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Public Statements

Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


TRANSPORTATION EQUITY ACT: A LEGACY FOR USERS -- (House of Representatives - March 09, 2005)

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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The amendment I offer this afternoon also is an hours of service amendment, although perhaps the most narrow of the amendments offered today.

The existing law allows for an hours of service exemption for agricultural products during the time of harvest and planting. The amendment I offer simply clarifies two things. One, it defines what an agricultural commodity is, and basically would make clear that the definition includes livestock, milk and other farm products.

It does not include any products of agricultural products. So this is clearly about peanuts, not about peanut butter. It is about cotton; it is not about t-shirts. This exemption has been in existence for the last decade, as I understand, and in the desire to make more clear the definition, I offer this amendment.

This amendment will clear up the confusion that exists and will prevent FMCSA from arbitrarily eliminating agricultural commodities from the exemption in the future.

Other than these changes, the agricultural exemption remains the same. It is seasonal, applying only during designated months as designated and determined by the States to meet critical agricultural transportation needs.

This language is included in the base bill. The bill that I strongly support includes the language about hours of service exemption for agriculture commodities. The amendment I offer today does the two things I just mentioned: Clarifies what the definition of an agricultural product is, and indicates that the Secretary of Transportation cannot eat away at this amendment in its provision in its rulemaking authorities.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I obviously respect the opinion of the gentleman from Minnesota, who has long experience in regard to transportation, particularly hours of service issues. I am surprised somewhat by the characterization. He and I characterize my amendment differently. It is my understanding that the hours of service exemption for agricultural commodities, including the ones that are described specifically in my amendment, have been in place for a long period of time and only in 2002 did confusion arise with the issuance of a guidance from the Department of Transportation in regard to the definition of agricultural commodities.

Again, I would emphasize that this is designed to make clear that all agricultural commodities, not those that are just specifically named in the past, would be eligible. The crisis that an agricultural hauler, a trucker, has in getting agricultural commodities to market is the same regardless of which crop it is. I believe this amendment simply makes clear what has been the practice in the past and also makes certain that this rule-making authority is not utilized to eliminate the exemption in the future.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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