to Sept. 30 2018.
That means that the most recent ELD exemption covering livestock haulers issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will get stretched by over three six months
But missing from the bill’s 2,232 pages is a measure long pushed for by trucking interests that would prevent individual states from mandating meal and rest break for commercial drivers.
Reacting to that fact, Joe Rajkovacz, director of Governmental Affairs & Communications for the Western States Trucking Association, told HDT that “We are disappointed that Congress has once again ‘kicked the can down the road’ related to clarifying congressional intent over preempting state laws related to meal and rest break issues by not including language to resolve this issue once and for all.”
The $1.3 trillion package was approved by the House on March 22. The Senate must pass the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 by midnight on March 23 to avert another shutdown of the federal government.
As it stands now, the omnibus bill includes more than $21 billion for infrastructure projects across the country, including transportation, energy, water, and cyber, according to the House Appropriations Committee.
“The bill provides an increase of $10.6 billion above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level to begin to rebuild the nation’s aging infrastructure,” the committee stated in a summary sheet. “This funding is targeted to our nation’s airports, roads, bridges, rail, and community development, and will create jobs and spur economic growth.”
According to the House Appropriations Committee, the omnibus bill will:
- Provide $45 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal-aid Highways Program, which is $1 billion above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. This funding mirrors the FAST Act authorized levels and will provide much needed growth and improvements within America’s highway system. In addition, the bill provides an extra $2.5 billion in discretionary highway funding – a total increase of $3.5 billion for roads and bridges over fiscal year 2017.
- Fund the TIGER (National Infrastructure Investments) multimodal program at $1.5 billion, a $1 billion increase over the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. This program will fund states’ and local communities’ most critical transportation projects, and language is included in the bill to ensure that at least 30% of these funds go to rural communities.
- Fund the various transportation safety programs and agencies within the Department of Transportation. This includes $947 million in total budgetary resources for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an increase of $36 million over the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, and $845 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, $201 million above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. Also included is $272 million for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an increase of $8 million over the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. Within these amounts, the bill provides more than $100 million for research and demonstrations of automated vehicles, a technology that has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives.
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