Senate Passes Legislation That Includes Hoeven-Sponsored ELD Provision, Invests in Nation’s Infrastructure & UAS Development
WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), this week joined the Senate in passing bipartisan funding legislation for Fiscal Year 2019 that invests in the nation’s infrastructure and supports the development of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The bill also includes a Hoeven-sponsored provision that directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to address concerns with electronic logging device (ELD) regulations for commercial motor carriers hauling livestock and insects.
“This legislation supports vital infrastructure improvements across our state, including for road, rail and airports, while also helping to advance the integration of UAS into our national airspace, a pivotal step in growing this industry,” said Hoeven. “At the same time, we have included a provision I sponsored to help address the unworkable mandates under the DOT’s ELD regulation. Our farmers and ranchers need the certainty that they can get their products safely to market. That’s why we continue working to reform these regulations and advance efforts, like my legislation with Senator Bennet, to find a permanent solution.”
REFORMING ELD AND HOS REGULATIONS
This week’s legislation comes as part of the senator’s ongoing work to resolve agriculture producers’ concerns with the ELD and Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Specifically, Hoeven’s provision in the funding bill recognizes the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s recent guidance and directs the DOT to consider the unique challenges associated with transporting live animals and agricultural commodities, while ensuring roadway safety.
Further, Hoeven successfully pressed for the inclusion of an amendment that delays enforcement of the ELD rule for one year, similar to a previous delay the senator secured in Fiscal Year 2018. Hoeven also worked with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to provide waivers from the ELD rule for agriculture transportation.
Hoeven continues his efforts to pass a permanent solution to the HOS and ELD regulations. Earlier this year, the senator introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act, to delay the enforcement of the ELD regulation and reform the ELD and HOS rules. Under Hoeven’s bill, the DOT would form a working group comprised of representatives from the transportation and agriculture industries, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to propose regulatory and legislative improvements for transportation of livestock.
Within 120 days of receiving the group’s report, the Transportation Secretary would be required to propose regulatory changes to the HOS and ELD regulations, taking into account the findings and recommendations of the working group. Enforcement of the ELD rule would be delayed until the Secretary proposes these regulatory changes.
INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE & UAS
In addition to his ELD provision, Hoeven worked to include the following North Dakota priorities in the funding bill:
- Directs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to provide sufficient funding to relocate airports that are in critical need of expansion but are unable to expand due to physical limits. This provision, which Hoeven authored and also included in last year’s bill, prioritizes projects like the Williston airport relocation.
- Maintains funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which is critical to projects at airports in North Dakota, including the Williston airport project.
- Includes a Hoeven-authored provision directing the FAA to consider the full range of flight activities, such as pilot training, when considering AIP discretionary grants. This will help prioritize airports such as Grand Forks International Airport, which, due to the flight training programs offered by the University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, is the 24th busiest airport in the country.
- Provides full funding for air carriers serving small communities through the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, allowing flight service to airports in Devils Lake, Dickinson and Jamestown.
Unmanned Aerial Systems
- Provides $14 million for the FAA’s UAS Center of Excellence co-led by the University of North Dakota.
- Includes a Hoeven amendment that makes $6 million available as matching funds for companies that work with the UAS test sites to demonstrate or validate technologies essential to integrating UAS into the national airspace.
- Includes language requiring the FAA to develop plans for a full-scale unmanned traffic management system in coordination with research conducted under the UAS Integrated Pilot Program (IPP). Hoeven recently joined Transportation Secretary Elaine to announce that the North Dakota Department of Transportation, with support from the Northern Plains Test Site, was selected as one of ten sites to participate in the pilot program.
Roads and Rail
- Fully funds the Highway Trust Fund at FAST Act levels. The bill continues to allow states to repurpose unused funding for additional important infrastructure projects.
- Provides $1 billion in funding for BUILD grants to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects.
- Provides funding to support the Federal Railroad Administration’s implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC), as well as for Amtrak’s long distance services.
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