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The Legislative Process

S.3624 Military Commercial Driver’s License Act of 2012
The above legislation was introduced on September 21, 2012, passed by the senate the following day and the House of Representatives on28th of the same month. The legislature passed both stages without any amendment and objection. The bill became a Public Law, No: 112-196 on October 19, 2012 after being signed by the President, Barrack Obama. The bill revised part of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) section with which the states hindered individuals from acquiring CDLs in others states rather than their home state. This legislation was aimed at allowing states to issue CDLs to military servicemen and women operating or willing to operate commercial heavy vehicles regardless of their states of residence. However, the recommendation for qualification required one to be an active duty member of the armed force like the National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, and Armed Forces Reserves amongst others (Truckinginfo.com, para, 3).
Sponsors and Cosponsors of the bill
The bill was sponsored by Senator Snowe, Olympia J. and cosponsored by other ten Senators. These are:
Sen. Begich, Mark
Sen. Brown, Scott P.
Sen. Brown, Sherrod
Sen. Inhofe, James M.
Sen. Isakson, Johnny
Sen. Klobuchar, Amy
Sen. Moran, Jerry
Sen. Murray, Patty
Sen. Rockefeller, John D., IV
Sen. Rubio, Marco
In addition to this, the legislation passed unanimously through both the Senate and House of Representatives without any objection and amendment. Moreover, even the president accented to the bill without objection.
Apart from the Senate and House of Representatives, other associations provided support to this legislation. These include America’s Trucking Association, Military Officers, Legion, and Independent Drivers.
Strengths of the legislation
The CDL law would eliminate some of the obstacles hindering veteran drivers from acquiring commercial driving licenses.
Under the previous law, the commercial driving licenses were only available to individuals who were the legal residents of the state. The military personnel were the major victims of this law since majority of them received their driving training away from their home states such as in their stations of duty. This law posed a challenge for them in obtaining the commercial driving license before leaving the military. Adoption of the new CDL law provided a platform upon which states could issue the CDLs to veterans posted in other states rather than their own home states. In accordance to Sen. Snowe, the sponsor of the bill, it was unbearable to see many veterans more so those who were returning from Afghanistan and Iraq unable to secure CDLs and enter into civilian profession of which they had world class experience.
The legislation would reduce the unemployment rate for the veteran drivers and at the same time lower the shortage of drivers in the trucking industry (Dick, p. 109).
The veteran drivers needed employment and the trucking industry required drivers as well. An estimate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 13 per cent growth rate in employment for heavy truck drivers for duration of ten years, from 2008 to 2018. However, with passing of the CDLs law the growth rate is expected to rise tremendously. As of October 9, 2012, the shortage of truck drivers ranged between 20, 000 and 30, 000 nationally with regards to American Trucking Association quarterly report.
Weaknesses of the legislation
The CDL as well as Department of Transportation have set strict driving requirements and qualification standards which limit most applicants. The trucking industry has been struggling with these issues and introduction of CDLs will only make things worsen over time. In this respect, the law is only favoring one side, military service. This is attributed to the fact that veterans leave their job with a lot of experience in driving and maintenance of heavy vehicles as well. Additionally, the medical requirements for CDLs as set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are also strict thus lock out majority of drivers. For example, one is not supposed to be color blind, to have any impairment and hearing or vision capacity is required to good enough. This is a disadvantage to the military veterans would have obtained either of the impairments during their service regardless of the experience.
Another blow to the CDL law is the high costs of acquiring the CDLs. Majority of the veterans plus some of the companies lack the required amount of capital to acquire the CDL and train drivers respectively. The cost of a CDL is estimated to be about $46, 000 for new truck drivers. This is creating more shortages of heavy vehicles drivers since even the operating experienced drivers without CDLs have to quit their jobs or otherwise acquire the CDL. In regards to the companies, only a few of them are training and acquiring CDLs for their employees.
District concerns of the legislation
This legislation was of primary concern to many congressional district states. Majority of the constituents of congressional districts such as Maryland, Tennessee, Minnesota and so forth supported the legislation.
Fundraising opportunities for the legislation
This legislation is highly supported thus have various sources of funding for its implementation. First and foremost, the Department responsible for veterans Affairs (VA) would be in the forefront to fund this legislation. This is attributed to the fact that the department is committed to improving the lives of veterans through the Veterans supportive service program. On the hand, the legislation stronghold would focus on funding veterans to acquire CDLs and relevant training.
Committee assignments
The committee or subcommittee involved in this legislation was the Transportation and Infrastructure committee. The activities of this committee in the legislation were referral and discharging of the legislation. The committee played a crucial role in ensuring the legislation progressed beyond the committee stage.
Based on the above information regarding the legislation, several recommendations can be reached.
Implementation of CDL would require to be facilitated similarly and appropriately in all the states. This is in respect to the following; qualification/requirements, cost, training, coverage and employment.
Relative to qualification/requirements, standards set for this legislation should be revised to incorporate the applicants equally in all states. Some of the states have differing qualification standards for CDLs, for example, Minnesota and Tennessee. This would diminish the goal for this legislation if ignored.
Next, the costs of acquiring the CDLs especially for new drivers should be revised. As mentioned above, high costs of CDLs eliminate potential veteran drivers.
Training of drivers operating or aspiring to operate commercial vehicles should be enhanced in order to overcome drivers’ shortage on the basis of experience.
The CDL legislation requires to be expanded to include other civilians apart from the military servicemen and women alone. Although its major target was the veteran military personnel, this will incorporate other interested individuals.

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