Deregulate to Stimulate: 15 Republican Governors Launch ‘Operation Open Roads’ to Unsnarl Supply Chains

Some cheery holiday news reported in the Epoch Times:

Fifteen Republican governors, led by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, have launched “Operation Open Road,” an initiative that seeks to ease the U.S. supply chain crunch through a range of state and federal measures, including calling on the Biden administration to remove “burdensome” regulations on the trucking industry and to suspend President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for private employers.

Governor Lee’s press release, his executive order directing Tennessee state agencies to alleviate the shortage of commercial truck drivers by identifying and eliminating “barriers to entry” and “overregulation,” and the 15 governors’ joint statement launching the initiative, are all well worth reading.

Here are some key excerpts from Operation Open Roads joint statement:

As we approach the holiday season, our states are committed to ensuring the free and fast flow of commerce. Americans enjoy a high quality of life, and as government officials, our job is to not only maintain the standard of living for our citizens but to improve it.

Higher gas prices and energy costs not only hurt American families, but they also hurt our trucking and shipping industries, making it harder to stock store shelves. Disruptions due to supply shortages increased 638% during the first half of 2021 for essential products, including semiconductor chips, plastics, and cardboard. The delay of shipping vessels arriving to North American ports from Asia has ballooned from 14 hours in June 2020 to 13 days in September 2021. Supermarkets are receiving 40% of what they order compared to pre-pandemic fulfillments of 90%.

With 7.4 million people unemployed and 10.4 million job openings, we have a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers, an all-time high for the trucking industry.

Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that a small adjustment, such as 12 minutes of additional road time per day, would significantly address industry strain and improve outcomes for a short-staffed industry. If we can get government out of the way, our trucking industry can safely do what it does best: move. Our state economies are on the rise, and Operation Open Roads will help reinforce America’s economic comeback.

Therefore, as governors, we commit to using our authority where allowable to modify weight, size, or load restrictions to allow more cargo to move more efficiently; adjust hours of service constraints to provide truck drivers more time and flexibility; deregulate education and occupational licensure barriers to get more commercial truck drivers on the road and convene state agencies in transportation, commerce, workforce, and other related fields to coordinate with private industry, local governments, and neighboring states where appropriate to ensure greater efficiency, connectivity, and data sharing among shippers and receivers at ports, distribution points, storage facilities, and other intrastate corridors for the expedited loading, unloading, and transport of freight.

Further, we call on the Biden Administration to suspend outdated federal regulations that unnecessarily require commercial driver’s license holders to be 21 years old and lower the age to 18 years old so that well-trained, working adults can work across state borders. In addition, we call on President Biden to suspend the burdensome federal mandate for COVID-19 vaccines for all private employees, specifically for the trucking and transportation industry so that driver shortages are not further exacerbated by an additional barrier to employment.

Finally, we call on President Biden to halt attempts to raise taxes, spend trillions more in taxpayer dollars, and grow the debt, all of which will cripple the American economy and spur inflation causing sky high consumer prices for American families.

Opinion