The trucking industry "must act, and act decisively" to work with the Obama administration for legislation favorable to trucking, Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) president Chris Burruss said in his address March 10 at the group’s annual meeting in Orlando FL.
Key among issues that demand immediate action are the Highway Reauthorization Bill and the diversion of highway funds earmarked for transportation projects to other things.
"Even with the elimination of diversion, the Highway Trust Fund will not be able to meet its current obligations for future infrastructure improvements," Burruss said. "Because of this, we must determine what we as an industry—and we as an organization—can support. Otherwise, we will be on the receiving end of some historic, hard-to-absorb or pass-along taxes, particularly when these increased taxes and fees are used by the government to spend more on projects unrelated to transportation."
He said the trucking industry "must defend against policies it disagrees with, and must actively promote those that are in harmony with our existing policies."
Burruss noted that the hours-of-service regulations are still not resolved, regulations for electronic onboard recorders are expected to be more extensive than originally thought, and entry-level driver training rules will be coming, as well.
"We have our work cut out for us," he said, "and we must be vigilant."
He predicted state associations will bear the burden of a number of issues as state budgets continue to shrink and government agencies start dusting off tax codes in a search for more revenue.
Because industry associations and groups "cannot impact any issue without member involvement and volume," he urged attendees to get involved—and to stay involved.
"Our enemies are well-organized and well-funded, vocal and visible. We have the potential to be the same, and we must be the same. We are a vast industry, and we must become the kind of constituency that elected leaders fear: angry, frustrated, determined, and motivated.
"We must work together as an industry to solve problems, Burruss said, "and work as one against those who would see us taxed and restricted more.
"We have the collective power," he said. "We only have to harness it and use it. If we do that, we are a force to be reckoned with."