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WHAT TO EXPECT Continued from page 16

tolls can be as high as 14 percent of rev- enue, while the fuel tax overhead is about 0.2 percent. “Let’s maintain and repair our spec-

tacular Interstate system and eliminate the many bottlenecks that greatly reduce the utility of our vital highway network,” respected trucking analyst John Larkin of Stiefel Nicolas said. “Without a healthy highway-based transportation network, we can forget about global competitiveness.”

New leadership at T&I Committee

The election meant changes at the top

of the House Transportation & Infrastruc- ture (T&I) Committee. The current chair- man, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., has reached his caucus term limit as chairman. A most familiar name will probably

be elected head of the T&I Committee. The name is Shuster. Not Bud Shuster, the re- tired chairman who was a power in the T&I Committee for decades. Rather, his son Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).

The younger Shuster told reporters on

Nov. 8 that making the financially strapped Highway Trust Fund solvent in the long term was a “priority” and also indicated that everything was on the financial table – including raising fuel taxes. “I believe there’s going to be some

large-scale negotiations taking place, not only in the lame duck but then into the next year,” Shuster said soon after the election. The president often mentioned rebuild-

ing the nation’s infrastructure during his campaign.When on the stump, President Obama often spoke that “it is time to do a little nation-building at home.” That likely could involve billions of dollars in trans- port spending. It seems as if raising the fuel tax sud-

denly has bipartisan support inWashing- ton. Conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats appear to be coalescing on the issue. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., a liberal Democrat on the House Budget and Ways and Means Committees, recently said that a “modest program of fuel tax increas- es” would help both the economic recovery and fiscal stability of the nation.

What is definitely coming out of Washington

While fuel tax increases seem likely,

there are some legislative and regulatory issues coming down the pipeline that will affect trucking. They include the final fine print of electronic on-board record- ers (EOBRs), establishment of a drug and alcohol information clearinghouse on driv- ers, speed limiters and more tweaks of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program affecting the industry. In late 2011, Sens. Frank Lautenberg

(D-N.J.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) introduced comprehensive truck safety legislation that included a mandate to require EOBRs in all commercial trucks. That final rulemaking was originally due out in mid-2013. The industry then has two years to install them in trucks. While Congress included the EOBR

mandate as well as Sen. Pryor’s legislation to create a drug and alcohol clearinghouse, threats to de-fund, repeal or nullify the mandates could develop in the House. And realistically, the timetable could

take a bit longer. The final rule on EOBRs will be issued in mid to late 2014, and another two years will be allotted for the industry to fully comply.


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