Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

03/19/2019 01:30 PM TRANSPORTATION

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Audio Topic
01:31:02 PM Start
01:31:45 PM SB75
02:09:23 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
           SB  75-COMMERCIAL VEHICLE LICENSING REQ'S                                                                        
CHAIR HUGHES  announced the  consideration of  SENATE BILL  NO. 75                                                              
"An  Act  relating  to  a license  to  drive  a  commercial  motor                                                              
She invited Mr. Plesha to the witness table.                                                                                    
1:31:45 PM                                                                                                                    
JOE   PLESHA,   Staff,   Senator  Mia   Costello,   Alaska   State                                                              
Legislature, Juneau,  introduced SB  75 speaking to  the following                                                              
sponsor statement: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                             
     Nationally  and in state, there  is a commercial  driver                                                                   
     shortage.   Currently,  Alaska   is  looking  to   court                                                                   
     projects  of  considerable  size, like  the  Alaska  LNG                                                                   
     pipeline.    The   demand    for   interstate    freight                                                                   
     transportation must be met.                                                                                                
     Driving  interstate   freight  and  intrastate   freight                                                                   
     requires   separate   licenses.   To  qualify   for   an                                                                   
     interstate  Commercial Driver's  License  a person  must                                                                   
     be 21  years of age, while  a driver with  an intrastate                                                                   
     Commercial  Driver's License  must be  19 years of  age.                                                                   
     Presumably,  two  identically   loaded  tractor  trailer                                                                   
     rigs  require   differing  ages  to  drive   them.  This                                                                   
     arbitrary  inconsistency  in  regulation  restricts  the                                                                   
     available pool of Alaskan commercial drivers.                                                                              
     SB  75  changes  the statue  regarding  the  license  to                                                                   
     drive  a   commercial  motor  vehicle  to   reflect  two                                                                   
     changes. First,  it changes the minimum  age requirement                                                                   
     from  19  years  old  to  18   years  old  when  driving                                                                   
     intrastate  commerce. Second, it  adds a new  subsection                                                                   
     regarding  interstate  commerce,  changing  the  minimum                                                                   
     age  requirement for  a Commercial  Driver's License  to                                                                   
     18,  if the  federal law  regarding interstate  commerce                                                                   
     is also changed.                                                                                                           
     In  the  long  run,  SB 75  will  increase  pressure  to                                                                   
     change  the   Federal  statute.  As  a   more  immediate                                                                   
     effect,  it will  also increase  the  available pool  of                                                                   
     drivers   for   intrastate    commerce   by   recruiting                                                                   
     graduating  high  schoolers   who  wish  to  immediately                                                                   
     enter  the work force.  This bill  will help  businesses                                                                   
     and create jobs alike.                                                                                                     
1:35:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  asked if  Congress had  done any  work to  lower the                                                              
minimum   age  requirement   to  18   for  commercial   interstate                                                              
truckers,  and if  other  states had  passed  legislation to  help                                                              
move the idea forward at the federal level.                                                                                     
MR.  PLESHA  reported  SB  75 was  patterned  after  the  Colorado                                                              
model.  He  didn't  know  if  other   states  had  passed  similar                                                              
legislation or  if there  was any progress  on the federal  level.                                                              
He offered to do some research and follow up with the committee.                                                                
CHAIR HUGHES highlighted  safety and asked if  18-year-old drivers                                                              
and 19-year-old  drivers are  statistically similar  for insurance                                                              
MR. PLESHA  offered to  do some  research and  follow up  with the                                                              
1:37:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  said the  training programs  emphasize safety  which                                                              
gives  her  confidence  that  18-year-old  drivers  who  meet  the                                                              
requirements  would  be  as  prepared   as  qualified  19-year-old                                                              
1:37:37 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
1:37:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES reconvened the meeting.                                                                                            
SENATOR  KIEHL   asked  for  clarification  on   what  constitutes                                                              
