Senators Reintroduce Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act

The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act has been reintroduced by a bipartisan group of Senators and could provide some fixes to hours of service requirements for livestock haulers. ( Wyatt Bechtel )

After not being able to move through hours of service reform for livestock haulers in the previous session of Congress, a group of Senators has brought forward legislation that might address concerns with the transportation rules.

The bipartisan Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act (TLAAS) was brought forward again by co-sponsors Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Jon Tester (D-MT) on May 1. Sasse was the lead on TLAAS during the 115th Congress during 2017-18 and that bill had 10 original co-sponsors, 23 co-sponsors by the end of the session. The first version of TLAAS never made it out of committee after being referred to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on May 23, 2018.

The latest version of TLAAS is co-sponsored by 17 other Senators including: Deb Fischer (R-NE), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jim Risch (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Doug Jones (D-AL), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Mike Braun (R-IN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and James Lankford (R-OK).

“Overly strict regulations are hurting our ranchers and our haulers. My legislation pushes back against those dumb regulations and works to promote safe transportation,” Sasse says. “This is good, reasonable, common-sense, bipartisan legislation — and it should pass so we can give Nebraskans the flexibility they need to keep livestock safe and to keep our state running and feeding the world.”

The summary of S. 1255 in the 116th Congress, also known as TLAAS, is as follows:

  • Provides that HOS and ELD requirements are inapplicable until after a driver travels more than 300-air miles from their source. Drive time for HOS purposes does not start until after 300-air mile threshold. 
  • Exempts loading and unloading times from the HOS calculation of driving time.
  • Extends the HOS on-duty time maximum hour requirement from 11 hours to a minimum of 15 hours and a maximum of 18 hours of on-duty time.
  • Grants flexibility for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting against HOS time.
  • Allows drivers to complete their trip – regardless of HOS requirements – if they come within 150-air miles of their delivery point.
  • Ensures that, after the driver completes their delivery and the truck is unloaded, the driver will take a break for a period that is 5 hours less than the maximum on-duty time (10 hours if a 15-hour drive time).

“Ranchers and livestock haulers face unique circumstances when hauling live animals, and the rules should reflect that,” Tester says. “This bill gives them the flexibility they need to safely transport their product and get it to market in time while protecting both the animals and their bottom line.”

A version of TLAAS was also reintroduced in the House of Representatives on Jan. 10 by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), who is a veterinarian. The House TLAAS bill now has 34 co-sponsors and was referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit on Feb. 7.

Agricultural Support for TLAAS

The bill has the support of groups representing agriculture including Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Cattlemen, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, and the Livestock Marketing Association. Here is what some of these associations are saying about the legislative proposals:

  • “We greatly appreciate the work of Senators Tester and Sasse in bringing forth a prescriptive solution for livestock haulers that gives them the flexibility needed to get their live cargo to its destination as safely and efficiently as possible. This bill will not only allow drivers to take a rest break when it is needed, not when it is required, it will also increase the safety and welfare of the animals,” says United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Hilker. “USCA has led on this issue from the beginning and we will see it through to its end. We look forward to broad bipartisan support of this legislation that will allow for swift passage into law.”
  • “The current Hours of Service rules for livestock haulers present major challenges for our industry and can often jeopardize the health and well-being of livestock,” says Colin Woodall, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s senior vice president of government affairs. “Hauling livestock is inherently different than hauling typical consumer goods, like paper towels or bottles of water. Live cattle cannot simply be left unattended in a trailer – especially in very hot or cold weather – for extended periods of time. This bill recognizes the unique needs of livestock haulers, and we are grateful for the continued support of Senator Sasse and the other co-sponsors.”
  • “Nebraska plays an integral role in the beef production chain, with a vast amount of livestock shipped in and out of our state daily,” says Nebraska Cattlemen President Mike Drinnin. “One size fits all federal regulations endanger the health and welfare of livestock by failing to account for the intricacies involved with hauling live animals. This legislation provides needed flexibility for livestock haulers while continuing to maintain the safety of our roads.”
  • “On behalf of the Nebraska Farm Bureau I want to thank Sen. Ben Sasse for his work in introducing the ‘Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act,’” says Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson. “Livestock production is a major contributor to Nebraska’s local and state economies. The ability to transport livestock in timely and safe manners plays a major role in the success of Nebraska’s livestock sector. Sen. Sasse’s bill is a step in the right direction to fixing regulations that fail to provide the flexibility needed to address the unique needs that exist in the transport of livestock.”

Other ELD and Hours of Service Fixes

This bill is just the latest in a series of legislative proposals that have been made during the past few years. Here is a list of articles referring to other ELD and hours of service solutions: