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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Fiscal 2018 Funding Bill

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved their fiscal 2018 transportation appropriations measure. Like the House bill, the Senate bill funds the CMV-related grants at the full FAST levels for fiscal 2018, which for most is an increase over fiscal 2017 levels. Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill contains only a few policy riders.

Program   Fiscal 2017 Fiscal 2018
MCSAP Formula $292.6 million $298.9 million
High Priority $  42.2 million $  43.1 million
CDL $  31.2 million $  31.8 million
CMV Operators $       1 million $       1 million

 

In addition to setting funding levels, the bill contains two size and weight exemptions:

  • ND Weight Exemption– The bill adds North Dakota to Idaho’s current 129,000 lb. exemption.
  • NH Weight Exemption – The bill includes language clarifying that truck-tractor and dump trailer combinations equipped with 6 axles or more with a gross weight of up to 99,000 pounds are permitted to operate on certain portions of interstate, if the distances between the extreme axles, excluding the steering axle, is 28 feet or more.

Finally, the Committee Report, which expresses the committee’s intent and provides additional direction to FMCSA, contains a number of additional provisions:

  • Bus Lease and Interchange Rule– The report directs FMCSA resolve outstanding issues by modifying or removing the proposed rule prior to October 1, 2017.
  • Speed Limiters – The report directs FMCSA and NHTSA to move ahead with the speed limiter rule and address all public comments in the final rule. The final rule should also address the impact of creating speed differentials on highways and consider the costs and benefits of applying the rule to existing heavy vehicles that are equipped with speed limiting devices.
  • HighRisk Carriers – The report praises FMCSA for making progress on high-risk carrier inspections and requests that the agency report back to the House and Senate on the topic.
  • Natural Gas Vehicles – The report directs the Department of Transportation to develop new safety regulations and inspection procedures for liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel tanks and fuel systems on commercial motor vehicles, and revise and harmonize requirements for compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinders that address the inspection of such cylinders.