Donald Trump has been critical of the nation’s infrastructure, saying, “The infrastructure of our country is a laughing stock all over the world,” according to the candidate in an April 2015 video. “Our airports, our bridges, our roadways – they’re falling apart. It’s a terrible thing to see.” Well, now that he has been elected, he says one of his first priorities is to begin rebuilding our country’s crumbling infrastructure. And that, along with a few other things he plans to do, could be very good (or not) for trucking.
Fixing airports and roads is a must, according to Trump, who indicates the need for massive federal spending to shore up this key area. While Trump has been scathing about the condition of the nation’s infrastructure and the need for improvements, he has not specified any details yet. The President-elect’s awareness and concern about the infrastructure and his commitment to improving roadways could benefit the trucking industry. While Trump has been vocal about improving highways, bridges and pretty much all infrastructures, he has not indicated a need to shift commerce or freight to a rail-based model (like some other politicians).
In regards to energy, Trump recently rolled out an energy plan that focused on reduced regulation and on increased drilling for oil and gas. While these measures are designed to reduce dependence on foreign oil, an abundance of gas and oil would be beneficial to the trucking industry. In addition to halting new rules on the energy industry, Trump plans to roll back existing regulations as well, making it easier for businesses and consumers to function. He called some current regulations “outdated, unnecessary, and bad for workers” and stated that regulations deemed “contrary to the national interests” would be rolled back immediately. Fewer regulations and more abundant and affordable fuel would benefit the industry (and individual businesses) in a variety of ways.
On international trade, Trump talks tough – including calling out China and threatening to add punitive taxation to goods made in that country. This appeals to many, but it could lead to issues for those who truck goods to and from US ports. Under current law, the president would only be able to level taxes on specific goods. In addition to punitive taxing on imports, Trump has threatened to pull out of NAFTA entirely, or at least demand a relegation with Canada and Mexico. Trump’s tough talk and business acumen could benefit the industry as a whole, but those trucking to and from the ports could be harmed if Trump does end up taking a harsh stance on imports.
The bottom line: since Trump wishes to repair the roads without demanding a shift to rail travel for freight, this should be good for the trucking industry. Trump’s stance on fuel should lower costs, and his statements against further regulations could be beneficial to an already heavily-regulated industry. Since Trump has not made a clear statement on wages beyond mentioning that they should be raised, there is no way to determine how this would affect the trucking industry. Trump’s stance on trade could improve the quality of goods coming into the USA and strengthen business in general, but his aggressive stance could turn away some possible international trading partners. So, it’s too early to tell if it would have an impact on those trucking businesses that bring freight to and from the ports in the USA.
MARIJUANA USE LEGALIZED IN CALIFORNIA
As you all know by now, recreational marijuana is now legal in California – and that’s a game-changer for public health. Though 25 other states have already legalized weed for medicinal purposes and four for recreational purposes, the mere size and population of California puts its decision in a different league – and it could lead the way to figuring out policy around the drug. Some current projections at the time of this writing have Maine, Nevada and Massachusetts voting to legalize recreational marijuana, while Arizona voted against legalizing recreational pot.
Medical marijuana was also on the ballot for several states. Current projections have North Dakota, Montana, Arkansas and Florida all expected to approve medical marijuana. The trend is clear – 60% (or more) of Americans support legalizing weed, up from just 31% in 2000. California is the state with the largest economy and – now that it has legalized pot – the national weed industry has just tripled in size. In fact, California’s marijuana industry could be bigger than its famed wine business! The market for both recreational and medicinal marijuana is now projected to grow to $22 billion by 2020, up from $7 billion this year.
California now needs to deal with issues like how marijuana fits into the state economy and public policy surrounding stoned driving. This may also put a lot more pressure on the federal government to lift its ban of the drug. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has long classified cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, the most restrictive classification. This means it’s in the same category as heroin, and monitored very closely. Just this August, the DEA rejected an appeal to stop classifying cannabis as a Schedule I drug.
The new law would allow Californians who are 21 and older to possess, transport, buy and use up to an ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes and allow individuals to grow as many as six plants. The measure would also allow retail sales of marijuana and impose a 15% tax. Although the measure’s passage immediately allows adults to possess and grow marijuana, there may not be places to legally purchase it for some time. The measure only allows non-medical marijuana to be sold by state licensed businesses, and it gives the state until January 1, 2018 to begin issuing sales licenses for recreational retailers.
Here is what remains illegal. Smoking weed on the street or in a bar is not allowed – all public consumption is banned. For now, buying or selling recreational cannabis is still illegal. Licensed shops won’t open for another year, so those who don’t have a doctor’s recommendation and want to get cannabis legally need to wait until their homegrown supply is ready – or get an ounce or less for free from another adult.
Consuming pot in a vehicle or getting high and then driving are still not allowed. Drugged driving laws apply and, like alcohol, it’s not legal to have an open container of pot in a vehicle. Going to work high is illegal, and employers can still enforce their own company policy, including firing workers who test positive for marijuana. Last but not least, if you fall under DOT regulations, marijuana is still a Class I drug and its use is still banned.