TSA approves 90-day HME exemption

TSA has announced that they have approved an extension of the HME Exemption that allowed states to issue an extension of up to 180 days for HMEs expiring between March 1, 2020 – July 31, 2020. The 90-day extension makes the new exemption period for HMEs that would otherwise expire between March 1, 2020 – October 29, 2020.

Members may be interested in this Frequently Asked Questions page from TSA that was published as part of the initial HME exemption.

Per an announcement from TSA earlier this year, if a state grants an extension, the individual with an expired HME must initiate the process of renewing his or her STA for an HME no later than 60 days before the end of the State-granted extension.

Drivers operating on an extended (expired) HME should not wait to begin the renewal process if they don’t have to. CT DMV has produced a helpful document regarding the HME renewal process.

Fed sees dim economic outlook as virus squeezes economy

From Associated Press via Transport Topics.

The Federal Reserve expressed concern July 29 that the viral outbreak will act as a drag on the economy and hiring in the coming months and said it plans to keep its benchmark short-term interest rate pegged near zero.

In a statement at the end of its policymaking meeting July 29, the Fed acknowledged that the economy has rebounded from the depths of March and April, when nearly all states closed down nonessential businesses. But it said the ongoing coronavirus pandemic “will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment and inflation.”

The Fed announced no new policies in its statement. It said it also will continue to buy about $120 billion in Treasury and mortgage bonds each month, which are intended to inject cash into financial markets and spur borrowing and spending.

See the complete article from the Associated Press via Transport Topics online.

Connecticut Resources

Connecticut’s coffers have swelled — not shrunk — during COVID

From CT Mirror.

State government’s coffers have swelled by hundreds of millions of dollars since the coronavirus struck in mid-March, despite warnings of a nearly $1 billion deficit just three months ago.

Connecticut’s rainy day fund, which stood at $2.5 billion when the pandemic struck, now approaches $2.8 billion, according to an ongoing review of thousands of state tax returns filed after July 15.

And while the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis still expects Connecticut to exhaust most reserves over the next 11 months, they now project the state will maintain a modest, $250 million cushion one year from now.

That’s a far cry from two months ago, when Gov. Ned Lamont warned Connecticut might be broke by mid-2021 and potentially saddled with $500 million in operating debt. The governor hoped to avoid this debt by seeking concessions from labor unions, who declined, noting they provided givebacks in 2009, 2011 and 2017.

How has state government gotten richer since the pandemic began?

See the complete article from CT Mirror online.

Lamont issues order creating limited COVID-19 Workers’ Comp presumption

Governor Ned Lamont has issued an Executive Order creating a limited COVID-19 workers’ compensation presumption for essential employees. The presumption applies to essential employees who missed a day or more of work between the dates of March 10, 2020 and May 20, 2020, and the following conditions were met:

  1. such employee worked, at the direction of the employer, outside the home during at least one of the fourteen days immediately preceding the date of injury, and had not received an offer or directive from said employer to work from home instead of from his or her place of employment;
  2. if the date of injury was more than fourteen days after March 23, 2020, such employee was employed by an employer deemed essential by the Department of Economic and Community Development pursuant to Executive Order 7H;
  3. the contraction of COVID-19 by such employee was confirmed by a positive laboratory diagnostic test within three weeks of the date of injury or diagnosed and documented within three weeks of the date of injury by a licensed physician, licensed physician’s assistant, or licensed advanced practice registered nurse, based on the employee’s symptoms; and
  4.  a copy of the positive laboratory diagnostic test results or the written diagnosis required by subdivision (iii) of this subsection shall be provided to the employer or insurer

Executive Order 7H instructed the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to define which businesses are essential, which they did by publishing these definitions. Note that “commercial trucking” is listed under the “infrastructure” sector as one of 16 Critical Infrastructure Sectors defined by the federal Department of Homeland Security, which DECD referenced in their definitions.

Lamont to order COVID workers’ compensation coverage

From CT Mirror.

Gov. Ned Lamont surprised lawmakers and lobbyists by announcing Friday afternoon he will sign an executive order creating a presumption that essential workers who contracted COVID-19 during the earliest days of the pandemic are eligible for workers’ compensation.

“Connecticut owes a debt to the health care professionals, grocery store clerks, and other essential workers who stood at their posts during the darkest days of this pandemic,” Lamont said in a statement. “We can pay a part of that debt by providing workers who contracted COVID-19 on the job during those days with a timely, straightforward opportunity to claim any benefits they are due through the workers’ compensation system.”

He did not define what period will be covered, but it likely will comport with a deal that Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, was trying to strike. It would have covered the period from mid-March to May 20, when Lamont ordered a shut down of schools and many businesses.

See the complete article from CT Mirror online.

