On May 13, 2020, in response to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) advocacy efforts, Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John Thune (R-SD), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced S. 3729, the Motor Carrier Safety Grant Relief Act of 2020.
The bill extends the periods of performance for the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) formula funding, High Priority Grant and Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation Grant for funding awarded in fiscal 2019 and 2020, giving states additional time to spend grant funding from those years. Additionally, the legislation would give the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) the authority to reallocate any unspent grant funds at the end of the period of performance for fiscal 2019 and 2020, keeping critical safety funds within MCSAP.
The bill was approved by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on May 20, 2020, and will likely need to be included in a larger COVID-19 relief package to pass the full Senate. If passed, the bill would provide much needed relief to the state agencies responsible for enforcing commercial motor vehicle safety regulations.
CVSA has been advocating for relief for these commercial motor vehicle safety programs to provide states and territories with needed flexibility as a result of the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. The Alliance applauds Senators Wicker, Cantwell, Thune, Fischer and Duckworth, as well as the Commerce Committee, for their support of this legislation and urges passage by the full Senate.
“Many jurisdictions experienced a temporary reduction in commercial motor vehicle safety enforcement activities due to health safety concerns and reallocated resources and personnel in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis of the Delaware State Police. “As the states and territories begin to resume their usual inspection and enforcement priorities, they must have funding to continue the important work of removing unsafe drivers, vehicles and motor carriers from our roadways. On behalf of CVSA and its committed law enforcement membership, I’d like to thank the senators for their leadership in working together to introduce this crucial legislation.”
MCSAP provides financial assistance to help states and territories reduce the number and severity of crashes and hazardous material incidents involving commercial motor vehicles. The High Priority Grant program provides financial assistance to carry out high-priority activities and projects that augment motor carrier safety activities, advance technological capabilities and promote the deployment of intelligent transportation system applications for commercial motor vehicle operations. And the Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation Grant provides financial assistance to states to achieve compliance with the requirements of 49 CFR Parts 383 and 384 by ensuring only qualified drivers are eligible to receive and retain a commercial driver’s license.