MTAC members earn insurance dividends for second consecutive year

Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC) qualifying members are set to receive $138,377 in dividends for the 2017 plan year through the property and casualty insurance “Safety Group” underwritten by Acadia Insurance.  This is the second consecutive year that dividends will be paid directly back to program participants. More than $630,000 in dividends have been paid during the last two years, and nearly $750,000 in dividends have been paid since program inception. Bouvier Insurance of West Hartford is the sponsoring agent for the program which is open to MTAC members of all appointed Acadia agents.

The dividend payment was announced at MTAC’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, October 31, when Artemis Tsagaris, Regional Vice President & Branch Manager for Acadia, presented a ceremonial check to MTAC and its members. “Acadia is thrilled that the Safety Group has earned this dividend based on group and individual excellent loss experience,” Tsagaris said.

Rob Bouvier, President of Bouvier Insurance, said, “This is great news for all members in the program. As the sponsoring agent of the program, we are committed to helping our clients continue to improve safety in order to receive these dividends again in the future.”

MTAC President Joe Sculley stated, “These dividends show the true value of being a MTAC member, and they are possible because of great partners like Acadia and Bouvier Insurance.”

The Safety Group provides commercial property/casualty coverage (including worker’s compensation) to qualified members. These dividends are paid when loss ratio thresholds are met. The Safety Group program is open to eligible new participants. To be eligible, a business must be a MTAC member, and be approved by Acadia Insurance.

There is no such thing as a ‘temporary’ toll

Op Ed in CT Mirror by MTAC President Joe Sculley.

Reports continue to come out about a revamped push for tolls, and reportedly this time they will be “limited” to bridges. There are claims about bridge tolls being removed once the costs of a bridge repair are paid for, which is very hard to believe. In fact, surrounding states provide evidence that claims about temporary tolls never come to fruition.

The Tobin Bridge in Boston was supposed to have its tolls removed after enough money was collected to pay off the $27 million in bonds that were issued to finance the construction. The tolls, which were only charged in the southbound direction, never came down. Now, tolls are charged in both directions on the bridge.

Tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike were supposed to be removed in 2017 after the bonds that were issued to finance the road’s construction were paid off. The tolls are still there. They aren’t coming down.

The tolls on the New York Thruway were supposed to be removed in 1996. They are still up. Not only are they still there, the State of New York has been sending taxpayer funds to the Thruway Authority to infuse cash in order to prevent unpopular toll hikes. The reason this is necessary is because the Thruway spends its toll revenue on things that have nothing to do with the road that is tolled. So much for a “user fee.”

See the complete Op Ed online.

DMV & DAS simplify state contracts eligibility review process

The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), in conjunction with the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), has simplified the process for determining whether or not a motor carrier is eligible to enter into a contract with the State of Connecticut. MTAC applauds the move, which will supersede the former policy, which was problematic for several reasons.

Under the new policy, the motor carrier applying for the contract will have to provide proof of participation in a random drug and alcohol testing program, and provide their insurance agent’s name, email and phone number, so that DMV can contact the insurance agent to verify sufficient coverage.

Besides those requirements, DMV and DAS will verify other items that should not be a problem for a carrier applying for a contract, such as: the business’s DOT Number cannot be inactive, outdated, or under a Federal Out of Service (OOS) order; the business cannot have any suspensions or outstanding money owed and cannot show any outstanding property tax owed to a municipality; the business cannot owe any outstanding taxes to the CT Department of Revenue Services.  If applicable, carriers must also have registered their business with the Secretary of State’s office.

Current and prospective state contractors – which include many MTAC members – should find this new policy to be simple, straightforward, and fair. A copy of the official policy can be seen here [PDF].

MTAC thanks DMV Commissioner Magubane for her leadership and work to implement this common sense policy.

New Training Class: FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

MTAC is pleased to announce that an educational seminar regarding FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, taught by FMCSA Division Administrator Chris Henry and FMCSA Federal Program Specialist Ed Brickner, will be held at the MTAC building on Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. The class will be free for members.

