The federal government continues to extend its reach with regulations affecting transportation issues in local communities and the logistics operations of Hoosier businesses. New regulations drive up costs for taxpayers and small businesses. These regulations also add complications to everyday commutes and to the shipment of goods to the marketplace.
As the "Crossroads of America," many Hoosier businesses depend on the ability to quickly move goods from place to place. As a representative from the crossroads of America, U.S. Rep. Rokita knows the importance of common-sense transportation policy for businesses, local governments, and the Hoosier economy.
When it comes to success in the private sector, Hoosier values can go a long way. Providing top-notch, on-time customer service in the shipping and logistics industry seems like common sense, but that is precisely what makes Magnum Express and Magnum Logistics thrive in the industry.
Headquartered in Planfield, Indiana, Magnum Express has been in business since 1997. Magnum is responsible for over 80,000 shipments per year with an on-time delivery rate of 99.86%. However, recent regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration could significantly hamper Magnum's fleet.
On July 1, 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented a new trucker "Hours of Service" rule that provides an inflexible 34-hour rest period each week. The regulation took effect before the FMCSA completed its study to determine the benefit of such a regulation. The impact to the industry is $376 million annually, due to productivity loss and compliance costs.
"The change in the Hours of Service regulations has had a crippling effect on our business. It has resulted in an immediate 10% reduction in productivity by our truck drivers," said Jim Sharp, Founder and President of magnum Express and Magnum Logistics. "Imagine a manufacturer being told to cut production at his plant by 10% per year or a farmer being directed to reduce his yield by 10% without any offsetting reduction in costs or increases in pricing. This kind of arbitrary regulation would have a negative impact on any business."
To combat this damaging regulation, U.S. Rep Rokita teamed with members of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to co-author an amendment to the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill. The amendment would have prohibited the Department of Transportation from using federal funding to implement the Hours of Service regulation. Though the bill did not come to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Rokita has continued to lead on the issue, by authoring a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx. Signed by 50 additional Members of Congress, the bipartisan letter expresses concern over the necessity of such a damaging regulation.
Most recently, U.S. Rep. Rokita teamed up with Representatives Hanna and Rice as a co-sponsor of the TRUE Safety Act, which requires an assessment of the FMCSA study by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The TRUE Safety Act seeks to delay the rule until the Government Accountability Office can determine the effectiveness and veracity of the FMCSA study.
"Magnum is thankful to have a representative in Congress like Todd Rokita, who understands the adverse effect red tape can have on the bottom line of Hoosier businesses and acts to protect Hoosier entrepreneurs from frivolous and counterproductive regulation," said Sharp.
"The Department of Transportation's Hours of Service rules were implemented without even a complete study, and without regard for the devastating effect they will have on America's trucking industry. And it is not just the trucking industry that will suffer. America's economy moves by truck, and American consumers feel the impact of this unnecessary regulation in their pocketbooks," Rokita said.
As a commercially-rated private pilot, U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita knows first-hand just how important the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is to ensuring the safety of air travelers across the country. However, the FAA is not without its affinity for unnecessary red tape, which disproportionately entangles private pilots and general aviators.
As a member of the Congressional Pilot Caucus and the Congressional General Aviation Caucus, U.S. Rep. Rokita has been a voice for the 10,000-plus Hoosier aviators since his arrival in Washington. He has fought the Obama Administration's attempts to impose $100-per-flight user fees on private pilots. Rokita, along with colleagues in the General Aviation Caucus, expressed their extreme displeasure with the FAA for requiring the largest general aviation fly-in the United States -- in Oshkosh, Wisconsin -- to provide its own air traffic control.
In addition to these issues, U.S. Rep. Rokita addressed a long-standing concern of the general aviation community by offering legislation to exempt recreational, private pilots from a costly and time-consuming medial certification process. Rokita's General Aviation Pilot Protection Act places private pilots on the smae footing as the operators of other modes of transportation, affording pilots the same liberties regarding their suitability to fly.
Nationwide, tens of thousands of capable private pilots -- those who pay for fuel, maintenance, parts, and aircraft -- have left GA due to the costs and headaches they incur as a result of the unnecessary Third Class Medical Certificate. This bill will return tens of thousands of able-bodied pilots to GA and create the jobs associated with the manufacture and maintenance of thousands of new aircraft.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association lauded U.S. Rep Rokita's efforts in support of the general aviation community.
