2021 MTA Legislative Priorities
Reduce Liability Exposure for Trucking Fleets
Premiums for truck fleet liability insurance are increasing at unsustainable, double-digit rates. These increases are being driven by “nuclear verdicts,” multi-million- dollar jury awards that seek out those with the deepest pockets and are not proportional to the injury. Reforming Minnesota’s tort system, such as allowing the admissibility of seat belt use evidence, reducing statute of limitations, capping post-judgement interest, capping compensatory damages, and limiting attorney fees are ways to help reign in unreasonable awards and reduce fleet liability insurance premiums. Reducing fleet insurance premiums will be a key factor in fleet survival and growth. Due to their essential designation, trucking fleets also need protection from new liability exposure created by COVID-19.
Oppose New State Mandates
In these times of recovery, where small business fleets are on the verge of closing their doors and the shortage of truck drivers is increasing, predictability is critical for trucking success and sustainability. Government has unreasonably extended its reach dramatically, adding new protocols and costs. Attempts to advance new employer mandates regarding compensation, paid time off, and employment models would be devastating to companies struggling to keep their doors open. Also, advancing equipment emission standards requiring significant capital investment would be futile for trucking in this environment. It is critical that the legislature increase predictability by reducing barriers and costs to business operation rather than increasing them and by protecting the freedom of drivers to choose independence or employment under the existing seven factor test.
Support State Initiatives for Truck Driver and Technician Training
By the end of 2018, the trucking industry was short 60,000 drivers, with a potential shortfall of 100,000 in the next five years. Across Minnesota at the end of 2019, there were 3543 truck driver vacancies and 334 technician vacancies and this shortage will only get worse. The Minnesota Trucking Association supports state initiatives for truck driver and technician training to fill the workforce gaps leading to great paying trucking jobs in Minnesota.
Retain General Fund Dollars Dedicated to Transportation Funding
The transportation system remains the lifeblood of Minnesota’s economy. Projected shortfalls in the Highway User Distribution Fund reinforce the need to retain the general fund dollars that have been legislatively dedicated to transportation. The Minnesota Trucking Association supports retaining general fund dollars and fuel tax funds dedicated to transportation. The Minnesota Trucking Association opposes tolls or vehicle mileage traveled taxes, and fuel taxes remain the most effective user charge.
Support Efforts to Reduce Impaired Driving
It is critical for highway safety that trucking companies can continue to enforce zero tolerance policies and perform drug testing without penalty. The National Institutes of Health reports marijuana use significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination and reaction time. Studies have found drivers with THC in their blood are twice as likely to cause a fatal accident as drivers who have not used drugs or alcohol. A 2018 Highway Loss Data Institute study found that the legalization of retail sales of marijuana was associated with a 6.0 percent increase in collision claim frequency. There is no enforceable national impairment standard for marijuana. Legalizing recreational marijuana will reduce highway safety and shrink our available driver pool in the midst of an on-going truck driver shortage.