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January 2017

Posted By John Hausladen , Sunday, January 1, 2017
Updated: Monday, February 6, 2017

Smashing the Crystal Balls — If the election of 2016 taught us anything, it is that the pollsters and pundits had it all wrong. The pre-election data was way off and the results were stunning. Trump wins, Republicans retain control of both houses of Congress and Republicans take back control of the Minnesota Senate for the next four years. I’ll say it again: stunning. I won’t attempt to predict outcomes for 2017, but I am confident certain issues will be in play.

Regulatory Reform — The Regulatory Accountability Act will be a top priority in the 115th Congress. Bill Kovacs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce summed it up best: “Regulatory reform is about the role Congress plays in our constitutional system. For Congress to be a real check on agency overreach it needs to reclaim its full legislative authority by establishing clear standards for agency rulemaking and court review of the regulations. These standards are necessary to ensure agencies implement the intent of Congress, not the intent of the agency.” Look for President-elect Trump to immediately roll back numerous Obama executive orders and regulations, including the overtime exemption.

Transportation Funding and Tax Reform — Presidentelect Trump and Congress both have their eyes on corporate profits that have been earned and stashed oversees. There is little incentive to repatriate this cash at up to a 35 percent tax rate. However, Trump has championed a special corporate tax repatriation holiday rate where corporations would pay a tax rate of just ten percent to bring it back to the United States. Trump would use some of these dollars to offset tax credits for a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. He pledged action on this in the first 100 days. Congress, on the other hand, wants to use this money to achieve meaningful tax reform. With no appetite to increase the federal fuel tax by either party, it looks like tax reform and highway funding seem destined to be intertwined. Our goal, and that of the ATA, is to secure long-term sustainable funding in whatever package is developed.

A Big HOS Win — It took three swings, but it looks like we have permanently fixed the 34-hour restart issue. The Continuing Budget Resolution passed in early December retains the pre-2013 hours-of-service restart language and eliminates FMCSA’s bolt-on provisions requiring a restart to include two overnight periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. and limiting its use to once every 168 hours, IF a study that the Department of Transportation has been undertaking does not show benefits to driver health and safety. We believe the study will not demonstrate these benefits, and therefore the rules will revert back to their pre-2013 status.

F4A Looking Better — The new landscape in Washington, D.C. should also greatly improve the odds of strengthening the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (F4A) exemption. We seek to clarify that the exemption prohibits states from enacting or enforcing policies related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier, and that the scope extends to wage and hour laws, as well as employment laws, including: state meal and rest break requirements and state bans on piece rate pay.

Good Relationship DOT Pick Chao — The trucking industry has strong ties with U. S. Secretary of Transportationdesignee Elaine Chao. ATA President Chris Spear was the number three under Chao when she was Secretary of Labor under President Bush. Two additional staffers held keys posts as well, which should set the industry up for positive interaction and favorable results.

Driving Hands Free — Autonomous vehicles, including trucks, will be a hot topic at both the state and federal levels. The industry will push for a federal standard, while some technology vendors are already asking for a state-bystate approach. Wherever the discussion takes place, we need to have a seat at the table on this very important topic.

A Sure Thing in 2017 — One prediction I can make for 2017: We will work hard to be your effective voice.

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