Fuel Smarts

New Bills Would Postpone Final Hours Rule

April 12, 2001

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Reform of truck driver hours of service rules is likely to take at least another year – and now two legislators have introduced bills that would push any changes even further into the future.

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., and Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., want to ensure congressional review of any proposal before it is final. They introduced identical bills that say the rule could not take effect until 180 days after it is sent to Congress.
A spokesman for Terry explained that the proposal reprises a similar bill Terry offered last year. With the support of his Trucking Advisory Group, which includes Nebraska-based Werner Enterprises and Crete Carrier Corp., Terry added the 180 day delay to last year’s bill, and reintroduced it, the spokesman said.
Terry wants to make sure the current proposal is never final, he said.
Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn., said his group supports the bill. "We think it’s a pretty good idea," he said.
Other trucking interests are not yet on the record.
Meanwhile, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration contractors are plowing through the immense docket on hours of service that was built during last year’s period of public comment.
The comments are being organized by Conwal, McLean, Va. Paul Brennan, a former senior agency official, is reviewing the comments and preparing a summary. Brennan, who retired from the Department of Transportation at the end of 1999, is the principal author of the hours of service proposal.
It will be late May or early June before the agency will be ready to make a recommendation on how the process should proceed, according to an agency spokesman. FMCSA Assistant Administrator Julie Anna Cirillo has said she does not expect any final action until next year.
In any event, the agency is prohibited by law from taking any final action before Oct. 1 this year. And, should the Terry-Inhofe bills become law, a final rule would take even longer.

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