Congress reintroduces key trucking legislation

The LICENSE Act would streamline burdensome licensing regulations.
Truck driver May 2023
The trucking industry is facing a shortage of as many as 80,000 drivers.

Additional legislation that would benefit the trucking industry is back in the fold.

The Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently (LICENSE) Act of 2023 has been reintroduced in the 118th Congress by a group of bipartisan House lawmakers.

Legislators include U.S. Representatives Darin LaHood (D-IL), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Jim Costa (D-CA), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), and Josh Harder (D-CA). 

The LICENSE Act would streamline burdensome licensing regulations by making permanent several waivers that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented in response to COVID-19, according to the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA).

The NLBMDA is behind the bill and said it would allow state and third-party examiners who have maintained a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) test examiner certification and have previously completed a CDL skills test examiner training course to administer the CDL knowledge test without completing a CDL knowledge test training course. 

The continued availability of CDL knowledge testing will help maintain an adequate and sustained supply of trained truck drivers, the association said.

Additionally, the LICENSE Act would also allow states to administer driving skills tests to applicants from other states. This will streamline the credentialing process and allow future truck drivers to be tested where they live, rather than solely where they received training.

Calling it a “priority that will address America’s supply chain and truck driver shortages,” the NLBMDA has gotten behind the legislation. The NLBMDA is also encouraging members to contact elected officials and ask them to cosponsor and pass the LICENSE Act of 2023 (H.R.3013).

This legislation joins trucking bills introduced earlier this year, designed to improve the supply chain and put more drivers on the road at a faster rate.

Last month,  U.S. Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R.2450 - Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act of 2023) to help address America’s truck driver shortage.

The proposed legislation establishes a refundable income tax credit for qualified commercial truck drivers. 

The trucking industry is currently facing a shortage of 78,000 to 80,000 drivers and 41,000 technicians. But over the next decade, trucks will be expected to move 2.4 billion more tons of freight than they already do today, according to American Trucking Associations (ATM).

Also, the median age for a truck driver is between 51 and 52 years old, demonstrating that the need for more drivers will be even greater in the coming years.

NLBMDA logo May 2023
The NLBMDA is supporting three pieces of trucking legislation in 2023.

With supply chain limitations and a tight labor pool both impacting the industry, the NLBMDA has listed the Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act as one of its key priorities for 2023.

This bill is designed to recruit new truck drivers and retain existing truck drivers through tax credits for the next 2 years, offering $10,000 for new drivers and $7,500 for existing drivers. The policy also allows for drivers to apply for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grants to cover driver schooling costs.

Other highlights of the SHIP IT Act include:

  • Allowing states to opt into pilot programs that permit trucks with at least six axles to weigh up to 91,000 pounds on interstate highways;
  • Provides the Secretary of Transportation the authority to relax truck weight limits during emergencies to help with relief efforts;
  • Makes it easier for people to become truck drivers by streamlining the CDL process, making it easier for states and third parties to administer CDL tests; and
  • Expands access to truck parking and rest facilities for commercial truck drivers.

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