California’s bid to toughen its trucking regulation is facing more roadblocks. A state judge says the state’s new “gig-economy” law raising the bar for use of independent contractors doesn’t apply to truck drivers, the WSJ Logistics Report’s Jennifer Smith writes, ruling that the federal oversight built around interstate commerce preempts California’s law. The ruling in a lawsuit involving port trucking operations joins another case in federal court that takes aim at the law known as AB-5. Both legal challenges have a long way to go, and the city of Los Angeles already says it will appeal the state court ruling. But Superior Court Judge William Highberger lays out detailed legal history in a ruling that state restrictions on business ties between contractor-drivers and trucking companies amount to prohibited economic regulation. Those arguments will get another airing next week as a separate case moves through federal court.

The Trump administration is moving to speed up construction of highways and other infrastructure by streamlining environmental rules. The proposed regulatory overhaul faces a steep climb to enactment, the WSJ’s Timothy Puko reports, with environmental groups promise to fight a plan that one official calls a “gift to the fossil-fuel industry.” Business groups and construction unions counter that the effort will rein back a bureaucratic review process that can leave big projects in limbo for a decade or longer. The American Association of Port Authorities says it now takes three years to review plans to deepen shipping channels. The White House has its eyes on bigger projects, including bridges, highways and pipelines that are a backbone of energy networks. Cutting permit delays is a priority with a long history of bipartisan support, but battle lines will be drawn over the fine details of how the overhaul works.

Sales results from the holiday season show the U.S. retail sector running on two very different tracks. J.C. Penney Co., Kohl’s Corp. and Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands Inc. all reported lower sales in the critical months of November and December, the WSJ’s Suzanne Kapner reports, as Americans shifted their purchases online and to other retailers. Analysts say consumers clearly moved their shopping to Inc. and retail rivals such as T.J. Maxx and Target Corp. The winners in the bid for sales look to be those that have undertaken aggressive efforts to meet changing consumer buying patterns, including so-called omni-channel strategies that blend physical stores with e-commerce fulfillment. Walmart Inc. and Target have reported rising sales and store traffic as they have ramped up online ordering and in-store pickup services. But same-store sales at J.C. Penney fell 7.5% in the nine weeks ending Jan. 4.

“ The record before the Court in this case confirms the common-sense conclusion that AB 5 would have a substantial impact on trucking prices, routes, and services. ”

Growth from October to November in the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Freight Transportation Services index of U.S. freight shipments.

U.S. officials believe Iran shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet with two surface-to-air missiles shortly after the plane took off from Tehran. (WSJ)

U.S. crude futures edged down to their lowest level in four weeks on signs of cooling tensions between the U.S. and Iran. (WSJ)

British lawmakers overwhelmingly backed the Brexit agreement Prime Minister Boris Johnson has negotiated with the European Union. (WSJ)

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced new oversight standards for autonomous vehicles largely focused on self-regulation. (New York Times)

Daimler AG ’s bus manufacturing unit plans to start producing spare parts through 3D printing technology. (Automotive Logistics)

On-time delivery measures for FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. slipped slightly from a year ago but remained strong in the shortened holiday season. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection named nine companies it will work to streamline clearance for cross-border e-commerce shipments. (American Shipper)

Commodities trader Cargill Inc. says its ocean transport unit is benefiting from its “readiness” for new sulfur emissions restrictions. (Lloyd’s List)

Pricing specialists expect airfreight contract rates to reach the lowest levels in four years in 2020. (Lloyd’s Loading List)

Truckload carrier Werner Enterprises Inc. will test use of an electric semi-truck on a dedicated route in Southern California. (Lincoln Journal-Star)

Software company Trimble is acquiring transportation management systems provider Kuebix. (Logistics Management)

Paul Page is editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report team: @PaulPage, @jensmithWSJ and @CostasParis. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.

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