Dem asks feds to clarify rule on how truckers record driving hours

Dem asks feds to clarify rule on how truckers record driving hours
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Democratic Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Bipartisan group introduces retirement savings legislation in Senate Fed chief lays out risks of trade war MORE (D-N.D.) is pressing the Department of Transportation (DOT) for clarity over a new rule requiring truckers to electronically log their hours.

In a Tuesday letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoMcConnell: I won't be intimidated by protesters Protesters confront McConnell leaving Kentucky restaurant The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Wild night of primaries reshapes 2018 midterms MORE, Heitkamp said she is worried that agricultural stakeholders have not had enough input in the administration’s efforts to impose the rule.

“Based on feedback I have received from my constituents, I am very concerned that this rule does not take into consideration the realities of transporting livestock, insects and perishable produce, and that it will affect recreational horse users that are not involved with the commercial trucking industry,” Heitkamp wrote.

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“DOT’s one-size-fits-all approach fails to take into account the uniqueness of these industries, and I request you provide more clarity and exemptions to the rule to address these situations.”

The new rule, which mandates truckers use electronic logging devices rather than paper to record driving hours, went into effect Dec. 18. But the administration gave truckers until April 1 to comply with the requirement, which is meant to adhere to hours-of-service rules and help improve safety.

Heitkamp in her letter said there is “uncertainty” surrounding whether or not the rule applies to “agriculture and recreational uses” like transporting cattle for rodeos. 

The North Dakota lawmaker, who is up for reelection this year in a state President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE won by nearly 38 points, said she backs a delay in imposing the rule on commercial vehicles moving insects or livestock.

“The delay will give the FMCSA time to make necessary adjustments to hours of service rules that address trip start time and animal welfare concerns,” Heitkamp said, referring to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which issued the rule.

On Tuesday, the FMCSA said it will provide another 90-day waiver from the regulation for agricultural transports.

“We continue to see strong compliance rates across the country that improve weekly, but we are mindful of the unique work our agriculture community does and will use the following 90 days to ensure we publish more helpful guidance that all operators will benefit from,” Administrator Ray Martinez said in a statement.

Groups opposing the rule argue it's too costly for the trucking industry to implement. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which says truckers faced technical issues due to electronic logging, last month called on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to hold an oversight hearing on the regulation.

This story was updated at 3:48 p.m.