FRA Issue Update - 7/19/19

DOL Proposes to Include Forestry Employers in H-2A Visa Program

On July 16, the Department of Labor (DOL) posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to solicit public comment on proposed changes to the H-2A guestworker visa program. In the notice, DOL recognizes that the forestry sector is the second largest user of the H-2B program and likely has not received enough visas to meet the demand for non-immigrant workers because of the cap. As such, included in the 489-page NPRM is a recommendation that would expand access to the uncapped H-2A program by revising the definition of agricultural labor or services to include employers engaged in reforestation activities.

Specifically, the NPRM defines reforestation activities as:

Predominantly manual forestry operations associated with developing, maintaining, or protecting forested areas, including, but not limited to, planting tree seedlings in specified patterns using manual tools; and felling, pruning, pre-commercial thinning, and removing trees and brush from forested areas. Reforestation activities may include some forest fire prevention or suppression duties, such as constructing fire breaks or performing prescribed burning tasks, when such duties are in connection with and incidental to other reforestation activities. Reforestation activities do not include vegetation management activities in and around utility, highway, railroad, or other rights-of-way.

The Department is posting a copy of the NPRM in advance of its publication in the Federal Register. A copy of the NPRM can be found by clicking here. FRA will be reviewing the NPRM and develop comments to share with our members.

FRA/ALC Letter Urges Congressional Members to Cosponsor Safe Routes Act

FRA, along with the American Loggers Council (ALC) has prepared a letter that requests Members of Congress to cosponsor the Safe Routes Act (H.R. 2453, S.1509). To date, the letter has been signed by nearly 60 forestry associations. The letter will be sent to the Hill early next week.

Who in Congress is Cosponsoring FRA Policy Initiatives

Safe Routes Act of 2019

House

Senate

DRIVE Safe Act of 2019

House

Senate

Future Logging Careers Act

House

Senate

FMCSA Extends Comment Period on Proposed Pilot Program for Young Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extended the comment period for a possible pilot program to allow non-military drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce from July 15, 2019 to August 14, 2019. It’s important that the FMCSA receives comments supporting this proposal. FRA encourages our members to submit comments on this proposed program that addresses the driver shortage the U.S. is currently facing. FRA’s comment letter can be found here. Please feel free to use as a template for your own letter. Comments can be sent to the below address or submitted via www.regulations.gov. Enter the docket number FMCSA-2018-0346 to go to the FMCSA public comment page.

Docket Management Facility
U.S. Dept. of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave SE
West Building Ground Floor
Room W12-140
Washington, DC 20590-0001