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2/11/2016 4:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Provision Affecting Meal, Rest Breaks Clears First Hurdle in House

Napolitano via
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members voted Feb. 11 to keep a provision tucked in an aviation reform bill that would prevent states from enacting laws requiring trucking companies to schedule meal-and-rest breaks for truck drivers or pay drivers by the hour.

By a 31-27 margin, an amendment introduced by Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), at a Feb. 11 committee markup of the aviation authorization bill, failed to gain committee support for stripping the pre-emption provision from the bill.

In offering her amendment to remove the language, Napolitano said 21 states and U.S. territories currently have requirements that motor carriers provide for meal-and-rest breaks for drivers.

She said requirements such as those in California are “very reasonable when you consider that truck drivers can be subjected to 14 hours of on-duty time.”

The 2011 California meal-break law, which has been mired in litigation, requires employers to provide a “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than five hours a day and a second “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for those who work more than 10 hours a day.

A similar provision contained in the aviation bill calling for pre-emption from the state laws originally was included in a House version of the 2015 surface transportation law, known as the FAST Act, but it was removed during conference with the Senate.

Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said trucking companies are pre-empted by federal law from a “patchwork” of regulatory meal-and-rest-break requirements like those in California that “undermine the efficency of interstate commerce.”

“This is an interstate commerce issue, and we have rules on the books dealing with interstate commerce, and California is doing things that are disupting that,” Shuster said. “We have trucking companies that are leaving California or deciding they are not going to go to California because of this.”

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By Eric Miller
Staff Reporter

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