interstate commerce versus intrastate commerce.                                                                                 
MR. PLESHA  explained that freight  that crosses  state boundaries                                                              
is  interstate  and  freight  that   moves  within  the  state  is                                                              
SENATOR KIEHL asked  if an 18-year-old could drive  a truck to the                                                              
barge line if the freight was headed out of state.                                                                              
MR. PLESHA deferred to Aves Thompson.                                                                                           
1:39:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KIEHL asked,  should  the bill  pass,  if an  18-year-old                                                              
with a  CDL could  drive a tour  bus around  town that  was filled                                                              
with tourists from out of state.                                                                                                
MR. PLESHA deferred to Aves Thompson.                                                                                           
CHAIR  SHOWER wondered  if the  rental car  cutoff at  age 25  was                                                              
based  on actuarial  data. He  requested data  on insurance  costs                                                              
based  on the  driver's  age because  it  could potentially  drive                                                              
insurance costs  for all companies  that require their  drivers to                                                              
have a CDL. He  also asked for data on accident  rates for the age                                                              
range  of 18 to  21. He  said this  is potentially  very good  for                                                              
jobs,   but  it   makes   sense  to   look   for  any   unintended                                                              
1:41:14 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE joined the meeting.                                                                                            
MR. PLESHA said he would follow up.                                                                                             
CHAIR HUGHES thanked Mr. Plesha and turned to invited testimony.                                                                
1:42:06 PM                                                                                                                    
AVES  THOMPSON, Executive  Director,  Alaska Trucking  Association                                                              
(ATA),  Anchorage, stated  that  ATA is  a statewide  organization                                                              
representing  nearly 200  member companies.  He described  freight                                                              
moving  as  an  essential  element of  the  economy  that  impacts                                                              
people  every day.  He related that  a challenge  in the  trucking                                                              
industry  is  that  commercial   driving  licenses  are  currently                                                              
limited  to those who  are 19  years old  to transport  intrastate                                                              
freight and  21 years  old to transport  interstate freight.  This                                                              
creates a  gap for those  young men and  women who  have graduated                                                              
high school and  are interested in immediately  beginning a career                                                              
as  a truck  driver.  Freight  hauling  businesses can  only  tell                                                              
these  young  people to  come  back  when  they're old  enough  to                                                              
obtain a CDL.                                                                                                                   
He highlighted  that depending on  the nature of the  freight, two                                                              
identical  trucks  may need  an  intrastate  CDL  for one  and  an                                                              
interstate  CDL for  the other.  The intrastate  driver may  be 19                                                              
and  the interstate  driver  must  be 21.  State  law governs  the                                                              
minimum age  for an intrastate driver,  and Section 1 of  the bill                                                              
reduces the  minimum age one year  to allow an  18-year-old driver                                                              
to  receive an  intrastate  commercial driver's  license.  Federal                                                              
law governs  the age of interstate  commercial drivers.  Section 2                                                              
tells the  federal government that  when Congress changes  the law                                                              
to  allow  younger  interstate  drivers,  Alaska  will  be  ready.                                                              
Reducing the eligibility  for a CDL to age 18 allows  a student to                                                              
go  directly from  high  school  to training  to  be a  commercial                                                              
truck  driver.  He  said  it's   a  great  opportunity  for  young                                                              
Alaskans and will  potentially build a larger driver  pool to meet                                                              
increasing demands,  particularly if there is a  major project. He                                                              
urged the committee to pass the bill.                                                                                           
1:45:26 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WILSON  asked  the  timeframe   to  get  a  CDL  and  the                                                              
endorsements needed  to work for  companies like  Lynden Transport                                                              
and Carlile Transportation Systems.                                                                                             
MR. THOMPSON  said it  varies depending on  the experience  of the                                                              
driver.  Training  that assumes  the  driver knows  nothing  about                                                              
commercial  driving  can  last 5-6  weeks.  It  includes  hands-on                                                              
training, classroom  training, a written  test, and a  skills test                                                              
