AUSTIN, TX. Chris Spear, president and CEO of American Trucking Associations, opened his speech at the group’s annual meeting by celebrating the tax reform law signed by President Trump one more time.
Noting that Trump sought assistance from ATA to help gain support last year, “we answered that call and led,” Spear said. “Tax reform is a measurable victory for you and our industry and its passage is now fueling our nation’s economy.”
Buoyed by that win, Spear went on to outline a series of areas trucking should expect positive results in the coming year.
One of ATA's most heated issues is California’s meal-and-rest break rule, which Spear said violates federal interstate commerce laws.
ATA has filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Transportation, noting it is forcing truckers to park in unsafe conditions.
“I am confident that justice will soon prevail,” he said.
Spear also projected there will be “common-sense improvements” to hours-of-service rules, as the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is resulting in HOS violations reaching “an all-time” low.
He stressed ATA is lobbying Congress to pass the DRIVE-Safe Act and working with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration to create pilot programs to give those under 21 years of age a path into interstate truck driving.
“We must be allowed to compete for the same talent as other industries, and teach them to safely and responsibly operate this equipment,” he said.
Spear said he expects infrastructure funding to be debated in 2019, and that ATA’s “Build America Fund” will be part of that discussion.
“Our proposal is less than one cent on the dollar to administer, shores up the near-broke [Highway] Trust Fund and doesn’t add a dime to our nation’s deficit,” he stressed.
Spear also declared ATA plans "to ramp up its Litigation Center and leverage our full ability to influence outcomes” in the courts. One ongoing case is a challenge to Rhode Island’s truck-only toll plan.