Advocacy and Policy Updates

Advocacy, Legislative and Policy Updates



NAFA's Advocacy, Legislative and Policy Updates

 A continued commitment to advocate for NAFA members and the fleet industry

2020 US Legislative, Policy and Regulatory Issues

March 26, 2020 Update
 
FMCSA Announces CDL Waivers
 
On March 24, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted until June 30, 2020, a waiver from certain regulations applicable to interstate and intrastate commercial driver's license (CDL) and commercial learner's permit (CLP) holders and to other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). 
 
The Agency has initiated this action in response to the President's declaration of a national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The FMCSA notice is available here.
 
U.S. Canda-Mexico Borders Closed to Non-Essential Travel
 
On March 20, 2020, the U.S. agreed to restrict non-essential travel across the northern and southern borders with Canada and Mexico to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. "Non-essential" travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreation. Trade and business travel will continue to operate across the borders, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will continue to process cargo shipments. 
 
The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) has published a fact sheet on measures being taken on the border to limit the further spread of coronavirus.
 
DHS Issues Essential Workforce Guidance 
 
On March 19, the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) circulated a memo on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During Covid-19 Response. The list identifies industries, such as transportation and logistics, that are essential to the viability of critical infrastructure. The list is intended to guide jurisdictions considering COVID-19-related restrictions. The list is advisory, not a federal directive or standard.
 
Coronavirus Relief Bill Signed into Law and IRS Issues Guidance
 
On March 18, 2020, H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, was signed into law. The emergency relief package bill includes paid sick and family and medical leave-related provisions that will impact employers. Employers will be reimbursed for the cost of providing the paid leave required by the legislation.
 
To assist employers and employees on knowing their responsibilities and rights under the Act, the Department of Labor (DOL) has released a series of questions and answers on the law. Additionally, the U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the DOL released a memo on March 20, 2020, with key takeaways and information for businesses on how the law will be implemented.
 
COVID-19 Stimulus Expected to Pass by End-of-Week
 
Barring any last-minute holdups, Congress is expected to pass a $2 trillion economic stimulus package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, by the end of the week in response to the COVID-19 virus. A bipartisan deal was reportedly reached on March 25, 2020.
 
The final package is anticipated to include $1,200 individual payments to many Americans, $350 billion in aid to small businesses, $500 billion to back loans and assistance to companies with a portion set aside for state and local governments, and $150 billion for hospitals and other health-care providers for equipment and supplies.
 
Lawmakers expect additional stimulus and relief bills in response to COVID-19 to emerge in the coming weeks.
 
FMCSA Expands Emergency Declaration for Commercial Vehicles
 
On March 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an expanded national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
 
FMCSA expanded upon the original emergency declaration and now provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:
  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19.
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants.
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
  • Immediate precursor raw materials—such as paper, plastic or alcohol—that are required and to be used for the manufacture of essential items.
  • Fuel.
  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine.
  • Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes.
  • Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services.
 
Once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the driver must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers.
 

March 20, 2020 Update

 

COVID-19 Declared National Emergency

On March 13, the President declared the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak a national emergency. This move invokes powers under the Stafford Act, which allows substantially more federal aid to states and local governments in combating COVID-19 outbreaks across the U.S. The White House has also issued Coronavirus Guidelines for America.

 

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. As of March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) is characterizing the virus as a pandemic.


OSHA Publishes COVID-19 Guidance for Workplaces

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 to help employers as they work to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on their businesses, workers, customers, and the public.

 

While the guidance is not a standard or regulation, OSHA is strongly encouraging employers to increase their preparedness, as there is a high level of uncertainty as to how the COVID-19 situation will develop or worsen.

 

Emergency FMCSA Action to Ease Hours of Service Requirements

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

FMCSA’s declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:
 

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19.
  • Supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for healthcare worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities.
  • Food for emergency restocking of stores.
  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19.
  • Persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
  • Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services.

Once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the driver must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers.

 

Publication of Self-Driving Car Rule Anticipate

On March 13, the Administration has finished its review of a forthcoming proposed rule on how to regulate cars without human controls from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA rule is expected to amend crashworthiness regulations that may be necessary to facilitate the certification of motor vehicles equipped without driver controls.

 

NAFA is closely monitoring developments related to federal standards for AV technology. Hopefully, NHTSA’s proposal will impact AV development in a way that positively advances the safe testing and deployment of these technologies that have the potential to create a shift in the future of mobility.



