Driver's Education
Nov 20, 2019

LEAD STORY

Marking the relentless passage of time, my middle child will be eligible to earn his learner’s permit this Friday.   Time to brush up on our driver’s ed materials!  All signs indicate that the transportation sector is being tested this week.

 

Check Brakes

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Test Brakes.  A transportation association filed a lawsuit to try to stop California’s AB 5, a sweeping new labor law that seeks to give wage and benefit protections to workers in the gig economy.  Plaintiff California Trucking Association alleges that AB 5 violates federal law, deprives more than 70,000 independent truckers of their ability to work, devalues their investments in clean energy trucks, and limits their right to set their own schedules.  Assembly Bill 5, which is to take effect January 1, 2020, makes it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees under the so-called, “ABC Test.”  We are following this litigation closely.

 

Merge Added Lane

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Merge with Added Lanes.  Across the country, New Jersey will add to the growing number of jurisdictions codifying the ABC Test for independent contractor status for owner operators.  Lawmakers in Trenton introduced S 4204, a bill that closely parallels California’s AB5Commentators suggest the bill could significantly raise trucking costs in the Garden State, the 2nd largest gateway for container shipments into the United States. More than 80% of the containers that move through New York-New Jersey marine terminals are carried on a truck, with almost two-thirds of those shipments destined for warehousing in New Jersey.  There is a further merge ahead—lawmakers in New York are floating a similar ABC Test bill for 2020.

 

Toll Road

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Pay Toll Ahead.  Also this week, the New Jersey Labor Department is seeking more than $640 million from Uber in taxes and penalties, alleging that the ride-hailing company misclassified its drivers as independent contractors.  New Jersey’s Labor Department claims that the rideshare giant owes $523 million in overdue taxes from the last four years and is also facing fines and interest of $119 million.  In other news, Seattle-based startup Convoy, valued at $2.7 billion, has raised a total of $668 million, with $400 million in a funding round co-led by Generation Investment Management, Former Vice President Al Gore’s sustainable investing firm.  We’re counting the coins in the cup holder as these divergent trends emerge.   

 

Bike Lanes

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Cyclists. Following a spike in bicycle deaths, the National Transportation Safety Board recommends that municipalities require bicyclists of all ages to wear helmets.  In September, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio faced backlash from cycling advocates after considering requiring Citi Bike users to wear helmets.  While the NTSB report generally outlines the significant health benefits of wearing helmets, cyclist groups maintain that bicycle safety depends on capital investments in municipal infrastructure.  Let’s turn to federal funding next.  

 

Federal Transport

Narrow Bridge

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Narrow Bridge Ahead. This week, the U.S. DOT announced $900 million in BUILD (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) program grants, which is a discretionary grant program originally known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER), an Obama administration era stimulus response to the Great Recession in 2009.  The comparison between grant recipients under the two administrations shows the stark contrast between federal transportation priorities: President Trump’s DOT reduced its commitments to mass transit and rail improvements, zeroed out bike and pedestrian projects, and doubled the share of dollars to expand bridge work, build roads, and modernize overpasses up to $603 million, representing some 68 percent of the FY2019 spending.

 

Narrow Bridge

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Trucks Entering the Roadway.  Also this week, lawmakers in the U.S. Senate introduced legislation that would require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to take a formal role in supporting women drivers.  The bi-partisan “Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act” directs the FMCSA administrator to create a Women of Trucking Advisory Board. The board would be tasked with identifying ways trucking companies, trucking associations, and other groups can support women pursuing trucking careers, as well as finding opportunities to enhance training, education, and outreach programs exclusive to women.  Leading transportation associations laud the bill, commending the requirement that FMCSA report the advisory board's findings and recommendations to both houses of Congress.

 

Making Our Way Around the Country

TEXAS

The Texas Department of Insurance (DOI) will implement new rules permitting nurse practitioners to help guide the treatment of injured workers.  Texas House Bill 387 amended the state’s workers’ compensation act to include licensed advanced-practice RNs as persons to whom a treating doctor may delegate the authority to complete and file work status reports for injured workers.  In addition to conforming to the new state law, the DOI is proposing that the delegating treating doctor is responsible for the acts of the licensed advanced practice registered nurse.

 

PENNSYLVANIA

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the 2002 statute of repose for medical malpractice unconstitutionally violated the right of access to the courts.  A statute of repose is an absolute bar to claims being brought after a certain period of time regardless of whether the injury is discovered later or the claim accrues later.  The Court found that the statute lacked any substantial relationship to the legislative goal of controlling malpractice insurance costs and premiums.  A number of states have enacted statutes of repose limiting medical liability suits; however, courts in at least six other states including Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Utah, have struck them down.

 

TERRORISM RISK INSURANCE

United States SenatorsThom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) introduced bi-partisan legislation in the United States Senate that would extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program through December 31, 2027.  The current program expires at the end of 2020. Yesterday, by a vote of 385-22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4634, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIA) of 2019, a bill that will reauthorize TRIA for seven years.  The quick introduction and markup of the Senate bill paves the way for the bill to move through the committee, one of the final hurdles for the program’s long-term extension. 

 

MARIJUANA

And, later this morning, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a mark-up hearing on H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act.  This legislation would decriminalize marijuana federally and reassess marijuana-related convictions.  We will track the results of the mark-up and report back to you in future editions of The Way.

 

DRIVING EDUCATION

Back to our main story, this week is American Education Week, an opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference to ensure that every child receives a quality education.  The first observance of American Education Week occurred in 1921.  The theme of this year’s 98th annual celebration is Reach. Educate. Inspire.  And speaking of, we are pleased to welcome our newest readers and colleagues from the Council of Great City Schools.  It was a pleasure to work with you in Austin, Texas last week.  Keep up your inspiring work around the country!

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