all  of  which will  allow  the  student  to  obtain a  CDL.  Many                                                              
companies   also    have   their   own   training    requirements,                                                              
particularly  for new  CDL holders.  A  new driver  may be  paired                                                              
with a  seasoned driver until  it's clear  that the new  driver is                                                              
able  to manage  the  vehicle. It  might  be 6  months  to a  year                                                              
before  the new  driver is  deemed ready  to take  a $250,000  rig                                                              
down the road alone, he said.                                                                                                   
SENATOR  WILSON  observed  that,  as  currently  written,  someone                                                              
could  receive their  CDL and drive  a truck  during their  senior                                                              
year in high school.                                                                                                            
MR. THOMPSON said yes, if they're a senior at age 18.                                                                           
1:47:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE asked  about the current status of  the effort to                                                              
change the [U.S.  Department of Transportation] rule,  49 CFR to a                                                              
lower age.  He acknowledged  this may  have been answered  earlier                                                              
in the meeting when he was absent.                                                                                              
MR. THOMPSON clarified  that it will take a statute  change at the                                                              
federal level and  both the American Trucking Association  and the                                                              
Alaska Trucking  Association  have supported  the effort  for some                                                              
time.  He expressed  hope for something  to come  out of  Congress                                                              
this  session  that  will  help  set  the  stage  for  18-year-old                                                              
1:49:13 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  asked if  he believes  that Congress might  actually                                                              
pass the relevant legislation this year.                                                                                        
MR. THOMPSON estimated  the odds were even and added  that it will                                                              
take pressure from the states to get Congress to act.                                                                           
SENATOR  KIEHL referenced  his earlier  question  about where  the                                                              
federal  government   draws  the   line  between  intrastate   and                                                              
interstate.  The sponsor's  staff  indicated  that freight  coming                                                              
from Seattle  is considered interstate  freight between  the barge                                                              
terminal  and the  Ketchikan  Walmart.  He asked  if  he needs  an                                                              
older  driver to  move freight  from his  house in  Juneau to  the                                                              
barge terminal when the destination is Seattle.                                                                                 
MR. THOMPSON answered yes.                                                                                                      
SENATOR KIEHL  asked if a  tour bus driver  in Alaska needs  to be                                                              
21 to carry cruise ship passengers that come from out of state.                                                                 
MR. THOMPSON said  the federal government has made  a very nuanced                                                              
distinction  there. If  arrangements  for the  land excursion  are                                                              
made  on the  cruise  ship, that  is an  interstate  trip. If  the                                                              
passenger  purchases a  trip when  they're off  the ship and  it's                                                              
not prearranged,  that  is an intrastate  trip.  He said this  has                                                              
long been a point of contention with the cruise industry.                                                                       
1:53:21 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WILSON asked  how many  commercial drivers  are 19  years                                                              
MR.  THOMPSON replied  the  Division of  Motor  Vehicles has  that                                                              
SENATOR  WILSON   asked  about  the  minimum   qualifications  for                                                              
driving  a  commercial   vehicle  and  said  he   didn't  want  to                                                              
incentivize students  to drop out  of high school to  become truck                                                              
MR. THOMPSON replied, "Trucking is a proud profession Senator."                                                                 
SENATOR  WILSON  clarified  that  wants students  to  finish  high                                                              
school or get their GED first.                                                                                                  
1:54:34 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  THOMPSON  explained  that   both  interstate  and  intrastate                                                              
drivers  must meet  physical and  performance-based  requirements,                                                              
regardless of  their age. He said  he sees this as  an opportunity                                                              
for young men  or women who don't  want to go to school  any more,                                                              
but they want a  job. Within a couple of years  they can make good                                                              
SENATOR  WILSON asked  if most  trucking companies  or school  bus                                                              
companies require either a GED or a high school diploma.                                                                        
MR. THOMPSON  replied drivers need  the ability to read  and write                                                              
