North Dakota senator introduces bill to remove regulations affecting CDLs

North Dakota Trucker

U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) recently introduced legislation that would remove regulations for the agriculture, school districts, and trucking companies.

Cramer says the existing Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) law that requires drivers seeking a CDL to complete the ELDT is “burdensome,” especially when the industry faces a driver shortage.

Cramer says ELDT training classes range from $450 to $8,500, depending on the trainer, and can take anywhere from three days to 20 days to complete.

Cramer’s Trucking Regulations Unduly Constricting Known Service-providers (TRUCKS) Act would allow states to issue a new “Small Business Restricted CDL” so ELDT requirements would not affect small businesses with nine CDLs or less. This would make certain any driver obtaining a CDL without completing the ELDT process could not switch to a larger company and bring a “Small Business Restricted CDL” with them.

Further, it would protect small businesses from these constricting regulations so they can fill their positions in a timely manner and remain competitive in the industry. Additionally, the TRUCKS Act would allow states to exempt employees of agriculture-related industries, school districts, and local units of governments (including county, municipal and tribal), from ELDT requirements to obtain their CDL.

“With the current supply chain issues and shortage of truck drivers nationwide at a time of tremendous demand, the last thing the transportation industry needs is more overbearing, bureaucratic red tape placed on them by the Biden Administration,” said Senator Cramer. “The TRUCKS Act allows states to exempt certain drivers from new ELDT requirements and provide regulatory relief to small trucking businesses ensuring we have drivers on the road to keep interstate commerce moving.”

Co-sponsor Mike Rounds (R-SD) said, “At a time when our nation is in a recession and faced with worker shortages and supply chain issues, American businesses should not have to battle the heavy hand of government,” said Senator Rounds. “We should be working on policies to help our producers and consumers, not hurt them. This legislation eases the burden on small trucking companies, agricultural producers, school districts and local units of government. It also gives power back to the states so they can decide their own rules of the road.”

In addition to Senators Cramer and Rounds, the bill is co-sponsored by Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Roger Marshall (R-KS).

“At a time when we already have a shortage of drivers and continued supply chain constraints, the FMCSA’s new training requirements impose higher costs and discourage new drivers from entering the workforce,” said Senator Hoeven. “Our legislation provides important regulatory relief and flexibility by allowing exemptions for agriculture, small businesses and state and local governments. This will help ensure farmers, ranchers and other small businesses, as well as school districts and other government entities have access to the reliable and affordable transportation services they need while ensuring safety on our roads.”

“Custom harvesters across Kansas are overregulated by federal rule makers who have never worked on a harvest crew,” said Senator Marshall. “The ELDT requirements for new drivers are burdensome to small trucking companies, and this legislation is a common-sense reform to eliminate barriers for small businesses, farmers, and custom harvesters’ crews who are already hard pressed to find an adequate amount of drivers.”

In 2012, then-President Obama signed into law the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act. The law includes a provision, which added an additional section to the federal law dealing with CDLs. The provision directs the Secretary of Transportation to issue regulations establishing minimum entry-level driver training (ELDT) requirements for an individual operating a commercial motor vehicle. A 2020 interim final rule was finalized in June 2021 with a compliance deadline of February 7, 2022. The regulation (ELDT) applies to individuals seeking to obtain a Class A or B CDL for the first time, a Passenger (P), HAZMAT (H), or School Bus (S) endorsement for the first time or if trying to upgrade from a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL or a Class C CDL to a Class B CDL. The Class A CDL allows truckers to drive vehicles that are heavier than what is allowed with only a Class B CDL. ELDT does not apply to those obtaining a Class C CDL.