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This legislation was introduced on September 21, 2012 and passed by the Senate on the second day after its introduction. The House of Representatives passed the legislation on the 28th of November, 2012. The legislation passed both stages without any amendment and objection. The bill became a Public Law, No: 112-196 on October 19, 2012 after being signed by the US President. The bill revised part of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) section with which the states were opposed to individuals acquiring CDLs in other states.
This legislation was aimed at allowing states to issue CDLs to military servicemen and women operating or willing to operate heavy, commercial vehicles regardless of their states of residence. However, the recommendation for qualification required a person to be an active duty member of the armed force like the National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, and Armed Forces Reserves amongst others (Truckinginfo.com, para. 3).
Sponsors and Cosponsors of the bill
The bill was sponsored by Senator Snowe Olympia J., and co-sponsored by ten Senators. The ten Senators included:
Sen. Begich, Mark
Sen. Brown, Scott P.
Sen. Brown, Sherrod
Sen. Inhofe, James M.
Sen. Isakson, Johnny
Sen. Klobuchar, Amy
Sen. Moran, Jerry
Sen. Murray, Patty
Sen. Rockefeller, John D., IV
Sen. Rubio, Marco
In addition, the legislation passed through the Senate and House of Representatives without any objection and amendment. Moreover, even the President accented to the bill without second thoughts. Apart from the Senate and House of Representatives, other associations provided support for this legislation. These include the America’s Trucking Association, Military Officers, Legion, and Independent Drivers.
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Strengths of the legislation
The CDL law would eliminate some of the obstacles hindering veteran drivers from acquiring commercial driving licenses. Under the previous law, commercial driving licenses were only available to individuals who were legal residents of the state. The military personnel were the major victims of this law. In this case, the majority of them received their driving training away from their home states such as in their stations of duty.
This law posed a challenge for the people to obtain the commercial driving license before leaving the military. Adoption of the new CDL law provided a platform upon which states could issue the CDLs to veterans posted in other states. According to Sen. Snowe who sponsored the bill, it was unbearable to see many veterans especially those who were returning from Afghanistan and Iraq unable to secure CDLs and enter into the civilian profession of which they had world class experience.
The legislation would reduce the unemployment rate for the veteran drivers. The legislation was also meant to address the shortage of drivers in the trucking industry (Dick, p. 109). The veteran drivers needed employment, and the trucking industry required drivers too.
An estimate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 13 percent growth rate in employment for heavy truck drivers for a period of ten years: from 2008 to 2018. However, with the passing of the CDLs law, the growth rate is expected to rise tremendously. As of October 2012, the shortage of truck drivers ranged between 20,000 and 30,000 nationally. This has been reflected in the American Trucking Association quarterly report.
Weaknesses of the legislation
The CDL and Department of Transportation have set strict driving requirements and qualification standards, which limit most applicants. The trucking industry has been struggling with these issues, and the introduction of CDLs will only complicate the processes. In this respect, the law only favors one side, which is the military service. This is attributed to the fact that veterans leave their jobs with a lot of experience in driving and maintenance of heavy vehicles.
Additionally, the medical requirements for CDLs, as set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, are also strict, thus blocking the majority of drivers. For example, a person is not supposed to be color blind, should not have any impairment, and the hearing or vision capacity is required to be good enough. This is a disadvantage to the military veterans who would have obtained some impairments during their service regardless of their experience.
Another blow to the CDL law is the high costs of acquiring the CDLs. The majority of the veterans plus some of the companies lack the required amount of capital to acquire the CDL and train drivers respectively. The cost of a CDL is estimated to be about $46, 000 for new truck drivers.
This will create considerable shortages of heavy vehicle drivers because even the experienced drivers without CDLs have to quit their jobs or otherwise acquire the CDL. In regard to the companies, only a few of them are training and acquiring CDLs for their employees.
District concerns of the legislation
This legislation was of primary concern to many congressional district states. The majority of the constituents of congressional districts such as Maryland, Tennessee, and Minnesota supported the legislation.
Fundraising opportunities for the legislation
This legislation is highly supported, and it has various sources of funding for its implementation. First, the department responsible for Veterans Affairs (VA) would be willing to fund this legislation. This is attributed to the fact that the department is committed to improving the lives of veterans through the Veterans supportive service programs. On the other hand, the legislation stronghold would focus on funding veterans to acquire CDLs and relevant training.
The committee or subcommittee involved in this legislation was the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The activities of this committee in the legislation were referral and discharging of the legislation. The committee played a crucial role in ensuring the legislation progressed beyond the committee stage.
Based on the above information regarding the legislation, several recommendations can be reached. Implementation of CDL would require to be facilitated similarly and appropriately in all the states. This is in respect to various aspects such as qualification/requirements, cost, training, coverage and employment.
In relation to qualification/requirements, standards set for this legislation should be revised to incorporate the equality aspect in all states. Some of the states have different qualifying standards for CDLs. This would diminish the goal of this legislation if ignored.
Furthermore, the costs of acquiring the CDLs especially for new drivers should be revised. As mentioned above, high costs of CDLs eliminate potential veteran drivers. Training of drivers operating or aspiring to operate commercial vehicles should be enhanced in order to overcome drivers’ shortage on the basis of experience.
The CDL legislation requires to be expanded to include other civilians apart from the military servicemen and women. Although its major target was the veteran personnel, this legislation should incorporate other interested individuals.
Dick, Robert M. The Trucking Industry and the Implementation of the Commercial Driver’s License. United States: ProQuest, 2008. Print.
Truckinginfo.com 9/27/2012 Bill Would Make it Easier for Service Members to Get CDL. 2012. Web. https://www.truckinginfo.com/