Proposed Bill Would ‘Create a Truck Lease Task Force’

Lease Purchase

A proposed highway bill would create a task force to examine lease and lease-purchase agreements.

Lease purchase programs have long been called “fleece purchase” programs, as the programs don’t have the best reputation the trucking industry. While there are many reputable lease programs out there, there are still some predatory lease programs that give all the rest a bad name.

In addition to the programs themselves, lease purchase drivers are often classified as independent contractors. In many states 1099 employment statuses are no longer legal. The Department of Labor has been cracking down on companies who misclassify employees as independent contractors.

In 2019, California passed a law requiring employers to treat independent contractors as employees — they must be offered similar wages and benefits as employees. Other states are eyeing the same laws.

According to Title IV of the Invest in America Act, if passed, funding would be allocated to creating a “task force” to study lease purchase programs.

At this time, it is unclear whether or not the task force will target the programs themselves or who trucking companies classify lease purchase programs but if passed, the lease purchase landscape may look different in the future.

In addition to creating a lease purchase task force, the Investing in America Act addresses a variety of topics within the trucking industry such as trailer undercarriages, detention times and more.

The Investing in America Act, Title IV states:

Title IV – Motor Carrier Safety Grants

Authorizes significantly higher funding levels for the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, HighPriority grants, and Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation grants to assist States intruck and bus safety oversight and enforcement activities, commercial driver licensing, and technology improvements to support those efforts.

Extends the grant period of performance to ensure funds do not lapse and allows the Secretary to redistribute unobligated funds.

Compliance, Safety, Accountability

• Directs the Secretary to complete the revisions required by the FAST Act to its carrier oversight and intervention model, to prioritize reinstating the public display of safety data, and to finalize a safety fitness determination rule to rate the safety of carriers.

Commercial Motor Vehicles

  • Directs the Secretary to complete a rulemaking to require Automatic Emergency Braking systems in newly-manufactured commercial motor vehicles.
  • Directs the Secretary to strengthen rear underride guard standards in newly-manufactured trailers and semi-trailers, to further research and consider the feasibility, benefits, and costs associated with installing side underride guards, and creates an Advisory Committee on Underride Protection.

School Buses

  • Requires the Secretary to conduct a comprehensive review of efforts to prevent illegal passing of school buses, issue recommendations, and create a public safety messaging campaign.
  • Directs the Secretary to review the costs and benefits of requiring lap/shoulder belts in large school buses and consider requiring them in newly manufactured buses.
  • Requires newly manufactured school buses to be equipped with automatic emergency braking and electronic stability control systems.
  • Directs the Secretary to conduct research and testing of fire prevention and mitigation standards for large school buses and consider issuing updated standards if they are needed.

Driver Safety

  • Requires the Secretary to report on delays with implementation of entry-level driver training.
  • Applies commercial driver licensing requirements to vehicles carrying 9-15 passengers.
  • Creates a Truck Leasing Task Force to examine lease and lease-purchase agreements commonly madeavailable to truck drivers and the impacts of these captive leases on driver pay.
  • Requires the Secretary to collect and use data on driver detention to determine the link betweendetention and safety outcomes.
  • Requires the Secretary to evaluate the impacts of exemptions before finalizing changes to hours ofservice rules and establishes stronger reporting requirements for carriers utilizing exemptions.

The bill has recently been under fire for an added amendment that would raise mandatory insurance coverage from $750,000 to $2,000,000.

The legislation is dubbed the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act and is a proposed infrastructure bill that would invest $500 billion into the nation’s highways and transportation systems over the next five years.

The standalone bill had the support of the trucking industry; however, a new provision added to the bill called the Garcia Amendment 62 could be detrimental to the trucking industry.

If the INVEST in America bill passes with the Garcia Amendment 62, minimum insurance for commercial motor vehicles would increase to $2 million — up from $750,000.

The INVEST Act still needs to pass in the House and Senate before the amendment could go into effect.