Capitol Hill Update from State Representative David Byrd

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On November 22, 2021 Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 93 “Operation Open Road” to address supply chain issues during the Holiday Season. Lee joined 14 other states in this initiative acting in curbing the crisis.

As all are aware, manufactured goods from overseas are held up in our coastal ports causing supply shortages across the country, creating commercial burdens and empty retail shelves that helps us function our daily lives especially locally. While we continue to recover from the covid pandemic, we also are faced with an economy unable to grow caused by government regulation. Additionally, with inflation being in double digits and the highest since 1981, families are paying more for food, gas, and fundamental goods & services only adding to our current situation. In effect, higher prices hurt trucking and shipping industries that disrupts getting those goods to market. The delay in vessels getting to port from overseas went from 14 hours in June 2020 to almost 2 weeks in September 2021. Retail chains are receiving half of what they ordered compared to fulfilling during pre-pandemic times.

As the nation also continues to fully recover from the pandemic, Governor Lees order suspends certain state regulations on the trucking industry to ensure small businesses and local consumers across the state have what they need during this holiday season. In Tennessee, Lee’s order directs:

•Directing the Department of Safety and Homeland Security to identify deregulation opportunities affecting the trucking industry and commercial drivers in Tennessee.

•Directing the Department of Safety and Homeland Security to collaborate with other entities, including the Department of Military, Department of Correction, Department of Labor, Tennessee Board of Regents, Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology and private businesses, to increase CDL training and certification opportunities.

•Encouraging third parties to expand the types of CDL applicants and licensees who can participate in training and testing programs.

Operation Open Road governors have committed to using their authority where possible to: 

•Modify weight, size or load restrictions to allow more cargo to move more efficiently; adjust hours of service constraints to provide truck drivers more time and flexibility.

•Deregulate education and occupational licensure barriers to get more commercial truck drivers on the road. 

•Convene state agencies in transportation, commerce, workforce and other related fields to coordinate with private industry, local governments and neighboring states to ensure greater efficiency, connectivity and data sharing among shippers and receivers at ports, distribution points, storage facilities and other intrastate corridors for the expedited loading, unloading and transport of freight. 

•Coastal port states commit to increase tonnage capacity and accept more Panamax ships waiting off the west coast.

Under the Open Road initiative, Lee along with other Governors called on Biden Administration to suspend federal regulations that include CDL requirement be lowered from 21 years of age to 18, suspending the federal covid mandate for vaccines on private employees, review federal policies that deter essential transportation equipment, intermodal containers, chassis, automobiles, trucks and trailers, halting spending that raises taxes and grows inflation.

In addressing this issue, we are strengthening the supply chain across the state and for the district.

As always, I am truly humbled and honored to be your voice on Capitol Hill. If there is ever any issue I can assist with, please reach out to my office by calling 615-741-2190 or emailing me at rep.david.byrd@capitol.tn.gov.