August 15, 2018 12:15 PM
Livestock haulers have been attempting to get the hours of service rules fixed through the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulation that went in place for most truckers last December, and a bi-partisan solution might have the solutions they need.
Enforcement of ELDs for livestock transport could have another extension thanks to an amendment passed by the Senate through the “minibus” spending bill. The amendment delays implementation of the ELD mandate until Sept. 30, 2019, for livestock haulers. However, the House and President Trump still need to approve the bill before the extension goes into effect.
The extension is merrily a “stopgap” says Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
The potential fix would be legislation co-sponsored by Senators Heitkamp and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) called the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act (TLAASA).
“I haven’t given up getting some kind of permanency to a fix here yet, this year before the end of September,” Heitkamp says.
TLAASA has several provisions that would increase the operating hours that truckers need when transporting livestock.
For instance, the hours of service on-duty time maximum hour requirement is extended from 11 hours to a minimum of 15 hours and a maximum of 18 hours of on-duty time. Unloading, loading and waiting to do either while parked wouldn’t count in the calculation of time on-duty.
“We’re pushing hard. We’ll take the extension if that’s all we can get, but that does not solve the problem on hours of service,” Heitkamp says.
A majority of livestock groups came out in support of TLAASA when it was debuted by 11 Senators in May, including the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA).
Steve Hilker, owner of Steve Hilker Trucking Inc., in Cimarron, Kan. and USCA Transportation Committee Chairman, has been active on Capitol Hills for the past three years talking with members of Congress about the impacts of the ELD enforcement on hours of service.
Hilker says discussions early on were difficult because many members of the House and Senate did not understand how livestock are hauled across the country, let alone hours of service. Recently those discussions have turned from less about education to talking about the issues and Hilker thinks TLAASA will be a good solution with more support from other Senators.
“The bi-partisanship on this TLAASA bill, you know it’s kind of a new thing up there (in Washington DC). Everybody kind of draws a line in the sand. Well we’ve got really good bipartisan support. We just need more of it,” Hilker says.
There is a House version of TLAASA that was sponsored by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), who is a veterinarian in Florida. The House bill has the backing of 48 Representatives, including Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).