Senate bill would fund surface-safety programs, simplify HOS exemptions

The Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) said the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015 last week.

Should this bill pass, the Department of Transportation's surface-safety transportation programs would be funded through 2021, and it would take steps to improve oversight and increase regulatory efficiency.

AED said the bill also simplifies the application process for an exemption from hours-of-service requirements (HOS). Under the bill, the secretary of transportation would make public, within 30 days, an application for exemption and set up a 30- to 60-day public comment period, based on the complexity of the request. After public comments, the department would have 60 days to review the request to determine whether to grant or deny the exemption.

Any exemption typically would last for five years, with opportunities for renewal or a permanent extension. Certain limited exemptions in effect currently also would be made permanent if this bill were to be passed and become law. The full process between application and the final decision would take 120 to 150 days.

Currently, the Senate Finance Committee and the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee have yet to approve their assigned portions of the transportation bill that involve revenue and transit measures.

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