A bill to more clearly define independent contractor truckers has received final passage by New York state lawmakers, but it does not endanger the owner-operator model as some say it earlier attempted to do.

Introduced early this year, the bill would originally have reclassified most independent contractor truckers as employees of trucking companies. That raised concerns among several trucking groups, including the New York State Motor Truck Association, because it would have forced fleets to withhold taxes from driver compensation, as well as paying worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance.

However, a deal negotiated at the 11th hour of the state Senate and Assembly’s final day of the regular session was passed and is now awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

“We were successful in amending the language that there should be no impact on the lease-purchase provision," says Kendra Hems, president of the New York State Motor Truck Association. “Our language here in New York [will] still allow still allow a lease-purchase between a carrier and an independent contractor, even if it is the carrier that the independent is contracted directly with.”

Adams says under the measure, whether a owner-operator trucker is leasing a rig from a carrier or owns the equipment, they or a fleet will not have to worry about their status as an independent contractor.

“We believe what we accomplished will keep the vast majority of truly independent contractors in New York continuing to do what they are doing today,” Hems says.

The bill does give New York more power when it comes to cracking down on operations that wrongly classify drivers as independent contractors rather than employee drivers.

Equipment Editor Jim Park also contributed to this story.

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