Members of the Ohio House Republican Caucus today held a press conference to discuss revised motor carrier safety regulations that are enforced by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), as well as legislation to alleviate the financial strain that these regulations have caused small businesses.

At the press conference, Assistant House Majority Whip Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) and State Representative Terry Boose (R-Norwalk) announced jointly sponsored legislation that would address the newly implemented PUCO rules that, when enforced, will impose additional strains on Ohio’s small businesses.

“As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to the people of Ohio to ensure that the government is not hindering job creation or economic development,” said Grossman. “I’ve had numerous conversations with business owners within the 23rd District who say that the new regulations are hindering their businesses’ expansion and success. This is an issue that must be addressed immediately.”

Initially intended to take effect on January 1, 2011, the PUCO extended motor carrier safety regulations to include private intrastate vehicles with a weight of less than 26,001 lbs. The PUCO implemented this rule change after it was discovered that Ohio was not in compliance with federal regulations, which would cause the PUCO to lose $6 to 7 million in federal funding that helps to finance the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program.

Included in the new regulations are rules that require drivers of these vehicles to maintain log books and medical certificates. Furthermore, these vehicles are now subject to inspection by the state of Ohio, and the operations of the companies that use these vehicles are also subject to review from the PUCO’s safety compliance auditors.

After legislative protests during the 128th General Assembly by members of the Republican caucus, the PUCO agreed to delay the enforcement of the rule until January 1, 2012 because of concerns that the public, legislators and businesses alike needed more time to better understand how the rule would work and who would be affected.

“The new regulations, which far overreach the federal guidelines, put an additional encumbrance on many of Ohio’s small businesses when they are least able to afford it,” Boose said. “I’m encouraged that the PUCO has delayed the implementation of the rule as it will provide us with an opportunity to ensure that Ohio does not lose any more jobs because of these regulations.”

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission, the federal government requires the state to enforce federal hazmat regulations on this vehicle class. The PUCO has synced Ohio’s rules with those federal requirements, but in doing so placed additional, not required safety regulations on vehicles of this weight that do not carry hazmat materials, enforcing significantly more regulation on vehicles in this class than required by the federal government.

Reps. Grossman and Boose’s legislation will match Ohio’s hazmat requirements to the federal standard and repeal the additional regulations that are not required by the federal government. They emphasize that this bill will help eliminate overly burdensome regulations and government red tape in order to make Ohio more attractive for business.

The bill will now be assigned to a House committee, where it will undergo additional consideration.


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