March 5, 2020 Update

Senate Bill Introduced to Combat Transportation Workforce Shortages
 
A bipartisan group of senators announced that they recently introduced S.3303, the Promoting Service in Transportation Act. The bill authorizes funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to create and carry out a 5-year public awareness campaign to highlight career opportunities in the transportation sector. The emphasis would be on jobs within the trucking, aviation and rail industries, and explicitly mentions raising awareness of the opportunities for mechanics, technicians, and truck drivers.
 
The sponsor of the legislation Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) said: “This bipartisan bill will help recruit pilots, drivers, technicians and service professionals throughout the transportation industry and build a diverse workforce with the skills needed to succeed in today’s economy.”
 
Given the adverse impact transportation workforce shortages are having on the fleets, especially in the case of commercial vehicle operators and those who service and maintain vehicles, this campaign would be a welcome initiative to demonstrate the viability of these kinds of careers to prospective employees.

February 19, 2020 Update
 

Transportation Department Issues Notice on CBD
 

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance released a notice on February 18th regarding the use of CBD products by DOT-regulated safety-sensitive employees. 

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act and allows hemp-derived products, such as CBD products, containing a concentration of up to 0.3% THC to not be classified not controlled substances.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently oversee or certify the THC concentration levels in CBD products on the market, and some have been found to contain higher levels than advertised on labeling. CBD products could result in a positive drug test result for marijuana, and DOT will not consider CBD product-use to be a legitimate medical explanation for safety-sensitive employees. Fleets should consider having policies in place to manage the risk associated with the use of these uncertified products.

The FDA maintains information on CBD products in a Consumer Update.
 

Senators Trade Jabs Over Clean Energy-Related Tax Policies


A group of Democratic Senators, led by the Senate Finance Committee’s Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), recently sent a letter to the Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) calling on him to take action on pending energy tax proposals related to climate change concerns. The group pointed to stagnant levels of emissions from many sectors and a lack of a committee hearing on energy tax policies in the prior or current session of Congress as evidence of inaction.

Senator Grassley replied to the group with a letter of his own, in which he indicated that the Committee had taken action, via the formation of task forces to examine the temporary tax policies known as extenders, as well as the retroactive reinstatement of several of these incentives, such as the excise credit for biodiesel. Senator Grassley expressed that it was the fierce support from Democrats on an expansion of the electric vehicle (EV) tax credit that had slowed deliberations and that he would continue to look at long-term solutions for the pending temporary tax policies.

Congress Works on Additional Self-Driving Car Bill Sections

The House and Senate committees of jurisdiction have released the final seven sections for stakeholder review of forthcoming self-driving car legislation. These included provisions on cybersecurity, consumer education, inoperative controls, resources, staffing, crash data, and trucks. However, the committees have not released a section on the issue of whether a customer can sue if there’s a crash, which derailed the passage of the prior session of Congress’ autonomous vehicle (AV) bill, the AV START Act (S.1885). 

Federal standards for AV technology would have an enormous impact on the future of mobility, given the potential impact on the technology’s advancement and deployment. These developments will be of critical importance to fleet managers as they handle and adapt mobility strategies for their organizations.

February 12, 2020 Update
 

NAFA Comments on House Committee Hearing on Autonomous Vehicles

 
On February 11, 2020, the House Energy & Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce held a hearing entitled, "Autonomous Vehicles: Promises and Challenges of Evolving Automotive Technologies." Members of the Subcommittee discussed issues currently under consideration as federal legislation related to self-driving car regulations is developed, including driver & passenger safety, testing & deployment, and cybersecurity.
 
In a statement from Energy & Commerce Chairman, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), he said: "We are working on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to draft a self-driving car bill that will help ensure that these life-saving technologies are safely deployed."
 
NAFA submitted a statement for the hearing's official record alongside members of the U.S. Vehicle Data Access Coalition urging Congress to establish standards for open vehicle-generated data access. Such measures are being considered among the realm of policy issues related to autonomous vehicles. 
 
NAFA and its allies believe that "The rights of vehicle owners to control and access the data generated by their vehicles is too important to be left unaddressed by Congress. The Coalition supports bi-partisan, bi-cameral legislative efforts to establish a framework for securing the continued rights of vehicle owners – and entities that secure the express permission of vehicle owners -- to control and access vehicle generated data on a real-time, secure and competitive basis."

February 5, 2020 Update
 

NAFA January 2020 Legislative Tracker Summary


Several U.S. legislative and regulatory items were advanced at the end of 2019 and throughout January 2020.

