Understanding Trucking Regulations: Part 4 – What You Can Do About Proposed Regulations?

In this four-part series, ICSA explains the basics of trucking regulations that impact its members – where they come from, what all those acronyms mean, who decides their cost, and what you can do about proposed regulations. Along the way, ICSA will provide some working definitions… but you can always turn to the Glossary of Terms under the Resources tab of the ICSA website.

By Warren Hoemann, ICSA Contributor & Industry Expert

Imagine the gall! During the FDR Administration, Harry Hopkins, head of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the agency given tons of dollars to help bring the Nation out of the Depression, stood in front of Congress and refused to explain how he allocated federal funds.

Congress responded by passing the Administrative Procedure Act in 1946. The APA provided uniform procedures for all federal agencies in the adoption of regulations and the adjudication of disputes. The APA also laid the foundation for judicial review of agency decisions (and, not surprisingly, review by Congress itself).

What does legislation passed 77 years ago have to do with responding to regulatory proposals today? Everything. Among its other provisions, the APA requires publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register. That NPRM must contain “(1) the time, place, and nature of public rulemaking proceedings; (2) reference to the legal authority under which the rule is proposed; and (3) either the terms or substance of the proposed rule or a description of the subjects and issues involved.” Once the agency gives notice that a regulation is being considered, the APA says that the public must have ample opportunity to submit comments.

That’s true of NPRMs, an actual proposed regulation, but also of ANPRMs when the agency is just testing ideas, SNPRMs, when a rulemaking is reopened, and even ICRs, where the agency seeks to require new data. (You remember reading about these acronyms in Part Two of this series!) Anytime a regulatory agency, be it FMCSA, NHTSA or any other federal bureaucracy, wants to impose a new rule, you have the legal right to submit comments, and, by law, the agency must read and consider your comments. Thanks, APA!

Comments can make a real difference in proposed regulations, especially when comments come packed with facts and data. But you are running a business. Who has time to follow federal rulemakings, read all those notices, and then write comments? You do... through your membership in ICSA. ICSA will do all the heavy lifting, all the technical reading and writing. All you need to do is respond to ICSA surveys and data requests. ICSA will file comments on your behalf and fellow ICSA members.

What can you do about proposed regulations? Belong to ICSA!

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