Rounds introduces bill on trucker licenses

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., last week introduced a bill to exempt employees in certain farm-related service industries and employees of state, local, and tribal governments from entry-level driver training requirements for operating a commercial motor vehicle and allow states to issue restricted commercial driver’s licenses to owners and employees of certain small businesses, and for other purposes.

In 2012, then-President Obama signed into law legislation that set in motion a new rule that created a requirement for Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT). The final rulemaking went into effect earlier this year. All new drivers who wish to obtain their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) must now complete ELDT, adding a burdensome requirement at a time when the American Trucking Association estimates a nationwide trucker shortage of 80,000 drivers. Additionally, this requirement is costly and time consuming. ELDT training classes range from $450 to $8,500, depending on the trainer, and can take anywhere from three days to 20 days to complete.

Rounds’ legislation, the Trucking Regulations Unduly Constricting Known Service-providers (TRUCKS) Act, would allow states to issue a new “Small Business Restricted CDL” so ELDT requirements would not affect small businesses with nine CDLs or less. This would make certain any driver obtaining a CDL without completing the ELDT process could not switch to a larger company and bring a “Small Business Restricted CDL” with them. Further, it would protect small businesses from these constricting regulations so they can fill their positions in a timely manner and remain competitive in the industry. Additionally, the TRUCKS Act would allow states to exempt employees of agriculture-related industries, school districts and local units of governments (including county, municipal and tribal), from ELDT requirements to obtain their CDL.

“At a time when our nation is in a recession and faced with worker shortages and supply chain issues, American businesses should not have to battle the heavy hand of government,” said Rounds. “We should be working on policies to help our producers and consumers, not hurt them. This legislation eases the burden on small trucking companies, agricultural producers, school districts and local units of government. It also gives power back to the states so they can decide their own rules of the road.”

This legislation is supported by the Associated School Boards of South Dakota and has been endorsed by the U.S. Custom Harvesters.

“We’re appreciative of Sen. Rounds for recognizing the burden of duplicative regulation on our industry. The additional time and financial investment required by ELDT [Entry Level Driver Training] creates obstacles for harvesters to meet the demand of farmers. We support safety measures, however, when each state has existing strict safety measures and regulations in place that our members comply with, ELDT is unnecessary bureaucratic red tape,” said JC Schemper, U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc. board president.

–The Hagstrom Report and a Senator Rounds news release

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