Senate Gradually Clearing Way for Passage of Highway Bill. Van CDL Study Language Expected to Be Included.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cut a deal to allow votes on amendments, which will eventually lead to passage of the Highway bill in the U.S. Senate. The provision to require DOT to produce a study weighing the costs and benefits of requiring CDL’s for 9 to 15 passenger vans is expected to be among the amendments included in the final Senate bill. The Motorcoach provisions were not in the version of the bill of S. 1813 reintroduced last week, but is expected to be among the amendments tacked on before passage.
Speaker Boehner has indicated that he will consider taking up the Senate version of the Highway bill but only after passing a short term extension of the Highway funding authority. The most likely scenario is a short term extension will be passed by the House, which will not contain the van CDL study provision. Then the House will take up the Senate bill and amend it over the course of the next few weeks and the differences between the House and Senate version will have to be reconciled in conference. At least that’s the status as of noon on Friday, March 09, 2012. Drive safely.
The official Senate bill number is S. 1813, short title MAP-21, which funds highway programs for two years. The last published version of the van provision in the previous bill read:
REPORT ON DRIVER’S LICENSE REQUIREMENTS 8 FOR 9 TO 15-PASSENGER VAN.
The language reads: a) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit a report to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives that examines requiring all or certain classes of drivers operating a vehicle, which is designed or used to transport not fewer than 9 and not more than 15 passengers (including a driver) in interstate commerce, to have a commercial driver’s license passenger-carrying endorsement and be tested in accordance with a drug and alcohol testing program under part 40 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations.
(b) CONSIDERATIONS.—In developing the report under subsection (a), the Secretary shall consider—
(1) the safety benefits of the requirement described in subsection (a);
(2) the scope of the population that would be impacted by such requirement;
(3) the cost to the Federal Government and State governments to meet such requirement; and
(4) the impact on safety benefits and cost from limiting the application of such requirement to certain drivers of such vehicles, such as drivers who are compensated for driving.
Senator Klobuchar Leads Fight for Recreational Trails Funding in Highway Bill
Senate Amendment 1661 (SA 1661) to the Highway Bill, S. 1813, includes funding for the recreational trails program. Senators Mark Udall (D-CO), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Michael Bennett (D–CO), Senators Burr (R- NC) , Shaheen (D-NH), and Risch (R-ID) have joined Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) as co-sponsors of the Senate Amendment, which would restore dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program.
Alert to National Forest Outfitters. H.R. 4019 Approved by Resources Committee Would Require Dramatically Higher Fees on Permitted Activities.
On February 17th, the House Committee on Natural Resources approved H.R. 4019, The Federal Forests County Revenue, Schools, and Jobs Act
of 2012, which would create a County, Schools and Revenue Trust and establish an Annual Revenue Requirement (ARR) for each national forest system unit, based on an average of gross receipts from 1980-2000. Huge fee increases will be required to fund these trusts with 65% of the fees generated going to counties and 35% to the Treasury. Many outfitters would still be saddled with recreation fees paid to the Forest Service in addition to the higher permit fees which go into the trust accounts. Rep. Hasting (R-WA) is the author of the bill.
See the excerpt below.
SEC. 105. COUNTY, SCHOOLS, AND REVENUE TRUST PROJECTS.
(a) Need For Projects.—Effective for fiscal year 2014 and each fiscal year thereafter, the Secretary shall carry out County, Schools, and Revenue Trust Projects in units of the National Forest System as necessary to achieve the annual revenue requirement for the unit. The Secretary is authorized and encouraged to commence the implementation of trust projects before fiscal year 2014 to begin generating amounts for deposit in the Trust to supplement the funds made available under section 102(d)(1).
(b) Designation Of Projects.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the Secretary may designate any project involving National Forest System land (other than National Forest System land located in a political subdivision that opted out under section 103) as a County, Schools, and Revenue Trust Project.
(2) TYPES OF PROJECTS.—Trust projects may include a timber sale, issuance of a grazing permit, issuance of a special use permit involving land use, mineral development, power generation, or recreational use, and projects implementing a community wildfire protection plan.
Because H.R. 4109 requires significant increases in commodity production, primarily oil, gas, and timber production, to achieve the revenue goals, it is opposed by Democrats and the Administration. In areas without commodity production, the burden would fall on recreation activities. Our guess is that it will never get through the Senate.
You need to act now if you operate in National Forests. Go to Congress.org Type in your zip code under GET INVOLVED. Get the name and phone number for your U.S. Representative and Senators. Oppose H.R. 4019.
AOA has two sets of lawyers working the Hill on these issues and without your support this effort would not be possible.
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eLearningU is offering a FREE eLearningU webinar to America Outdoors Association members! If you haven't tested out these live webinars before, now is your chance. This week, eLearningU's live webinar on Top 7 Elements to Review in Your Web Traffic Analysis is our treat! Simply use the coupon code "AOAFREE" on check out and you will get the course completely free. Let us know how you like it!
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Tags: HR 4019, MAP-21, van CDL, 15 passenger van, Forest Service permit, permit fees