What exactly was the Modern, Clean and Safe Trucks Act of 2019?
The Modern, Clean and Safe Trucks Act of 2019 was a set of nearly identical bills recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
The central issue the bill addressed was the 12 percent federal retail excise tax on new heavy trucks, tractors and trailers. The sponsored argument was that, coupled with new regulatory mandates, this tax could significantly increase the cost of new heavy-duty trucks, tractors and trailers, discouraging the replacement of older, less environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient vehicles.
The impact this bill would’ve had on trucking
Excise tax puts an immense burden on fleet operators, especially small and mid-sized companies with fewer resources and less capital.
What are the “other purposes” the bill mentioned?
The consensus was that “other purposes” referred to an issue directly connected to the excise tax on commercial trucks – the Highway Trust Fund. This fund was established in 1956 to finance our interstate highway system but has since been divided into the Highway Account. The Highway Account supports road construction and other surface transportation projects, with the Mass Transit Account supporting mass transit projects.
The Highway Trust Fund is where revenues collected from the federal excise tax go. It’s also the recipient of revenues generated by the federal fuel tax. Solvency has long been a problem plaguing the Highway Trust Fund. Since excise tax receipts are tied to annual heavy-duty truck sales and nationwide fuel consumption, the amount generated for the fund can vary greatly year-by-year, creating an inherent instability for this vital fund.
In 2008, 2009 and 2010, a total of $34.5 billion was transferred to the Highway Trust Fund from the federal government’s general fund to make up for revenue shortfalls. In addition to helping expand the number of newer, safer trucks on the road, the Modern, Clean and Safe Trucks Act of 2019 was seen as setting the table for a needed reform of the way the government funds infrastructure in the United States.
An ongoing attempt in 2020
The prospect of eliminating $20,000 or more of taxes on the purchase of a new truck is enticing but it’s important to understand a couple of important elements to these pieces of legislation.
This wasn’t this bill’s first time proposed. The same bipartisan sponsors seen in 2018 and 2019 submitted the bill where it unceremoniously died in committee. This doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for this legislation. It does show, as an industry, we need to come together to help make it a priority issue for lawmakers.
Why SambaSafety will continue to work toward this initiative
In addition to providing the trucking industry with dynamic solutions for driver risk management, SambaSafety is committed to advancing the overall safety of drivers and communities. We closely follow proposed bills that could impact the industry and meet with congressional leaders directly involved in crafting trucking legislation and regulations. We look forward to continuing these efforts in 2020.