Two other notable pieces of legislation were introduced during the Congressional summer work period - one that would permit the tandem delivery of trailers from manufacturers to dealers nationwide, a priority for NATM. Another that would make significant changes to NHTSA. As Congress debates the long-term highway program extension, both proposals are expected to be part of the conversation.
Safe & Efficient Trailer Delivery Act
On June 25th, Representative Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), introduced companion bills in the House and Senate that would permit light- and medium-duty trailer manufacturers to deliver unladen trailers to their dealers in tandem combinations, subject to existing vehicle limitations. Representative Jenkins was joined in the effort by Representatives Steve Stivers (R-OH), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Collin Peterson (D-MN). Senator Moran was joined by Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and James Inhofe (R-OK).
These pieces of legislation, H.R. 2904 and S. 1692, represent a common sense policy that would benefit manufacturers, dealers and consumers, while decreasing the number of vehicles on the road and standardizing policy nationwide rather than forcing manufacturers to navigate a complicated patchwork of state laws. NATM has advocated for this policy in recent years and continues to push for its adoption.
We encourage manufacturers and dealers to contact their legislators and urge them to support these bills (for assistance in such outreach, please contact NATM headquarters).
Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2015
The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2015 (S. 1743) was introduced on July 9th by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA). The legislation would, if enacted, make significant changes to NHTSA’s authorities, particularly as they relate to recall processes, consumer information production, significantly increased civil penalties and potential for criminal penalties for individuals and companies willfully failing to inform NHTSA of serious defects likely to cause significant injury.
In addition, the legislation would strengthen NHTSA’s imminent hazard authority which enables the agency to make an initial decision concerning a defect or non-compliance. Manufacturers facing such a situation would be provided 10 days for an administrative review of the determination. SB 1743 also contains a provision limiting the sale of passenger motor vehicles until defects are remedied, a provision that does not apply to light- and medium-duty trailers.
Finally, the proposal would require states to agree that when motor vehicle owners register their vehicles the NHTSA recall database be searched for the vehicle’s VIN and the owner notified of any unresolved recalls. While this legislation is unlikely to move forward in the Senate this year as a stand alone measure, it can be expected that its sponsors will work to incorporate the solutions they propose into other legislative vehicles to be considered by this Congress, including the highway reauthorization.
Once Congress returns to Washington, DC after its customary August district work period, many important issues will need to be considered in a short period of time. It can be expected that a flurry of activity will take place over that time including intense negotiations both on policy and funding mechanisms.
NATM and its government affairs team will be working closely with stakeholders across the industry during this time to ensure the interests and unique characteristics of the light- and medium-duty trailer industry are understood by legislators and regulators as they make important decisions for the future of our transportation system.
Darrell Conner is a Government Affairs Counselor and Dennis Potter is a Government Affairs Analyst at the law and lobbying firm of K&L Gates, where they represent NATM and other clients on legislative, regulatory, policy and political matters. Conner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and Potter can be reached at email@example.com.