A bill allowing companies to use private instructors and examiners to quickly train and fill open positions that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is headed to the Governor’s desk.
Senate Bill 411, authored by Sen. Brian Crain and Rep. Jon Echols, would reduce the burden on the state’s CDL examiners by creating a pilot program that would allow private companies to hire their own CDL instructors and examiners. If the governor signs the bill into law, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) would create a curriculum for private examiners that would mirror the same standards DPS uses for its own examiners. Companies opting to enter the program would then pay a fee, as would those applying to become examiners for the private companies. Provisions of the bill would also require DPS to conduct background checks on all examiner applicants.
“This bill will generate real jobs for all of Oklahoma within months,” said Crain, R-Tulsa. “By cutting unnecessary red tape and providing for adequate training of CDL operators, it is a substantial win for both businesses and workers.”
The legislation was created in response to lengthy wait times for those pursuing their CDL license. With a shortage of more than 200,000 truck drivers nationally, the industry would benefit from private CDL training to expedite the licensing process for growing companies seeking drivers.
“This pilot program would be a great boost to the state as well as the workforce,” said Echols, R-Oklahoma City. “It offers great potential to help small businesses recruit new workers and retain skilled workers, as well as grow their enterprises.”
Legislators also had support from several transportation industry leaders who recognize the benefits of using private CDL instructors and examiners.
“The length of time it takes to get an employee through the CDL process is restricting growth, so it’s a big issue for Oklahoma businesses,” said Mike Jackson, State Chamber Senior Vice-President of Public Affairs and Advocacy. “This is a big step forward towards a solution to cut through the red tape and lawmakers should be commended for allowing it to happen.”
Many Oklahoma companies support the provisions of a private CDL program, indicating it will provide the flexibility to grow as quickly as their business demands.
“We look forward to a productive partnership with the Department of Public Safety in helping us get qualified drivers trained and on the road,” said Brett Robinson, President of Beer Distributors of Oklahoma.
Other organizational leaders see the CDL pilot program as a unique growth opportunity for Oklahoma’s workforce.
“The Oklahoma Beverage Association (a non-alcoholic beverage association) would hire approximately 200 people tomorrow if we could,” said James McSpadden, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Beverage Association. “We believe that SB411 will give us that opportunity to put Oklahomans to work. We thank Senator Crain and Representative Echols for all of their work on this landmark legislation.”