Tuesday, November 19, 2019

ATA leaders head to Washington to push trucking’s agenda

Alabama Trucking Association leaders were at the nation’s capital last week (November 13-14) for its annual Call on Washington, a legislative affairs program of the American Trucking Associations that provides state trucking association executives, leadership, business leaders, and staff an opportunity to discuss important legislation and regulations affecting the industry with Members of Congress, key congressional staff, federal regulators, and fellow industry leaders.

ATA leaders have participated in the program for the past three years, sending dozens of members and other stakeholders to further promote the trucking industry’s interests and mission on Capitol Hill.

This year’s delegation included ATA Chairman Tom McLeod, accompanied by his wife Annette; ATA Immediate Past Chairman Fenn Church; State Vice President to the American Trucking Associations Greg Brown; Past Chairman Wayne Watkins; ATA board members at large Andrew Linn and Daniel Wright; and ATA staffers Mark Colson and Brandie Norcross.

The trip began with a meeting with Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, who has been an important ally for the trucking industry’s quest for vast infrastructure improvements and funding. Here in Alabama, his leadership has led to several new construction and improvements, particularly at the Port of Mobile.

The following morning the group was briefed on key issues and talking points from National ATA’s Legislative Affairs and Lobbying team before visiting with top state Congressional leaders, including a lunch meeting and facetime with Rep. Bradley Byrne; Rep. Gary Palmer; Rep. Mike Rogers, Rep. Martha Roby; and Rep. Mo Brooks, all of whom had an impressive grasp of issues facing trucking.

ATA’s delegation specifically highlighted transportation infrastructure funding, which the trucking industry has been on record for years in support of sustainable, long term funding for the federal-aid highway program through increased fuel taxes at both the state and federal level; and tort reform, a key issue for the industry going forward.

The group also promoted measures for workforce development, including a pilot program for interstate truck drivers to include those under 21 with previous military experience and civilian drivers under 21 who have a CDL and meet other minimum qualification standards. ATA leaders further described the industry’s continued support for the creation of an apprenticeship program that would train 18-21-year-old CDL holders to drive trucks in interstate commerce. ATA supports efforts aimed at reducing states’ CDL skills-testing delays and creating career pathways in trucking for veterans and youth who are neither in school or work.

ATA Chairman McLeod said that National ATA’s Call on Washington is an excellent tool to educate elected officials on important matters for trucking.

“Our trip was successful on many levels,” said McLeod. “Trucking faces many (obstacles), and looking ahead, we used this time to inform our Members of Congress about important issues affecting us heading into the next decade. Topics such as tort reform, which is a top priority for trucking. One of the points made during our time with Chris Spear and his staff (at the American Trucking Associations) is that tort reform will be a long battle — and much of the fight will take place at the state level. A trip like this is so crucial in informing our political leaders to get the ball rolling.”

ATA’s representative for the American Trucking Associations Greg Brown added that congress hears daily from National ATA’s talented team of lobbyists, but it’s also important for them to hear from their constituents from back home.

“Talking to directly to the folks back home most impacted by policy these leaders create and vote on is a powerful means of growing support for legislation that truly matters,” Brown said.