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America Outdoors Association

April 7, 2011

America Outdoors Association Bulletin

Senate Committee to Vote Tuesday on Bill to Require CDL’s for 9 to 15 Passenger Vans

Department of Interior to Close National Parks if Government Shuts Down

Senate Committee to Vote Tuesday on Bill to Require CDL’s for 9 to 15 Passenger Vans

S. 453, the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2011, which is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, will further regulate the motor coach industry and may create new regulatory requirements for 9 to 15 passenger vans used in interstate commerce.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will have to submit a plan to Congress within 18 months on requiring CDL’s for "all" or "certain classes" of drivers of 9 to 15 passenger vans.  This is the intent of the language although there are some technical glitches in the legislation that call into question whether the law is written as intended.  However, the intent of the safety advocates pushing the CDL requirement  is for a CDL requirement to apply to outfitters and other entities using 9 to 15 passenger vans in interstate commerce.  Because some states adopt federal standards automatically or as a condition of US FMCSA grants, the regulation may also apply to intrastate commerce in some states.  AOA is working on revsions to the language to exempt outfitters or vans used for indirect compensation, which means that the transportation service is not the primary purpose of the business.

The language in S. 453, which has been recently revised by committee staff states:

(b) REPORT ON DRIVER'S LICENSE REQUIREMENTS FOR 9-TO-15 PASSENGER VANS.
Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit a plan to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives for requiring that all or certain classes of drivers:

(1) have a commercial driver's license passenger-carrying endorsement in order to operate a commercial motor vehicle (as defined in section 7 31301(4) of title 49, United States Code) and transport not less than 9 and not more than 15 passengers (including a driver) in interstate commerce and
(2) be tested in accordance with a drug and alcohol testing program under part 40 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations

This is more than a report.  It is authorization to require CDL’s for all 9 to 15 passenger used for interstate commerce.  Many states automatically adopt the federal standards for intrastate commerce as well. 

Click here for sample of a letter you should FAX to YOUR SENATORS today.  If you cannot fax a letter, call their offices and tell them that you oppose the regulatory requirements in S. 453 for 9 to 15 passenger vans FOR THE OUTFITTING INDUSTRY.  TELL THEM WE HAVE A GOOD SAFETY RECORD.  Get fax and phone numbers for your Senators from Congress.org  Click here for the Members of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
 

Department of Interior to Close National Parks.  Forest Service and BLM May Keep Areas Open for Permitted Activities.

Based on the official release from the Department of Interior and after direct conversations with the Director of NPS, it appears that most National Parks will be gated after midnight on Friday unless Congress reaches a resolution to the budget impasse.   The official statement from Interior can be found below.  However, we believe the Forest Service and BLM intend to allow access and permitted activities to continue with some exceptions.  For example, the Forest Service expects concessioner run facilities, such as campgrounds to remain open.  Outfitted trips will be allowed to continue to operate in National Forests.  Agency run campgrounds will close.  Closure of visitor centers run by the agency or closure of areas to protect assets can be expected. 

Outfitted trips on National Forest and, possibly on BLM lands, will be allowed to continue in general.  Access for the general public will probably not be restricted unless it is necessary to protect public health and safety.  However, because local agency staff may be confused about which resources to gate and which to leave open, if you operate in an area that has a lockable gate, you should call your ranger ASAP to find out if it is going to remain open.  Boat launching sites with gates, for example, could be locked so check with the ranger.  There are some inconsistencies between the statement from Interior below and what we are hearing from the field, although the National Park Service at the national level seems to be taking a harder stand on closures.  We very much appreciate the understanding of the Forest Service and what we have heard from BLM in this difficult time for them.

The Department of Interior released this statement yesterday regarding the government shutdown.

"We still believe that there is the opportunity for Congress to avoid a government shutdown, but are working to prepare for all possible scenarios.

Visitors and potential visitors to national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands should be advised that, in the event of a government shutdown, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management will close and secure park, refuge and visitor facilities on public lands. 

Visitor activities that require a permit, including public events, will not be allowed or will be cancelled or postponed.  Visitor centers will be closed and access to park areas denied, including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Independence Hall, Alcatraz, and the Washington Monument.  Visitors using overnight concession accommodations and campgrounds will be notified and given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements.  The National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and some Bureau of Land Management roads will be closed except when they are necessary as thruways.

Limited personnel needed to protect life and property on public lands, such as law enforcement, emergency services and firefighting personnel, will be exempted from furlough.  Some administrative offices for the bureaus will be minimally staffed and many will be closed.  Ordinary business of these bureaus will be extremely curtailed.

The land management agencies will be providing additional information to the public as they finalize their contingency plans."

 

Senate Repeals 1099 Filing Requirement.  Sends Bill to President for Signature.

 

This late-breaking good news will relieve you of a tremendous burden.  The Senate has approved a repeal of the 1099 filing requirement that would have required a 1099 to be filed on every purchase over $600 for goods, as well as services.  We don't have all the details yet, but this is good news.
 

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