Rocky Mountain Trucking LLC

Truck drivers would be eligible for up to $10,000 in tax credits, along with training incentives, as part of new bipartisan legislation aimed at retaining and recruiting drivers.

The Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act, introduced on Tuesday by U.S. Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., and Jim Costa, D-Calif., also incorporates truck parking funding and an hours-of-service exemption for livestock haulers — long-sought measures by drivers and carriers.

The lawmakers called the bill a “sweeping overhaul of the interstate trucking supply chain system.” Johnson sees it as an extension to last year’s Ocean Shipping Reform Act. 

“Last year we addressed ocean shipping reform, and it’s clear that updates are needed for other parts of the supply chain. The SHIP IT Act will bridge gaps, keep costs down for consumers, and make it easier for shippers to move products across the U.S.,” Johnson commented in introducing the bill.

“We need to recruit, train, and retain truck drivers to keep our supply chain moving, while also updating best practices to improve trucking to fit our modern economy,” Costa said. “That is why we introduced this bipartisan legislation to strengthen the workforce and make it easier to move products across the country.”

Drivers holding a Class A CDL would have to make adjusted gross income of not more than $90,000 or $135,000 per year, depending on their filing status, to be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit, according to the 28-page bill. A driver would be required to have had at least 1,900 hours of on-duty time, including driving time. New truck drivers who did not drive a truck during the preceding tax year would be eligible for $10,000 under the same rules.

The legislation would also amend the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which helps job seekers access employment and training, to allow truck drivers to offset entry-level driver training costs “including the cost of course materials, supplies, technology, and fees for graduation, licensure, or certification.”

Dedicated funding to expand truck parking — $755 million over the next four years — is incorporated into the bill and includes many of the eligibility requirements that were in Senate and House truck parking capacity bills introduced in the last Congress.

The legislation also would loosen hours-of-service restrictions on agriculture and livestock haulers, as well as make it easier for states to waive hours-of-service rules during emergencies.

Several shipper groups have come out early in support of the legislation, including the Shippers Coalition, the Consumer Brands Association and the American Chemistry Council (ACC), whose members are concerned that trucking industry constraints could hinder growth and investments.

“This bill removes numerous regulatory barriers that will make it easier for truckers to do their job — delivering critical products across the country,” said ACC President and CEO Chris Jahn.

“These regulatory reforms are vital to meeting the current and future transportation needs of our industry, as well as the farmers, manufacturers and energy producers who depend on the business of chemistry. We strongly urge Congress to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”

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