and   federal  regulations   require   drivers  to   be  able   to                                                              
communicate  with  an enforcement  officer.  He said  he  believes                                                              
it's up to  the individual company  to decide if a diploma  or GED                                                              
is required.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES asked  if the  cost of  insurance for  a trucker  is                                                              
higher or lower depending on their age.                                                                                         
MR.  THOMPSON  replied  that  has   been  an  issue  because  some                                                              
insurance  carriers don't  want anyone driving  for their  insured                                                              
who is  under age 25. Other  companies allow younger  drivers, but                                                              
anecdotal  evidence  is that  the  premium is  higher  due to  the                                                              
perceived increased risk.                                                                                                       
CHAIR HUGHES  asked if the  federal "drive act"  requires stricter                                                              
training for younger drivers.                                                                                                   
MR. THOMPSON  replied it  targets entry-level drivers,  regardless                                                              
of  age. He  cited the  example of  someone who  retires from  the                                                              
corporate world  and decides to  become a commercial  driver. They                                                              
would be considered  an entry-level driver. He  related that about                                                              
30   years   ago,   Congress   told   the   U.S.   Department   of                                                              
Transportation  to develop entry  level training requirements  and                                                              
they're moving  in that  direction. ATA  supports the  "drive act"                                                              
and wants  well-trained drivers  who are  mature enough  to safely                                                              
handle the  responsibility of a  $200,000 rig, congested  traffic,                                                              
and  erratic  drivers.  He  highlighted  that 75  percent  of  all                                                              
commercial  vehicle involved  accidents  are caused  by the  other                                                              
vehicle. He  offered his expectation  that if federal  laws change                                                              
the State  of Alaska  would adopt  similar regulations  for entry-                                                              
level drivers.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR HUGHES  asked if he agrees  that if the federal  "drive act"                                                              
passes,  there would  be  stricter  training requirements  at  the                                                              
state level.                                                                                                                    
MR.  THOMPSON  replied  that's  a  fair  assumption.  The  driving                                                              
schools in  Alaska would  adjust their  training programs  to meet                                                              
any new federal requirements.                                                                                                   
2:00:01 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  commented that he doesn't look  at driver safety                                                              
from  the  perspective  that  the  driver  is  responsible  for  a                                                              
$250,000  truck;  rather  the driver  is  responsible  for  safely                                                              
driving an 80,000  pound truck. He offered his  assumption that an                                                              
18-year-old  would start driving  for a  smaller company  and work                                                              
his or  her way up  as he  or she gained  experience. He  asked if                                                              
there  would  be adequate  employment  opportunities  for  younger                                                              
drivers at the smaller companies.                                                                                               
MR. THOMPSON replied he believes so.                                                                                            
2:00:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   KIEHL   requested   clarification   on   the   insurance                                                              
requirements  for  truck driving  companies.  "Are  we looking  at                                                              
changing  the nature  of  the pool  here  for  all companies  that                                                              
employ CDL holders?"                                                                                                            
MR.  THOMPSON  offered  his belief  that  each  insurance  company                                                              
either  sets  minimum  qualifications  or  looks  at  the  driving                                                              
record of  each driver. He said  CDL drivers are required  to give                                                              
their employer a  copy of their driving record each  year and he's                                                              
reasonably  certain  the  carrier  shares  that  information  with                                                              
their   insurance  company.   If   nothing  else,   he  said,   it                                                              
demonstrates that their drivers haven't had any incidents.                                                                      
SENATOR  WILSON highlighted  the  fiscal note  analysis that  says                                                              
that  of the  [31,267] class  A, B,  and C  CDLs in  Alaska as  of                                                              
1/1/2018,  just 33  were issued  to  applicants under  age 21.  He                                                              
asked,  should this  legislation  pass,  if it  would  be used  to                                                              
aggressively  recruit  younger  drivers for  the  Alaska  Trucking                                                              
