House Lawmakers Unveil CDL Streamline Bill

LICENSE Act Would Make Two FMCSA Waivers Permanent
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Legislation meant to tackle the trucking industry’s driver shortage was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Lawmakers on April 28 unveiled the Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently, or LICENSE, Act. Specific to licensing regulations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the bill would make permanent two waivers issued by the agency. One would allow state driver’s licensing agencies to use certain third-party testers to administer CDL knowledge tests. The bill also would allow states to administer driving skills tests to certain out-of-state applicants.

“Worker and trucking shortages continue to be a persistent challenge for small businesses in central and northwestern Illinois, and the downstream effects are harming working families,” Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), a bill co-sponsor, said. He serves on the Ways and Means Committee on tax policy.

LaHood added, “As we face unprecedented supply chain challenges, this legislation will help streamline the process to obtain a commercial driver’s license and reduce unnecessary red tape. This common-sense legislation will give companies the ability to hire qualified, safe drivers and strengthen the economy in Illinois.”

Co-sponsoring the bill with LaHood are Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Josh Harder (D-Calif.). Endorsing the bill are various industry stakeholders, such as American Trucking Associations.

“The LICENSE Act is a prime example of how Congress can advance regulatory relief to address the driver shortage without compromising safety,” ATA President Chris Spear said in a statement. ATA recently determined the trucking workforce is short about 78,000 drivers.

Spear added, “FMCSA repeatedly granted these waivers during the pandemic, proving that they streamline the licensing process while maintaining the same high safety standards. Making them permanent will enable more professional truck drivers to focus on delivering for the American people, rather than dealing with bureaucratic red tape. We thank Reps. LaHood, Balderson, Johnson, Harder, Cuellar and Costa for their support and leadership.”

Other stakeholders also backed the bill.

“Given the severe shortage of truck drivers, we should be doing everything we can to streamline the training and credentialing process to get more people behind the wheel,” Matt Hart, executive director of the Illinois Trucking Association, said. “These waivers have been proven to reduce the complexity of obtaining a CDL while maintaining high safety standards, and it’s time to make them permanent.”

“This common-sense legislation eases the administrative roadblocks new drivers face in getting their commercial driver’s license,” Jerome Redmond, chairman of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, added. “CVTA member schools offer safety-focused, high-quality training to 100,000 entry-level drivers each year, and these students deserve policies that have their interests in mind.”

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Redmond continued, “The relief provided under this bipartisan proposal will allow drivers to become employed and start their driving careers more quickly and help address a workforce shortage in the trucking industry.”

The legislation was referred to a committee of jurisdiction, but its consideration has yet to be scheduled. A version of the bill was also introduced in the last session of Congress.

The Biden administration is working to advance programs designed to recruit and retain individuals seeking careers in trucking as part of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.