PA House Transportation Committee Moves House Resolution 152

Last week the PA House Transportation Committee moved legislation that aims to mitigate the nationwide school bus driver shortage.
On November 10th, the House Transportation Committee moved House Resolution 152.  This resolution is essentially petitioning the US Dept. of Transportation for a waiver of the ‘under the hood' requirement for school bus drivers.  It is also asking the US Dept. of Transportation to investigate the development of a commercial driver's license specific to school bus drivers. Click here to read HR 152 Summary. 

Representative Rosemary Brown, the bill's primary sponsor, emphasized the school bus driver shortage and expressed hope that the federal government might help remove some of the barriers of entry to this career path by waiving some of the requirements.  She highlighted the critical role school bus drivers play in getting students safely to school every day. 

Representatives Austin Davis and John Lawrence both vocalized their support of the resolution, noting their districts' difficulties in securing school bus drivers. 
Meredith Biggica, the House Transportation Committee's Executive Director, commented that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters were against the bill believing that it goes against their stance on increasing licensing and training for ‘passenger transportation' operators. 

Minority Chairman Carroll was quick to point out that he interpreted the Teamsters dissention a bit differently.  He believes the Teamsters opposition to a waiver for ‘passenger transportation' was meant to reference Port Authority bus drivers rather than school bus drivers.  

Ahead of this meeting, PASBO's Advocacy Manager, Megan Smith, sent a letter of support for this Resolution to all the members of the House Transportation Committee.  Both the Resolution's primary author, Rep. Rosemary Brown, and the House Transportation Committee Chairman, Rep. Tim Hennessey, both referenced PASBO's support of the Resolution.  The letter read as follows:

 TO:                       Members of the House Transportation Committee
FROM:                  PA Association of School Business Officials
DATE:                   November 9, 2021
SUBJECT:            PASBO Supports HR 152
The PA Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) strongly supports House Resolution 152, which petitions the United States Department of Transportation for a waiver of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulation requiring under-the-hood training under section 383.11 for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to address the school bus driver shortage.
We would encourage the Committee to also consider the following amendments or enhancements to the Resolution:
  • Implementing this waiver indefinitely vs. just for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year as the recovery from this shortage will extend beyond this current school year
  • Implementing a school bus driver specific CDL that could result in greater bus driver retention
PASBO members have observed that a number of their school bus drivers are leaving the school districts to go and work for private trucking and transportation companies among others.  School bus drivers can take their CDL licenses to the private sector and make significantly more money.  This resolution and the potential amendments noted above will help to reduce the exodus of school bus drivers to other industries. 

While the pandemic and the current supply chain crisis have certainly magnified the issue, the situation is dire and on pace to be much worse as we look toward Spring.  For the safety and sake of our children, it's critical that we answer the PA school districts calls for help.

PASBO supports House Resolution 152 and applauds any of the General Assembly's efforts to mitigate the effects of the nationwide school bus driver shortage. 
Please reach out to us if you have questions or if you'd like our members to testify at any upcoming hearings on this or related issues.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The House Resolution 152 was approved almost unanimously, with only two ‘no's'.
Given that this resolution touches national transportation standards, our PA legislators will need to lobby the federal government for this change to be approved and implemented.  PASBO will offer to partner with our PA legislators to advocate for this critical Resolution at the federal level.