Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Just in from Washington

Surface Transportation Bills on Hold for Presidents’ Day Recess

Washington--Work on surface transportation reauthorization bills was stop and go last week in the House and the Senate, with both chambers ultimately putting their bills off at least until lawmakers return to Capitol Hill the week of Feb. 27, after the Presidents Day constituent work period.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he is committed to getting the Senate reauthorization bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (S. 1813), passed in March.

Growers want to make sure the Senate legislation includes an amendment offered by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would allow farmers and ranchers who live near state borders to transport their products to the closest processing facilities, even if it may be in a neighboring state.

The House transportation bill (H.R. 7) contains Farm Bureau-supported provisions that would clarify the hours of service exemption for agriculture and exempt farm vehicles, including the individual operating the vehicle, from any requirement related to commercial driver’s licenses, drug testing and hours of service.

Another important provision would allow farmers and custom harvesters with a Class A commercial driver’s license to transport up to 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel without having to obtain a hazardous material endorsement if the service vehicle is clearly marked with a label reading “Diesel Fuel.”

Farm Bureau News

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