On Wednesday, Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-SD-At Large) and Jim Costa (D-CA-21) introduced the Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Truckers (SHIP IT) Act. The legislation attempts to address a number of issues that have constrained truck shipments and have prevented new truckers from entering the trucking workforce. In short, the bill would:
- Modernize the authority for certain vehicle waivers during emergencies, allowing waivers in response to disease and supply chain emergencies
- Allow truck drivers to apply for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grants
- Incentivize new truck drivers to enter the workforce through targeted and temporary tax credits
- Streamline the CDL process, making it easier for states and third parties to administer CDL tests
- Expand access to truck parking and rest facilities for commercial drivers
The press release accompanying the bill’s introduction notes that the median age of commercial truck drivers on the road today is between 51 and 52 years old. Moreover, the American Trucking Association estimates that the American economy is currently short about 80,000 truck drivers.
Rep. Johnson serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee where this legislation was referred. This is a broad bipartisan bill that incorporates aspects of two other ABMA-supported supply chain measures—the LICENSE Act and the Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act.
The LICENSE Act (Licensing Individual Commercial Exam Takers Now Safely and Efficiently Act) authorizes third-party commercial drivers license (CDL) skills test examiners to also administer a state’s CDL knowledge test, allowing license seekers additional avenues to take both required tests from a single source instead of having to take the tests from different vendors. The bill also allows states to administer the driving skills test to out-of-state license seekers regardless of where they received their training. Currently, license seekers have to take the skills test in the same state in which they were trained. These are two common sense reforms to the existing system that will expedite CDL issuance.
ABMA checked in with the American Trucking Association, who indicated the bill is being retooled a bit to make it more politically viable. The provisions described above will remain the same, but language allowing commercial learners permit (CLP) holders to ride in the truck’s sleeper berth as long as a CDL holder is on board may come out of the bill. In any event, we expect reintroduction of this legislation in the coming weeks. Recall that the LICENSE Act was a bicameral, bipartisan bill that enjoyed broad support in the 117th Congress. We are hopeful we can move this through both chambers and to the President’s desk this year.
Likewise, the Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act is being readied for reintroduction. Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI-8) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-7) are once again leading the effort in the lower chamber. Recall that the legislation would authorize a lucrative refundable tax credit for new truck drivers and those enrolled in a trucking apprenticeship. The sponsors are looking for endorsing organizations to lend their names to the bill by February 1. ABMA has communicated to the Gallagher and Spanberger teams that we strongly support the bill and its reintroduction in the 118th Congress.
These are just a few of what is expected to be many supply chain bills introduced this Congress. ABMA will be advocating in support of these measures and others as we settle into the new Congress and look for opportunities to advance these measures as the year progresses.