ABMA Priority Legislation Update
Both houses of Congress are in recess this week and so ABMA took the opportunity to check in with staff for Members of Congress that are leading on our priority supply chain bills that will form the centerpiece of our advocacy next month during our Fly-In. Already we have a key measure introduced—H.R. 471, known as the SHIP IT Act (the Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act. This bill incorporates a number of policy proposals that we have been promoting, including facilitating CDL testing and issuance and tax credits to entice new truck drivers to take up trucking as a profession.
ABMA has signed on to a support letter that is being led by the Agriculture Transportation Working Group that will be transmitted to leadership in the House and Senate in March. This bill is a bi-partisan measure that enjoys support from organizations across the economy that rely on trucks for inbound and outbound raw material and finished products shipments.
We were also in touch with the American Trucking Association (ATA), which is also having a Fly-in day in early March and has prioritized the LICENSE Act—the Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently (LICENSE) Act. Recall this bill would make permanent two waivers issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the LICENSE Act, third-party CDL skills test examiners are permitted to administer a state’s CDL knowledge test, in addition to the skills test. This provision gives license seekers additional avenues to take both required tests from a state-certified third-party, thus minimizing potential testing delays. Furthermore, the bill allow states to administer the driving skills test to out-of-state license seekers regardless of where they received their training.
Rep. Darrin Lahood (R-IL) is leading the reintroduction efforts. Evidently, the one remaining hurdle that needs to be resolved before the bill is dropped is the status of a review required by Section 20 of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. The provision required Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to conduct a review of the COVID waiver allowing state or third-party examiners to administer both the skills and knowledge tests and, depending on that review, make the waiver permanent. According to staff, neither Congressional committee handling transportation issues have seen the results of that review, so Rep. LaHood’s team is trying to resolve this issue before moving forward.
We also checked in with Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s (D-VA) team on her Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act. This bill would create a new $7,500 refundable tax credit for existing drivers who drive at least 1,900 hours in the year and a $10,000 credit for new truck drivers or those enrolled in a trucking apprenticeship. Her staff reports that the bill will be reintroduced in the next few weeks as they are looking for an in-district opportunity to announce the measure. Rep. Spanberger is once again co-leading this bill with Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI).
Earlier in February, the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act of 2023 was reintroduced in the Senate by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mike Braun (R-IN), and in the House by Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Michael Turner (R-OH). This legislation (H.R.793/S.161) would expand federal Pell Grant eligibility to high-quality, short-term job training programs.
Currently, Pell Grants are not available to postsecondary career and technical education students in short-term certificate programs of less than 600 clock hours or 16 semester hours over 15 weeks. As a result, many students across the country do not have access to high-quality, short-term CTE programs that provide the skills necessary for in-demand careers for future employees and a qualified workforce pool for employers. ABMA will be supporting this legislation as part of our workforce development advocacy. The bill is a priority of the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and Advance CTE-a non-profit group of state CTE Directors and leaders of career and technical education.