Earlier this year, leaders of the House Supply Chain Caucus, led by Reps. David Rouzer (R-NC), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Colin Allred (D-TX), and Angie Craig (D-MN) conducted a roundtable discussion to outline remedies for ongoing supply chain challenges. The Hardwood Federation attended the briefing with about 50 other stakeholders – an unusually large number of participants, underscoring that supply chain challenges are evident across the economy. Lawmakers focused on the Hardwood Federation supported Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act (H.R. 471), which includes a number of policy proposals to entice new truck drivers to take up driving as a career. The bill also includes a truck weight pilot program for heavier trucks to travel on the nation’s interstate highway system and may move with a broader “supply chain package” this spring.
The Hardwood Federation also supports the bipartisan “Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act” (H.R. 2450), introduced by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA). This important bill will tackle the trucker shortage by promoting apprenticeships to address recruitment challenges within a severely understaffed and rapidly aging sector.
Specifically, H.R. 2450 would:
- Create a new refundable tax credit of up to $7,500 for truck drivers with a valid Class A CDL who drive at least 1,900 hours annually. This tax credit would last for two years (2023 and 2024).
- Create a new refundable tax credit of up to $10,000 for new truck drivers or individuals enrolled in a registered trucking apprenticeship. This tax credit would also last for two years.
- Allow new truck drivers to be eligible for the credit if they did not drive a commercial truck in the previous year or drive for at least 1,420 hours in the current year. They may receive a proportion of the credit if they drive less than 1,420 hours in the year, but drove at least an average of 40 hours a week upon starting to drive.
“When truck drivers don’t have a designated place to park, they end up parking on the side of the road, near exit ramps, or elsewhere.”
— Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
Also expected to move is the bipartisan Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently (LICENSE) Act, which promotes flexibility in the CDL certification process. This bill is being sponsored by Reps. Darin LaHood (R-IL), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Jim Costa (D-CA), and Henry Cuellar (D-TX). In a bid to reduce collision fraud, Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Garret Graves (R-LA), and Mike Bost (R-IL) are moving the Highway Accident Fairness Act.
Also worth noting, a bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled legislation that would authorize $755 million over three years to help alleviate the parking space shortage for truck drivers. This legislation, known as the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 2367), would authorize spending for competitive grants for projects that provide more parking for trucks and improve safety. In addition, it specifies that money disbursed under this bill must be used to create unpaid parking spots, meaning all parking under the bill must be publicly accessible and free of charge.
According to the sponsors, there is just one parking spot for every 11 trucks, forcing drivers to waste about an hour a day searching for safe parking. The co-leads in the House are Reps. Mike Bost (R-IL) and Angie Craig (D-MN). Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) are the main sponsors in the Senate on this bipartisan, bicameral bill. Trucker groups have been quick to weigh in. “When truck drivers don’t have a designated place to park, they end up parking on the side of the road, near exit ramps, or elsewhere,” said Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, endorsing the bill. “This isn’t safe for the driver, and it’s not safe for others on the road.” Lack of parking and the inherent stress in finding limited parking is yet another barrier to attracting new drivers – and keeping existing drivers – in the truck driving workforce. This bill would help break that barrier down.
The Hardwood Federation will continue to track these and other key issues vital to the industry. Thank you for your support.
Dana Lee Cole is the executive director at the Hardwood Federation, a Washington, D.C.-based hardwood industry trade association that represents thousands of hardwood businesses in every state in the United States and acts as the industry advocacy voice on Capitol Hill. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.