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February 22, 2022 1:43 PM, EST

Minnesota Trucking Leaders Set Effort for Lawmakers to Meet With Local Fleets

Adam Luhring, Jason Michels, Tom Emmer, Libby Wagner, Anthony Book, Brian Yager From left: Adam Luhring, Allstate Peterbilt; Jason Michels, Long Haul Trucking; Emmer; Libby Wagner, Service Plus Transport; Anthony Book, Long Haul; Brian Yager, Munson Lakes Nutrition. (Minnesota Trucking Association)

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With state fleet leaders’ annual trip to the U.S. Capitol disrupted due to COVID-related visitation limits, the Minnesota Trucking Association is instead inviting federal leaders to meet trucking executives on their home turf.

A grassroots effort to bring Minnesota’s federal delegates to a local truck terminal to hear from fleet leaders was coordinated with American Trucking Associations’ annual Call on Washington program. Under this initiative, trucking groups from various states meet directly with members of Congress, staffers, federal regulators and other stakeholders to discuss legislation and regulations affecting the industry.

John Hausladen, CEO of the Minnesota Trucking Association, said his group is a big believer in the ATA program, and is glad his members are still getting a chance to be heard by lawmakers.

Tom Emmer, Jason Michels

Emmer (left) and Jason Michels of Long Haul Trucking (center) meet with a mechanic at a truck terminal. (Minnesota Trucking Association)

“We’re disappointed that we can’t do it in the usual way, where we take a large delegation of members to D.C., so we’re going to flip it on its head and make sure we’re getting them to meet fleet leaders,” he said.

On Feb. 16 MTA hosted its first terminal visit for Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), a co-sponsor of the DRIVE-Safe Act. That bill, which established a training program to bring younger drivers into trucking, was included in the infrastructure legislation signed by President Joe Biden in November.

“We think this is a way to efficiently connect the constituents with the elected member,” Hausladen said, noting that last year the pandemic forced meetings to be virtual. “Part of the current strategy is to get lawmakers into facilities where they can have meaningful conversations that can go much deeper than when you’re sitting in a congressional office.”

During the visit, Emmer discussed with executives the trucking industry’s role in the supply chain, and ongoing difficulties obtaining equipment and parts. He also learned, from the cab of a new Peterbilt truck, about forward-facing cameras and crash-avoidance safety technology.

Hausladen said Emmer was interested in learning more about the soaring market for used equipment, including how some independent contractors are quitting the business due to the high value of their equipment.

“In some cases, you can have a 5-year-old truck and sell it today for the same or more than you paid for it, and you’ve got five years of use in it,” Hausladen said. “The unavailability of new trucks and the aggressive demand for new trucks is causing additional downstream impacts that affect the workforce in even greater ways.”

John Hausladen

Hausladen

Hausladen said MTA aims to host all members of its federal delegation before Election Day 2022, Nov. 8.

Among the group’s policy concerns are the supply chain, workforce development and infrastructure. For example, the MTA has urged Congress “to ensure that the allocated dollars goes toward investments into real infrastructure projects that will improve our roads and bridges, reduce bottlenecks, and address the growing supply chain crisis.”

The next scheduled visit is with Rep. Angie Craig (D). Other members of the state’s federal delegation include Reps. Michelle Fischbach (R), Dean Phillips (D), Betty McCollum (D), Ilhan Omar (D) and Pete Stauber (R). Its U.S. senators, both Democrats, are Amy Klobuchar (who serves on four committees including one on Commerce, Science and Transportation) and Tina Smith.

“This is a great partnership between the state associations and the ATA as we work to send consistent messaging,” Hausladen noted.

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