FMCSA extends modified emergency declaration

From FMCSA.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hereby declares that the continuing national emergency warrants the extension of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002. This extension continues the exemption granted from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for the fifty States and the District of Columbia as set forth below. This notice extends the exemption through August 14, 2020, subject to the restrictions and limitations set forth in this Extension.

The extension of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19 and is limited to transportation of (1) livestock and livestock feed; (2) medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; and (3) supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants. Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration. In its modification of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 effective June 15, 2020, FMCSA concluded that there was no longer a need for emergency relief with respect to the other categories of supplies, equipment, and persons covered by the May 13 extension and expansion of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002, and modified the Emergency Declaration to remove those categories. This extension continues the relief granted in Emergency Declaration 2020-002 as modified on June 15, 2020.

The full declaration is available on the FMCSA website.

Renewing extended credentials

The COVID-19 pandemic has led state and federal government agencies to issue extensions of expiring credentials, many of which are still in effect. MTAC respectfully urges members to not wait until the end of any applicable extension to act on renewing credentials. If your business and/or your employees are currently operating on expired credentials, and have the ability to begin the renewal process now, you should do so. Outlined below are some examples of extended credentials that may currently apply to your business or your employees.

Medical Cards
FMCSA recently announced an extension of their medical card waiver until September 30, 2020. MTAC urges members who are still able, to have a physical completed by a Certified Medical Examiner (CME). Drivers should not let their medical cards expire solely because of this waiver. This waiver is meant for drivers who are truly unable to get an appointment with a CME. Members can use this FMCSA website to search for CMEs in Connecticut who are qualified to perform the physical examinations. Additionally, once the driver has obtained medical certification, the medical cards (short form) must be submitted to Connecticut DMV using this website.

Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDLs)
CDLs are covered under CT DMV’s extensions which hold that credentials that expire between March 10, 2020 and June 30, 2020 were extended by 180-days, and credentials that expire between July 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020 are extended by 90-days. CDL renewals are being done by appointment only. MTAC understands that appointments are filling up very quickly, thus a good reason to not wait. You can make an appointment using this website.

Registration Renewals
Registration renewals are covered under CT DMV’s extensions which hold that credentials that expire between March 10, 2020 and June 30, 2020 were extended by 180-days, and credentials that expire between July 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020 are extended by 90-days. Members are advised to not wait until the end of any applicable extension to begin the renewal process. This CT DMV website does a good job of explaining the IRP renewal process.

Hazardous Material Endorsement (HME)
In early April, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) granted an exemption that permitted state licensing agencies to grant up to a 180 day extension on a Hazardous Material Endorsement (HME) security threat assessment for drivers whose HMEs expired on March 1, 2020 or later within 180 days of the notice’s publication. This basically means that some drivers may have received an extension of their HME. Drivers operating on an extended (expired) HME should not wait to begin the renewal process. CT DMV has produced a helpful document regarding the HME renewal process.

Members are encouraged to regularly check the DMV website (and its sub-pages) for updates, as well as this State of Connecticut website for general updates related to COVID-19.

19 states subject to Connecticut, New York, or New Jersey travel quarantine advisory

From NBC Connecticut.

Travelers from a total of nineteen states — an increase of three — are now subject to a self-quarantine upon arriving in Connecticut, the state announced on its travel advisory website Tuesday.

The states involved are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Sixteen states were under the advisory last week. Delaware, Kansas and Oklahoma are new additions to the list as of Tuesday.

See the complete story from NBC Connecticut online.

Note from MTAC: Essential workers, which includes trucking industry employees, are exempt from this order. More information on that is available here.

DMV issues another extension of expiring credentials

Connecticut DMV has announced another provision regarding the extension of expiring credentials. The new provision says that credentials that expire between July 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020 are automatically extended by 90-days. This is in addition to the provision which said credentials that expired between March 10, 2020 and June 30, 2020 are extended by 180-days.

In addition to extending the expiration date of DMV credentials, late fees associated with eligible expired credentials will be waived during the time period of the extension for qualifying credentials.

See a copy of this announcement online.

For an announcement with information that is more specific to expiring (and renewing) CDLs, click here.

Connecticut, New York, New Jersey – Expanded quarantine advisories

From CNN via Hartford Business Journal.

Governors in the northeast, once considered the US epicenter of the coronavirus, are tightening restrictions in their states for travelers from areas of the country now seeing upward trends in positive coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Ahead of the July Fourth weekend, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey on Tuesday expanded travel advisories requiring people arriving from eight additional southern and midwestern states to quarantine for 14 days.

As of Tuesday, the Democratic governors from the tri-state area are requiring self-quarantine for travelers from: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. The requirement was first announced for eight states last week.

See the complete article from CNN via the HBJ online.

Note from MTAC: Essential workers, which includes trucking industry employees, are exempt from this order.