Monthly Federal Legislative & Regulatory Reports

 

IANA tracks important legislative and regulatory issues that affect the intermodal freight transportation industry. The status of these issues will be added as needed.

Legislative

Shipping Reform Legislation Passes the House
Commerce Committee Examines Disruptions in Ocean Shipping Supply Chains

Regulatory

 
White House Announces Truck Action Plan to Support Trucking Workforce

On December 16, the Biden-Harris Administration announced its Truck Action Plan, an effort to support and expand the trucking workforce. This initiative is one component of the Administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, which was established in June to address near-term supply chain bottlenecks. Under this plan, the Departments of Transportation and Labor will collaborate to accelerate the expansion of apprenticeship programs, address pandemic-driven delays in the commercial driver’s license process, improve the quality of training, and expand access to driving jobs for veterans and underrepresented communities.

Specifically, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will provide more than $30 million in funding to help states expedite CDLs and will send toolkits to all 50 states detailing specific actions that will expedite licensing. Additionally, FMCSA will track delays and communicate with all 50 governors about ways to reduce delays in issuing CDLs.

The Department of Labor will begin a 90-day challenge to accelerate the expansion of registered apprenticeships. Moreover, DOL will conduct veterans-focused outreach and recruitment to enable transitioning service members and veterans to obtain jobs in the trucking industry. DOL and VA will work to ensure veterans’ driving experience is recognized for those seeking a CDL and will build on existing programs for transitioning service members.

Furthermore, USDOT and DOL will launch the Driving Good Jobs initiative to support the trucking workforce. The two agencies will partner to engage with drivers, identify best practices to support job quality and driver retention, study issues such as truck driver pay and unpaid detention time, and recruit drivers from underrepresented communities. In addition, this program will establish a task force to investigate predatory truck leasing arrangements as well as identify longer-term actions, including administrative or regulatory changes, that will improve the quality of trucking jobs.

NSAC Discusses Data Sharing and Fees

On December 8, the Federal Maritime Commission’s National Shippers Advisory Committee held its second meeting since its formation in June 2021. The two primary topics of conversation were data sharing and visibility and freight surcharges, detention, and demurrage. Following the meeting, the NSAC will establish two subcommittees to focus on each of these issues. The subcommittees will be tasked with discussing these topics in more detail and providing recommendations to the full Committee. The NSAC will then hold a vote and provide formal recommendations to the FMC. Subsequently, the Committee may form additional subcommittees addressing: cargo discrimination; chassis; ports and port automation; carriers and contracts; rail and drayage; and items that fall outside the FMC’s scope.

When discussing data sharing, several members articulated the need for a standard set of definitions for the shipping industry. The Committee agreed there must be a unified, harmonized lexicon related to shipping terms. Additionally, Committee members offered several recommendations to improve visibility, including implementing vessel schedule delay notifications by ocean carriers, ensuring stable early return dates and last free days, and creating a national supply chain data portal for ports, terminals, truckers, railroads, and ocean carriers to submit data.

Furthermore, several members proposed changes to carriers’ billing practices. Specifically, Committee members expressed opposition to automated invoicing and recommended additional reviews of invoices and that carriers be held accountable for their billing practices through regulation or statute. NSAC members also pointed to the lack of reciprocity in the empty return process. A group of members agreed the FMC should mandate arrival notices and require greater transparency regarding charges. Finally, multiple members noted the Committee must consider ongoing and previous actions by the FMC, including Commissioner Bentzel’s recent data initiative, and incorporate them into the NSAC’s work.