Moving more Mainers back to work

By Rep. Bruce Poliquin,     

     Maine is home to the best loggers and truckers in the Country. Unfortunately, the logging and trucking workforce is declining due to obsolete regulations that are prohibiting our young Mainers from choosing this career path.

     That’s why I introduced the  Securing America’s Next Generation of Safe Loggers and Truckers Act. My bill will remove outdated regulations that are hindering the logging and trucking workforce. Our young Mainers should be given every opportunity to explore a career as a logger or trucker in their formative years and this legislation will ensure it for future generations.

     Even though 47 states and the District of Columbia issue commercial driver’s licenses to 18-years-olds, the federal government prohibits these drivers from crossing state lines until they reach 21.  This barrier makes trucking companies, particularly in small states, hesitant to hire and train workers under the age of 21. By the time individuals reach that age, they have often found another career.

     My bill, the Securing America’s Next Generation of Safe Loggers and Truckers Act, allows contiguous states to enter into contracts to recognize each other’s commercial driver’s licenses held by drivers under the age of 21.

      Additionally, much like farming, logging companies are typically small, family-run businesses. Parents cannot pass their family business onto their children because strict regulations prohibit them from even teaching their teenagers how the machinery works.

     Labor regulations were written when chain saws were still used to harvest trees, and prohibit anyone under the age of 18 to operate logging equipment. New technology, including protective cages, has made this industry safer.

     My legislation will bring these regulations up to the speed with technology, by safely allowing family-owned logging businesses to train their children in their family’s business, much the way our farmers already do.

     Many of our young Mainers are not interested in pursuing traditional education. They want to get involved in the family business or are ready to enter the workforce so they can help their family cover costs and stay in Maine instead of being forced to move because of lack of opportunity.

     The Securing America’s Next Generation of Safe Loggers and Truckers Act will help our young Mainers learn more about the logging and trucking industry, in a safe environment, while preparing them as they enter the workforce.

     Maine has many industries, such as logging and trucking, paper mills and farms, which have helped foster our traditions and special way of life. As Maine’s Second Congressional District Representative, I will continue to fight to protect and grow our industries to help get more Mainers back to work and create a better business climate.