FRA continues to work with the H-2B Coalition to increase the availability of H-2B visas. On January 23, in an effort led by Senator Tillis (R-NC) and Representative Harris (R-MD), a letter was delivered to House and Senate leadership requesting that any agreement ending the partial federal government shutdown include a legislative solution to the H-2B guestworker visa program. This letter was signed by 127 Congressional Members and boasts bipartisan support.
FRA staff participated in the DRIVE Safe Act Coalition meeting on January 24 held in the American Trucking Association Capitol Hill office. The DRIVE Safe Act Coalition represents interests that are supporting the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE) Safe Act (H.R. 5358, S. 3352), which was introduced in both the House and the Senate during the 115th Congress. The DRIVE Safe Act would create apprenticeships that train 18-21-year-olds to drive trucks on the interstate. Requirements of the proposed apprenticeship program include 400 training hours of which 240 hours must be drive time with an experienced driver. This legislation addresses the number one issue of the transportation industry, which is the shortage of qualified drivers. We anticipate a DRIVE Safe Bill to be introduced in the next few weeks and FRA will be working hard with our Senate and House champions to cosponsor the bill.
This week Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) introduced legislation that would amend the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003. H.R. 691 which provides for more proactive measures to improve forest health and productivity through treating federal forest lands affected by insect or disease by thinning and/or prescribed burn. The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture, chaired by Rep. Peterson (D-MN) and the House Committee on Natural Resource, chaired by Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ).