Last Friday, President Obama signed into law the first long-term highway bill in over a decade, legislation which also included several key provisions benefiting the ready mixed concrete industry. The FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation), or HR 22, guarantees funding for five years at $305 billion for highway and transit programs. The White House signing came just a day after the House voted in favor of the bill (359-65), followed by the Senate later that evening (83-16). The President signed the bill into law just hours before the latest highway bill extension was set to expire.
“We applaud our nation’s leaders for passing such a critical piece of legislation that provides five years of funding above base levels,” says National Ready Mixed Concrete Association President Robert Garbini. “The FAST Act guarantees critical funding levels and reform without compromising safety, which is exactly what the ready mixed concrete industry needs to continue building our surface transportation system.”
As the result of a long-term advocacy campaign, the NRMCA secured a number of key provisions in the FAST Act that benefit mixer truck drivers. The key language for the ready mixed concrete industry centers on three important provisions within the Federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations:
- The first makes permanent an exemption issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in April 2015 for the ready mixed concrete industry on the drivers’ HOS 30-minute break rule. This provision also includes reforms to the petitions’ process to apply for and receive exemptions from FMCSA, which will benefit all sectors of the construction and transportation industries.
- The second provision creates a ready mixed concrete industry-specific logbook exemption that increases the 12-hour on-duty logging threshold contained in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 395.1(e)(1)(ii) and (e)(1)(iii)(A) to 14 hours in order to be consistent with the 14-hour driving window contained in the HOS regulations.
- Lastly, the legislation increases the air-miles radius from 50 to 75 air-miles for the transportation and delivery of construction materials and equipment in order to satisfy the current 24-hour restart provision.
“These provisions are a resounding victory for the ready mixed concrete industry in that they will provide much needed regulatory relief and certainty for our industry,” states NRMCA Senior Vice President of Government and Political Affairs Kerri Leininger. “Our producer members have long emphasized the need for clarification on these issues and we are gratified that this bill passed with such large bipartisan support.”
The FAST Act also includes several other victories for which NRMCA advocated, each benefiting the ready mixed concrete industry. These include Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program reforms that require the FMCSA administrator to commission a study of its safety measurement system and remove certain CSA scores from public view. The bill also contains a provision on minimum financial responsibility for commercial motor vehicles that requires the transportation secretary to consider cost-benefit criteria and conduct a study before issuing a final rule-making to determine whether to increase the minimum level of financial responsibility.