Johnson-sponsored bill overhauls commercial trucking workforce, supply chain

U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) on Tuesday sponsored a comprehensive, bipartisan bill that would strengthen America’s commercial trucking workforce and overhaul the interstate trucking supply chain system by making it easier to move products across the country.

The Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act, H.R. 471, which Rep. Johnson introduced with original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), aims to increase safety and shipping capacity for truckers, incentivize the hiring and retention of new drivers, and offer driving flexibility during emergencies, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Johnson’s office.

“Americans experienced a slew of freight disruptions during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year we addressed ocean shipping reform, and it’s clear that updates are needed for other parts of the supply chain,” Rep. Johnson said. “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.”

Specifically, H.R. 471 would update the authority for certain vehicle waivers during emergencies. For instance, a state may issue special permits during an emergency to overweight vehicles and loads that can easily be dismantled or divided under specific conditions, according to the text of the bill. 

The measure also would allow truck drivers to apply for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grants and incentivize new truck drivers to enter the workforce through targeted and temporary tax credits.

Additionally, H.R. 471 would streamline the commercial driver’s license (CDL) process, making it easier for states and third parties to administer CDL tests, and expand access to truck parking and rest facilities for commercial drivers, the summary says.

“Disruptions in our trucking supply chain continue to drive up costs and create uncertainty for American consumers and producers,” said Rep. Costa. “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. That is why we introduced this bipartisan legislation ”

The Shippers Coalition, Hendrickson Holdings LLC, the International Dairy Foods Association, the National Milk Producers Federation, and the Consumer Brands Association endorsed the proposed bill.