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Freedom Fridays

July 21, 2017 – California's anti-trucking regulations need to hit the road

Highlighting burdensome and unconstitutional California regulations on our trucking industry.

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Defending F4A Preemption in the Trucking Industry

Over twenty years ago, as Congress was considering legislation to scale back the patchwork of burdensome state regulations in the domestic airline industry, many Representatives agreed that the domestic trucking industry was due for regulatory relief as well. As a result, a provision was included in the 1994 Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act ("F4A") creating uniform federal standards for the trucking industry, similar to those in the airline industry. This change alleviated much of the burden on motor carriers to comply with the disparate standards in every state. Based on Congress' authority under Article I Section 8 of the Constitution to regulate interstate commerce, the F4A provision prohibits states from enforcing any law "related to" a motor carrier's "price, route, or service…with respect to the transportation of property." In short, federal law overrules the authority of state motor carrier laws—or, to use the legal terminology, it "preempts" it.

Why is this a problem?

Not surprisingly, the preemption provision was challenged in 2014 in California, where state law requires far more stringent meal and rest break standards—commonly referred to as "hours-of-service" regulations—than those established pursuant to F4A .The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over California and eight other states, including Arizona, made a ludicrously narrow determination in Dilts v. Penske Logistics that because California's meal and rest rules do not pertain directly to the "price, route, or service" clause of federal law, they are not preempted. Unfortunately, although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in similar cases that the "related to" language in F4A has "broad pre-emptive purpose," it declined to hear an appeal of the Dilts case, leaving the Ninth Circuit's ruling to stand. Truckers from Arizona and elsewhere will continue to be forced to conform their operations to California's overly-stringent trucking regulations every time they cross the state line.

How can we solve this problem?

While I am a strong proponent of states' rights, there are a handful of issues over which Congress has clear constitutional authority. In the coming weeks, I will be supporting legislation offered by Representative Jeff Denham (R-CA) that further clarifies the right of the federal government to set uniform standards for truckers across the country. We simply cannot allow our vital interstate commerce to fall victim to an incoherent patchwork of burdensome regulations: our economic and national security depend on resisting this ominous trend.

What are they saying?

"California's regulatory overreach is hurting the Arizona trucking industry and the customers who depend on our services. We must have uniform national standards, and I commend Congressman Biggs and his colleagues in the House of Representatives for highlighting this issue and hope that their efforts at reform will be successful." – Dave Berry, Vice President, Swift Transportation Corporation

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