CCJ Daily Dispatch, June 19: Congress again eyes increasing insurance minimums for carriers

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Trucking news and briefs for Friday, June 19, 2020:

Liability insurance increase amendment added to highway bill
An amendment to the U.S. House’s Invest in America highway bill that would increase the liability insurance minimum requirements for carriers from $750,000 to $2 million cleared its first hurdle Wednesday, passing a vote for the rider to be included in the bill when it is sent to the full House floor.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Illinois), would also require the insurance minimum to be adjusted every five years for inflation. Last summer, Garcia co-sponsored legislation that would have increased minimum liability limits to nearly $5 million, but the bill never made it past the subcommittee level.

The amendment passed by a tally of 37-27 during a markup session in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. All voting representatives voted along party lines, with Democrats voting “yes” and Republicans voting “no” for the increase.

After the committee completes its markup, which has extended into Thursday due to a high number of proposed amendments, the full bill will be sent to the House floor for a vote. As CCJ‘s James Jaillet wrote following the bill’s introduction, it faces an uphill battle if it clears the House and moves on to the Republican-controlled Senate. Trucking policy riders attached to the bill could still make their way into future iterations of a highway funding bill should this one die out in the Senate.

The winner of the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence program will receive a new Kenworth T680.The winner of the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence program will receive a new Kenworth T680.

Nominations sought for top rookie military veteran trucker award
The nomination period is now open for the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” program that recognizes America’s top military veteran rookie truck driver.

Fastport, Kenworth and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative are joining together for the fifth consecutive year to put on the program. The nomination deadline is July 31, 2020. Nomination forms can be found here.

The winner of the award will receive a new Kenworth T680 equipped with a 76-inch sleeper and a Paccar MX-13 engine with a Paccar 12-speed automated transmission and Paccar 40K tandem rear axles.

The top driver will be determined by a panel of judges. To qualify, drivers must meet four eligibility requirements:

  • Must have been active military or member of the National Guard or Reserve
  • Graduated from a trucking school that is PTDI-certified, or a member of the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools or Commercial Vehicle Training Association, and hold a valid CDL
  • Employed by a trucking company that has made a hiring commitment and pledge to hire veterans on the Trucking Track Mentoring Program website
  • First hired in a trucking position between Jan. 1, 2019, and July 31, 2020

Oversize/overweight haulers’ 30-minute break waiver extended
The Specialized Carriers & Riggers Association announced this week that the waiver from the 30-minute break for oversize and overweight carriers has been extended. The waiver was set to expire June 17, and the group says there will be no lapse in the the waiver’s coverage.

The exemption was first granted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in June 2015. SC&RA says the renewal extends the waiver through June 18, 2025.

The waiver applies to all specialized carriers and drivers responsible for oversize and overweight loads that require a government-issued permit.

Two fireworks companies get HOS waiver extended
Two fireworks hauling companies have received a waiver renewal from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration allowing their drivers to drive beyond their 14th hour on duty during the Independence Day holiday period.

The waiver applies to drivers of 60 trucks for Illumination Fireworks Partners and Ace Pyro from June 28-July 8 for the next five years.

These drivers will be allowed to exclude off-duty and sleeper-berth time of any length from their 14-hour window. They will not be allowed to drive after accumulating 14 hours of on-duty time, and they will still be subject to the 11-hour driving time limit and the 60- and 70-hour on-duty limits.

The two companies have been operating under the same exemption since 2016.