The federal highway and transit programs legislation -- the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act, a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) -- was signed into law on August 10, 2005, and expired on September 30, 2009. Since that time, the federal government has been operating on a series of short-term extensions. In order to provide certainty and make the much-needed investments in our nation’s roads and bridges, it’s time for Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill. The short-term extensions have created an atmosphere of uncertainty that has prevented progress on important infrastructure projects. I think we can agree that Congress should not continually kick the can down the road and needs to take bold action. For the first time in seven years, the House is currently considering a long-term surface transportation bill that would authorize funding for the federal highway system, off-system bridges and other important transportation and infrastructure programs. This bill would also delegate more power to the states to set funding priorities.
In an effort to ensure farmers have timely access to the supplies they need to be successful, Rep. Sam Graves and I successfully secured language in the proposed highway bill that would exempt truck drivers transporting certain agricultural products from current Department of Transportation restrictions. The proposal reinforces existing law by clarifying that a driver transporting farm supplies from source to retail, source to farm and retail to farm is included under existing Agriculture Hours-of-Service (AgHOS) regulations. The measure, which has been studied by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to determine any possible safety implications, extends the AgHOS exemption for a motor carrier in the distribution system provided that the motor carrier is delivering farm supplies for agricultural purposes where none of the transportation movements exceed a 150 air-mile radius.
FMCSA, the federal entity charged with promulgating AgHOS regulations, has recognized the need for an exemption to their motor carrier regulations. In 2010, Rep. Graves and I were successful in securing a two-year waiver for the delivery of anhydrous ammonia that runs through October 9, 2012.
To support our nation’s transportation infrastructure, I have cosponsored:
• H.R.3265, To amend the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 to provide clarification regarding the applicability of exemptions relating to the transportation of agricultural commodities and farm supplies
• H.R.2426, To amend title 23, United States Code, to limit claims in connection with decisions to issue permits, licenses, and approvals for highway and public transportation capital projects