Some of the major highlights were:
 
  • FY2020 Government Funding
  • Reinstatement of Expired Fuel Tax Credits
  • Release of a $769 Billion House Infrastructure Package Proposal
  • Draft Privacy Legislation in the House
  • USMCA Implementation Signed into Law
  • Consideration of Clean Energy and Sustainability Proposals in the House
  • EPA Action on Heavy-Duty Engine Standards
  • FCC Rulemaking on Opening 5.9GHz Auto Safety Band Spectrum
View the NAFA January 2020 Legislative Tracker Summary and Download the PDF

January 31, 2020 Update
 

Quick Updates End of January 2020


House Democrats Release Draft Framework

"On Jan. 29, House Democrats from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released the draft framework for a 5-year $760 billion infrastructure package. The package includes $329 billion in funding for highways and highway safety. The current surface transportation law, the FAST Act, is set to expire this September.
 
The proposal also provides $34.3 billion in clean energy investments. This portion would include $1.25 billion for reauthorization of the EPA's Diesel Emissions Reductions Act (DERA) program, which provides grants to upgrade or replace older diesel engines and vehicles to reduce carbon pollution. Additionally, $1.5 billion would be invested in electric vehicle infrastructure to support the development of an electric vehicle charging network to assist the transition to zero-emissions vehicles.
 
The framework acknowledges that consensus on how to fund the proposed investments remains a challenge, with user-fee-related reforms and bond programs seen as viable options. In a related vein, the proposal will also authorize a multi-year national pilot program to test revenue collection to ensure the future viability and equity of surface transportation user fees, including a vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) fee.
 
The inclusion of this provision underlines an increasing interest from both sides of the aisle in testing the idea of a national VMT fee as an alternative to the excise tax on motor fuels. Ranking Member of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), said in a statement on Jan. 27 that a recent report on Washington's state-level VMT pilot “clearly shows that transitioning to a VMT system is a more equitable way to charge drivers for the roads they use, and that we are in fact capable of beginning that transition now.”
 
NAFA supports the concept of testing the feasibility and ramifications of various roadway user-fee alternatives, such as through a national VMT pilot program, to ensure a sustainable source of funding for the federal highway program that is derived from users equitably.
 
View the Moving Forward Framework

View the Fact Sheet

Entry-Level Driver Training Rule Pushed Back

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published an interim rule in the Federal Register on February 4th, changing the compliance deadline for its rule on Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators (ELDT Rule) from February 7, 2020, to February 7, 2022. The FMCSA has said that State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) needed additional time to modify their IT systems and procedures to accommodate ELDT data.
 
CLEAN Future Act Draft Text Released

The House Energy & Commerce Committee released draft text for its Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act on January 28th. The CLEAN Future Act is a broad climate-focused bill, which is intended to put the U.S. on the path to a net-zero greenhouse gas economy by 2050.
 
USMCA Signed by President

On January 29th, the President signed legislation (H.R.5430) into law implementing a renegotiated North American free trade pact, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The Canadian Parliament will now consider the trilateral deal for ratification.

January 23, 2020 Update
 

NAFA's in Support of US House of Representative Committee Position on Proposed FCC Changes


On January 22nd, thirty-eight members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from both sides of the aisle sent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a letter emphasizing the potential for V2X technology to save lives.
 
In the letter, lawmakers said that they were "alarmed by the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) proposal to reallocate more than half of the 5.9 GHz radio frequency band (or Safety Band) to unlicensed operations, such as Wi-Fi." and that "The FCC's proposal undercuts the potential to prevent many of the 37,000 traffic fatalities each year by impeding the development and deployment of safety-critical technologies.”
 
NAFA was a part of the effort to generate the letter, with outreach from NAFA leadership to every member of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee requesting that they sign on to this bipartisan initiative.

January 20, 2020 Update
 

IRS Issues Guidance on How to Claim Reinstated Fuel Tax Credits

 
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued guidance claimants must follow to make a one-time claim for payment of the credits and payments allowable under §§ 6426(c), 6426(d), and 6427(e) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) for biodiesel (including renewable diesel) mixtures and alternative fuels sold or used during calendar years 2018 and 2019.
 
Congress recently reinstated the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit retroactively through 2022, and the $0.50-per-gallon alternative fuels tax credit through 2020, as part of a year-end tax and spending deal. The deal also provides a credit for purchases made during the 2018 and 2019 tax years. The reinstatement of the tax credits was the result of a significant advocacy push from NAFA and allied organizations.
 
There is a 180-day claim period for 2018 - 2019 biodiesel and alternative fuel incentives, which begins on February 14, 2020. Claims must be filed on or before August 11, 2020. The IRS is directing companies to submit both 2018 and 2019 claims on a single Form 8849 along with a completed Schedule 3: Certain Fuel Mixtures and the Alternative Fuel Credit.
 