MR.  THOMPSON explained  that  the immediate  impact  of the  bill                                                              
would be to lower  the age of eligibility to apply  for a CDS from                                                              
19  years to  18 years.  This would  bring  Alaska into  alignment                                                              
with most  other state  laws for  intrastate  CDLs. The bill  also                                                              
sets  the  stage for  the  potential  change  in federal  law.  He                                                              
acknowledged  that the  bill  may stimulate  recruitment  efforts,                                                              
depending  on the  level of  economic  activity in  the state.  He                                                              
offered  his perspective  that  SB  75 would  give  young men  and                                                              
women an opportunity for a truck driving job or career.                                                                         
2:04:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  thanked Mr.  Thompson for  sharing his knowledge  on                                                              
the subject. She asked Josh Norum to provide his testimony.                                                                     
2:04:30 PM                                                                                                                    
JOSH   NORUM,    incoming   Vice   President,    Alaska   Trucking                                                              
Association,  stated that he  is also  the director of  operations                                                              
at Sourdough  Express. He  said this  is an Alaska-based,  family-                                                              
owned trucking company  that's been in business for  more than 120                                                              
years.  He  noted  that  Mr.  Thompson   discussed  the  technical                                                              
reasons to support  SB 75 and he would talk about  his experience.                                                              
He stated  that  when he  got his  CDL at  age 19,  he drove  on a                                                              
restricted  license for  two years.  He could  not haul  household                                                              
goods  that  either  came  from outside  Alaska  or  were  leaving                                                              
MR. NORUM explained  that many of the Sourdough  Express employees                                                              
who are younger  than age 21 see  no benefit in getting  their CDL                                                              
because  it won't benefit  the company  in their  current  job. By                                                              
the  time many  of  these young  employees  reach  age 21  they've                                                              
moved  on  to do  something  else.  He  opined  that SB  75  would                                                              
address this issue  by making it possible for the  company to move                                                              
these young  people from  a labor position  to a driver  position,                                                              
potentially  retaining  their  interest   in  a  trucking  job  or                                                              
career.  The  state  would  benefit  from  a  wider  driver  pool,                                                              
particularly  if   anticipated  projects  become  a   reality.  He                                                              
described the  bill as  a way to  pressure the federal  government                                                              
to change its rules  on the age when someone is  eligible to apply                                                              
for intrastate  and interstate  CDLs and  an opportunity  to align                                                              
Alaska  law with  other  states  in this  regard.  He offered  his                                                              
belief  that most  companies are  very safety  conscious and  will                                                              
continue to  vet and train their  drivers carefully. SB  75 should                                                              
not impact the public at all, he said.                                                                                          
CHAIR HUGHES  asked if  there is a  commercial driver  shortage in                                                              
MR. NORUM said yes.                                                                                                             
CHAIR  HUGHES asked  if ATA  has  had positive  feedback from  the                                                              
federal delegation regarding the "drive act."                                                                                   
MR. NORUM deferred the question to Mr. Thomson.                                                                                 
MR. THOMPSON  advised that  ATA has discussed  the issue  with the                                                              
delegation  for some time.  While they  are supportive,  they want                                                              
to ensure  that drivers  are properly prepared  and trained  to do                                                              
the job safely.                                                                                                                 
2:08:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES  thanked  the  testifiers.   She  found  no  further                                                              
discussion and stated she would hold SB 75 in committee.                                                                        

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
STRA Agenda 3.19.19.pdf STRA 3/19/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB75 Sponsor Statement.pdf STRA 3/19/2019 1:30:00 PM
STRA 3/28/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 75
SB75 Bill Text Version A.PDF STRA 3/19/2019 1:30:00 PM
STRA 3/28/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 75
SB75 Fiscal Note - DMV.pdf STRA 3/19/2019 1:30:00 PM
STRA 3/28/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 75
SB75 Letter of Support_Local 302.pdf STRA 3/19/2019 1:30:00 PM
STRA 3/28/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 75
SB75 Letter of Support_NIT.pdf STRA 3/19/2019 1:30:00 PM
STRA 3/28/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 75
SB75 Letter of Support_Carlile.pdf STRA 3/19/2019 1:30:00 PM
STRA 3/28/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 75
SB75 Additional Materials_Federal Statute.pdf STRA 3/19/2019 1:30:00 PM
STRA 3/28/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 75