Tester Provisions to Improve Infrastructure, Cut Red Tape for Montanans in Transportation, Agriculture, and Rail Industries Clear Commerce Committee Hurdle

Critical infrastructure bill now includes Senator’s HAULS Act to ensure ag and livestock haulers have the flexibility they need to safely deliver their products to market

As part of his ongoing work to keep Montanans connected to boost the economy, several commonsense provisions championed by U.S. Senator Jon Tester to cut red tape and improve infrastructure in the transportation industry cleared the Senate Commerce Committee this week, including a critical portion of Tester’s Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act that will give ag and livestock haulers the flexibility in hours they need to safely deliver their products to market.

Tester successfully attached the provisions to improve safety at railway crossings, expand access to passenger rail travel, and create jobs while easing burdensome regulations for truckers and livestock haulers to the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021.

“Montana is a big state, and folks here depend on reliable transportation to stay connected and do business,” Tester said. “But right now burdensome regulations make it harder for workers in the transportation sector to do their jobs, which is why I am pushing these bipartisan provisions to cut unnecessary red tape, create more good-paying transportation jobs, and make it easier and safer to travel across Big Sky Country.”

Tester’s provisions in the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021 include:

  • A portion of the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2021 – Cuts burdensome hours of service (HOS) requirements that can prevent ag and livestock haulers from doing their jobs safely, and gives them the flexibility to ensure more of Montana’s world-class products can make it to market.
  • DRIVE Safe Act – Creates a pilot program that lifts federal regulations that prevent Montana truck drivers under 21 years of age from transporting goods across state lines and establishes a new training initiative for 18 to 20-year-old truck drivers.
  • Right Track Act & Blocked Railroad Crossing Bill – Improves safety at rural train crossings and addresses instances of blocked highway-railroad crossings across the U.S.
  • $15 million to study Amtrak-long distance passenger rail travel – Provides funding for groups working to increase access to long-distance passenger rail travel like the Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Working Group.

Tester is Montana’s only member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over interstate common carriers, including railroads. Tester’s bipartisan HAULS Act modifies the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 by updating the ag and livestock HOS exemptions by providing a 150 air mile HOS exemption to the destination of an ag or livestock hauler’s haul to account for the additional time needed to safely navigate rural and minimally maintained roads.

Tester introduced his bipartisan Right Track Act following a series of accidents at train crossings across Montana last year, including a fatal crash in Mainville in May 2020, to bolster train safety in Eastern Montana and other rural communities.

In Montana, 65 percent of communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods and approximately one out of every 17 jobs are associated with the trucking industry.