RE: Nelson/Roberts Bill S1288

Dear

The Nelson/Roberts Bill S1288 was introduced on June 28, 2011.

This bill is to exempt certain class A CDL drivers from the requirement to obtain a hazardous material endorsement while operating a service vehicle with a fuel tank containing 3,785 liters (1,000 gallons) or less of diesel fuel.

This was primarily written to help the custom harvesting industry service their harvesting equipment in a more efficient and timely manner. If passed, it would eliminate the following points, which are detrimental to the industry:

  • Custom harvesters hire foreign labor who are not allowed to apply for the HM endorsement.
  • Creates multiple trips from the service fuel station to the equipment. Each piece of harvesting equipment holds 250 gallons or more of diesel fuel. This exposes the public to the process of fuel delivery more often throughout the day and more downtime for the harvester. The longer the harvesting equipment sits idle, the longer it takes for the American farmer to get their crops out of the field and into the bin.
  • The length of time to obtain the HM endorsement can sometimes takes up to 90 days. The custom harvester cannot afford to have employees hired for this duration prior to the harvest season due to the fact there is no income coming in. Typically, workers are hired no more than a week or two prior to the harvesters first job.
  • It forces the owner of the business to be behind the wheel of the service truck (which includes the fuel tank or bulk package) because he has the HM endorsement, rather than hauling the equipment which has a greater value to the business. When the service vehicle is traveling from farm to farm or state to state, the fuel tank is empty with only a trace of diesel left.
  • If the owner of the business is the only holder of the HM endorsement, he/she will not be able to be in the field supervising their employees. Most of the time, the owner has the most experience with the daily inspecting and servicing of equipment and will be the one to identify a problem before the day is started. If he/she isn’t present, the harvesting process is delayed.

Besides eliminating the points that are detrimental to our industry, a change to the current rules would increase safety:

  • Will substantially reduce the amount of time the American public is exposed to our service vehicles while driving from the service station to our equipment. Currently, we’re making multiple trips to haul the fuel to our harvesting equipment.
  • Currently, we have the ability to haul up to 1,000 gallons with the Restricted Class B CDL. This license allows a 16 year old with a good driving record and no skills testing to drive a vehicle hauling a tank up to 1,000 gallons. The new law would require a Class A driver in the seat of that vehicle who has been through the required skills testing and driving.
  • The current rule allows our industry to legally haul 118 gallons in a tank that requires no placarding. The new law would require the tank to be identified with “diesel fuel” placards on all sides of the tank.

I am asking for your support of S1288 today by becoming a cosponsor. Your help with this issue is appreciated and desperately needed by the custom harvesting industry.

Sincerely,