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12/27/2013 10:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Year in Review: Regulatory Successes, Growth of Budget Highlight ‘Challenging Year,’ Graves Says

By Eric Miller, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Dec. 23 & 30 print edition of Transport Topics.

It many ways, 2013 was a good year for American Trucking Associations.

From a regulatory standpoint, ATA enjoyed some significant successes, saw its organizational budget grow thanks to new non-dues revenue and its membership remain relatively stable, ATA President Bill Graves said.

“It’s been a very busy year, a full, challenging year,” Graves said. “In a way, it’s been a fairly typical year — there’s been both ups and downs.”

Among ATA’s successes was a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning portions of the Port of Los Angeles clean truck concession agreement that ATA said overburdened truckers servicing the port.

“That sent a strong message to a lot of our opponents when it came to the business model surrounding owner-operators,” said Michael Card, whose tenure as federation chairman ended in October. “That was a huge win for the industry, and it’s going to have repercussions for years to come.”

The other major ATA victory was a recent change of heart by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration — largely the result of legislative prodding by Congress — to agree to take its sleep apnea requirements to a future rulemaking, rather than issuing guidance, said Card, president of Combined Transport in Central Point, Ore.

“To me, what that says to the FMCSA and other regulatory agencies is when the trucking industry stands up, stands united and speaks with one voice, we can get Congress to do what we need to make sure that our industry stays strong,” he said. “And that means overriding bad regulations.”

However, not all of 2013 was rosy. An appeals court decision in August to uphold FMCSA’s new hours-of-service rule was disappointing, Graves said.

Despite the ruling, Graves said he believes that recent attempts by industry stakeholders to publicly raise concerns about the HOS rule’s effect on safety and productivity are gathering steam.

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