FRA Issue Update - 6/12/20

Forestry Associations Urge President Trump to Exclude Forestry Workers from Immigration Ban

This week, FRA led an effort with allied associations and sent a letter to the Administration that urged the President to exclude H-2B non-immigrant labor that performs essential forestry work such as tree planting, herbicide application, seed collection, nursery work, fuel reduction and fire suppression, from pending Presidential Proclamations or Orders restricting entry to the United States. The letter had the support of 40 national, regional, and state forestry associations. The President is expected to decide on what types of foreign labor to temporarily ban (90-180 days) entry to the U.S. in the coming days.

House Transportation Bill

Last week, the House introduced their surface transportation proposal (INVEST in America Act). The proposal would spend $494 billion over five years. Of this amount, $319 billion would go towards highways, $105 billion for transit, $10 billion for vehicle safety, and $60 billion for rail. The main themes of the 864-page bill are state of good repair, safety, and climate change. Relative to trucking, the bill would derail the just-finalized rule by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to institute changes to hours of service regulations by halting the regulations from taking effect until DOT can undertake months of studies and reviews. The House is planning a mark-up of the legislation on June 17. A summary of the legislation can be found here. The FRA supported Safe Routes Act language was not included in the bill’s text. The FRA policy team is assessing other opportunities to advance the Safe Routes Legislation.

Senate Advances the Great American Outdoors Act

The Senate on Wednesday voted to adopt the motion to proceed to fund the Great American Outdoors Act that would provide permanent funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Funding of the LWCF would be used to address maintenance backlogs on the nation’s public lands, provide protections to public lands and water resources, and support voluntary conservation of private lands. It is not clear when the Senate will vote on the legislation.

Court Denies Mandatory COVID-19 Safety Rules

On Thursday, a federal court of appeals denied the AFL-CIO request that would require OSHA to temporarily implement mandatory COVID-19 safety rules. The Court ruled that OSHA has reasonably determined that issuing mandatory rules was not required at this time. Throughout the pandemic, OSHA has issued a number of industry-specific guidance documents to protect worker safety.

FMCSA Extends Hours of Service (HOS) Emergency with Modifications

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has modified and extended the duration of the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration until July 14, 2020. The original declaration was set to expire on Sunday, June 14. The emergency declaration  now only provides relief to commercial motor vehicle operations that transport livestock and livestock feed, medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, and supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants. The announcement can be found here

If you have any questions, please contact FRA’s Director, Government Affairs Tim O’Hara, (218) 390-7965, [email protected] or FRA President Deb Hawkinson, (202) 296-3937, [email protected].