The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a six-year highway bill after two days of debate on amendments. By a final vote of 363 to 64, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 (the STRR Act) will now move to a reconciliation process with the Senate bill passed in summer 2015.
Passage of the bill did not come before there were several additional trucking-related amendments voted on in a second day of debate over the six-year, $325 billion package. Among them, an amendment aimed at giving truckers relief from California’s minimum wage and rest break laws was approved November 4 by the House. A provision to add hundreds of thousands of safe but Department of Transportation-unrated trucking companies to a proposed carrier hiring standard was withdrawn, however. Language to undo existing highway bill provisions that remove CSA scores and launch a graduated CDL program for truck drivers under 21 years old both failed.
The California-related amendment by Rep Jeff Denham (R-CA) prohibits states from imposing labor laws or regulations on companies whose employees are subject to federal DOT hours of service (HOS) rules. Additionally, states may not enact or enforce laws that require a motor carrier that pays employees on a piece-rate basis to pay those employees separate or additional compensation, provided the compensation is equal to or greater than the applicable hourly minimum wage of the state.
In other trucking-related legislation, an amendment offered by Rep Lois Frankel (D-FL)called for carrier safety scores to remain publicly available during the study of the CSA program required by the highway bill, and the amendment would add a provision to the hiring standard to prohibit the hiring of “high risk carriers” as defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and removes several studies.
That amendment failed on a voice vote.