"We have waited far too long for the FAA to expand the third-class medical exemption to more pilots and more aircraft," said AOPA President Mark Baker. "Congressmen Rokita and Graves stepped forward to take decisive action in the best interests of general aviation when the FAA refused to act. We appreciate their outstanding leadership on this issue and look forward to seeing this bill move forward."
"I introduced legislation to eliminate the unnecessary costs and time for general aviators and private pilots required under these regulations. This bill would employ far more efficient, less costly, and less invasive means of ensuring safety by giving general aviators and private pilots the freedom and ability to assess their own fitness to fly," Rokita said.
During the 113th Congress, Hoosier aviators expressed their concern to U.S. Rep. Rokita regarding the red tape that surrounds Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs), which are utilized by the FAA to certify an aircraft modification from its original design. The STC approves both the modification itself and the manner in which the modification affects the original design.
Aviators that apply for STCs are subject to an incredible backlog of applications pending before the FAA. Once an application finally reaches the top of the stack, the applicant can expect a lengthly process with redundant paperwork and a shifting landscape of FAA approval standards due to the time lapse. Regulation by different Flight Standards District Offices and a revolving door of inspectors further complicates the process.
The backlog for getting an STC approved has had significant impact on the entire general aviation community. Hoosier businesses, such as Montgomery Aviation in Zionsville, Indiana, see the impacts of the FAA's red tape first-hand.
"Each region has its own Flight Standards District Office, each doing something a little bit different from the rest. The lack of standardization has been difficult on this industry for years," said Andi Montgomery, Owner and Vice President of Montgomery Aviation.
In order to steamline the process for the 10,000 Hoosier aviators that operate small aircraft, Representative Rokita was an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1848, the Small Airplane Revitalization Act. This legislation requires the FAA to create a regulatory climate that promotes small airplane safety by setting broad, outcome-driven objectives that will spur small plane innovation and technology adoption. The Small Airplane Revitalization Act will apply to privately-owned airplanes and serve as a model as Congress continues its oversight of the FAA regulatory regime.
Montgomery Aviation, which operates a FAA repair station as well as a small air-craft flight school, sees this as a potential boom for new pilots. "The Small Airplane Revitalization Act would benefit manufacturers and others who certify new planes. The result would be an increase in the number of aircraft using our facilities and easier access for new pilots," said Montgomery.
On July 16, 2013, the Small Airplane Revitalization Act passed the House of Representatives unanimously with a 411-0 vote. The legislation passed the Senate on October 4, 2013, and was signed into law by the President on November 27, 2013. For Rokita and aviators everywhere, this is another Red Tape Rollback Victory!
"As a pilot, I know the importance of the general aviation and small plane industry to the Hoosier economy. That is why I helped lead this pro-jobs legislation. Innovation and growth should not be slowed down by burdensome, and often trivial, regulations that have done nothing more than increase costs," said Rokita.
Among the onerous regulations arising from the Clean Air Act is a requirement that car dealers provide consumers a certification that their new car conforms to fuel emissions standards. U.S. Rep. Rokita is leading the fight against this regulation with H.R. 724, which will remove those requirements and reduce paperwork at the point of sale. This legislation passed the House in January and awaits action in the Senate.
As a member of the House General Aviation Caucus and the Congressional Pilot Caucus, U.S. Rep. Rokita continues to fight against the Obama Administration's attempts to impose per-flight user fees on general aviators.
Poorly considered regulations restricting hours of service often burden transportation companies. This can be particularly problematic if the hours are running even while waiting for goods to load and unload. In order to prevent the Department of Transportation from regulating truckers while their cargo is being loaded and unloaded, U.S. Rep. Rokita is fighting for H.R. 1097, the Preserving Jobs in the Oilfields Act, which exempts long idle times from hours of service.
The FAA announced in November its plans to require pilots to be screened and treated for obstructive sleep apnea before receiving a medical certificate while bypassing the formal rulemaking processes Congress put in place in the Administrative Procedure Act. The screening could affect nearly 125,000 pilots and cost them as much as $374 million. U.S. Rep Rokita helped lead legislation that would require any rule regarding sleep apnea restrictions for pilots to go through formal rulemaking procedures. This bill passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on December 4, 2013 and will proceed to the House floor. Yet another Red Tape Rollback Victory!