The House on Sept. 26 voted 398 to 23 in favor of a five-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization that is expected to be approved by the Senate and could mark one of the last major pieces of legislation to be enacted before the midterm elections.
The legislation, which was pre-conferenced to ensure that it moved quickly in the Upper Chamber, passed without the controversial trucking provision that would have preempted state standards on meal and rest breaks for commercial truck drivers.
Groups such as the American Trucking Associations and the Truckload Carriers Association supported efforts to preempt state laws on meal and rest breaks arguing that a patchwork of state regulations would create confusion and disrupt the industry.
California state law, for example, requires employers to provide employees with an “off duty” 30-minute meal period after every five hours worked and an additional 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked despite that federal law requires a break after eight hours.
The decision by Congress to drop the controversial provision — which was opposed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association — came just days before the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) determined that federal law preempts California’s meal and rest break requirements for all motor vehicle operators that transport hazardous materials.
PHMSA recently granted a request from the National Tank Truck Carriers Association (NTTC) to exempt HazMat haulers finding that the California’s state requirements “create an unnecessary delay” in transporting hazardous materials.
Congress has until Sept. 30 to reauthorize the FAA.
Among its many provisions, the FAA bill reauthorizes the National Transportation Safety Board and Transportation Security Administration; would give federal regulators the authority to set minimum standards for seat size and leg room on flights; and provide $1.7 billion in aid for areas damaged by Hurricane Florence.
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