NAFA recommends members consult with a qualified tax professional for assistance in filing claims. Questions may also be directed to the IRS at (202) 317-4718.
 

House Committee Moves Sustainability Focused Bills Forward

 
On January 9th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Energy Subcommittee held a markup to pass several bills, which will now go to the full committee for consideration. Among the bills, three were of particular note for NAFA:
 
  • H.R. 5518, would reauthorize the Energy Department’s Clean Cities Coalition Program to encourage the use of alternative fuels and vehicles at $50 million beginning in fiscal 2020. That level would increase to $100 million in fiscal 2024. NAFA was a part of a coalition letter (link to Coalition Letter Supporting HR 5518 Clean Cities Authorization) sent to members of the E&C Subcommittee on January 8th in support of the bill.
 
  • H.R. 2906, the Clean Commute for Kids Act, would reauthorize and update the Clean School Bus Program. The Clean School Bus Program offers competitive grant funding for modernizing school bus fleets. The bill broadens grant eligibility criteria to include electric vehicles and provides prioritization for applicants seeking to acquire clean school buses with low or zero emissions. The program would be reauthorized at $50 million annually from FY 2020-2025.
 
  • H.R. 5545, the New Opportunities to Expand Healthy Air Using Sustainable Transportation (NO EXHAUST) Act, would promote U.S. manufacture and use of advanced, fuel-efficient vehicles, and zero-emission vehicles. The bill would create a new program to provide rebates to offset the cost of purchasing and installing new EV charging stations. The bill also increases the percentage of alt fueled vehicles that federal agencies must acquire, sets minimum requirements for the percentage of alt fueled vehicles that must be zero-emission vehicles, increases the requirement for federal use of alt fuels, and includes a new requirement to reduce federal fleet greenhouse gas emissions. 
 

NAFA Comments on Senate Data Privacy Proposals

 
With the debate on federal privacy data privacy standards escalating at the end of 2019, NAFA has been active in communicating with policymakers on the importance of access to certain vehicle-related data for fleet management. In December, Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) published his draft United States Consumer Data Privacy Act (USCDPA) and Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has introduced her privacy bill S.2968, the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA).
 
NAFA sent a letter (link to Wicker Privacy Letter 1.6.20) Chairman Wicker on January 6th, and a letter (link to Cantwell Privacy Letter 1.9.20) to Ranking Member Cantwell on January 9th commenting on their respective privacy standard proposals. Both proposals stand to address employee data and could negatively impact a fleet manager's ability to optimize their fleets’ processes. Vehicle-generated data, like telematics data, is an essential and useful resource for many fleets and their organizations. NAFA is working to preserve data access and give employers the flexibility to use that data while at the same time ensuring that employees are aware of transparent policies regarding data collection and use.  
 

Clean Economy by 2050 Legislative Framework Circulated by House Members

 
House Energy and Commerce Democratic leadership released the legislative framework on January 8th for a broad bill that calls for the U.S. to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas pollution no later than 2050, the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act. The CLEAN Future Act will have an extensive title for transportation policies, which is expected to raise vehicle efficiency and emissions standards, as well as bolster EV charging infrastructure, DERA, and the Clean Cities Program. The legislative text of the draft should be released by the end of the month.
 

EPA Announces Rulemaking on Heavy-Duty Truck Emissions

 
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced on January 6th that the agency was releasing an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to establish new, more stringent emission standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and other pollutants for heavy-duty engines through its Cleaner Trucks Initiative. The EPA is seeking public input on its forthcoming rulemaking, which would implement the first revisions to the NOx emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks since January 2001. Additionally, the EPA has published a fact sheet outlining its priorities and goals for the forthcoming notice of proposed rulemaking.
 

DOT Publishes AV 4.0 Guidance

 
On January 8th, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao released the Automated Vehicles 4.0 (AV 4.0) Report, guidance outlining how the federal government will be promoting unified federal rules across the various departments and agencies for the development of self-driving car technology. Secretary Chao voiced concerns over companies taking testing and development of AVs out of the U.S., due to the patchwork of state regulations governing the technology at present. At least 29 states already have some laws related to AVs, while federal AV legislation has failed to advance in Congress.
 
The administration’s guidance wants to foster AV testing in the U.S by seeking “performance-based” regulations, which are not overly prescriptive in their requirements on AV developers. Currently, companies that wish to develop AV’s are beholden to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and must apply for exemptions with NHTSA to test AV technologies.
 
NAFA supports the expansion of legislation and regulations on AV technology that ensures the safety of drivers and the public, while also encouraging the advancement of mobility options and potentially life-saving technologies.

Visit NAFA's Legislative Tracker for all Updates