Beginning Jan. 6, 2020, employers will be required to query the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ drug and alcohol violations before permitting those employees to operate a CMV on public roads. Additionally, employers will be required to annually query the Clearinghouse for each driver they currently employ.

Accordingly, all employers of CDL drivers must purchase a query plan in the Clearinghouse. This query plan enables employers, and their consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs), to conduct queries of driver Clearinghouse records.

The seminar on Dec. 10 will cover everything you need to know to be in compliance with the drug and alcohol clearinghouse regulation. Register online in advance for this seminar.

State DERA funding opportunity – Apply before Nov. 25

From CT DEEP.

Mobile sources account for 36% of the carbon pollution and 67% of the smog-forming air pollution in Connecticut. To address this pollution, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is committed to supporting projects that reduce emissions from diesel and other vehicles.

This year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is allocating to Connecticut a minimum of $320,000, authorized under the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), for projects to reduce diesel pollution in the state.  In addition, DEEP has reserved the opportunity to more than double its DERA allocation using funds available through the “DERA Option” under Connecticut’s Volkswagen Mitigation Program (VW Program); this could increase the total to as much as $728,000.

DEEP is seeking grant proposals from municipalities, organizations, and businesses for diesel emissions reduction projects that are environmentally and economically beneficial, can be initiated promptly, and will be completed by August 31, 2020.

Applicants should be aware that DEEP has completed two rounds of project solicitations under Connecticut’s Volkswagen Mitigation Program0F1 (VW Program) and will be seeking additional proposals for VW funding in the future. Over $55 million will be available through the VW Program to fund nitrogen oxide (NOX) mitigation projects, including diesel emission reduction projects, over the next ten years. Incentives under the VW Program are potentially more generous than under the DERA Program, however many clean diesel projects that are eligible for the State DERA Program, are not eligible for VW funding.

You may view more information about projects eligible for DERA funding and an application via the links below.

DMV to allow truck dealers to register commercial trucks

Earlier this year, MTAC and some of its truck dealer members asked legislative leaders and the DMV to give dealers the ability to process new commercial truck (non-IRP) registrations in-house. MTAC is pleased to report that DMV has acted to allow this, and effective October 31, 2019, truck dealers will have the ability to register new trucks with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of up to 67,400 pounds. This will apply to commercial trailers and semi-trailers, as well as trucks or truck tractors that fall within the weight guidelines.

This is a move that will benefit all parties involved. The dealers will be able to complete these registrations in-house in a timelier manner than what they currently have to do. DMV staff will be able to focus more on passenger vehicles, and less on commercial registrations. Carriers will get their newer, safer, and cleaner trucks in service and on the road faster than they have been.

MTAC thanks DMV Commissioner Sibongile Magubane (and other senior DMV officials) for her leadership in implementing this change. As a reminder, Commissioner Magubane will be speaking about this, and other issues, at the MTAC Annual Meeting on Oct. 31 at Maneeley’s in South Windsor.

For questions on this issue, contact MTAC’s Joe Sculley via email, or by calling the MTAC office at (860) 520-4455.

Connecticut Resources

Connecticut still faces billion-dollar budget deficits for 2022 through 2024

Excerpt from Yankee Institute article.

Despite increasing General Fund revenue by $2.52 billion over the next two years, Connecticut will still face billion-dollar budget deficits from 2022 through 2024, according to a budget report released by the Office of Fiscal Analysis.

The state’s Special Transportation Fund is expected to maintain surpluses through 2024, despite the legislature diverting $178 million from transportation in order to balance the budget. Revenue to the STF is expected to grow from $1.7 billion in 2020 to $2.2 billion in 2024.

The Lamont administration, however, argues that growing debt service payments will leave the STF in deficit and have pushed for a plan to institute tolls on Connecticut’s highways.

Lamont’s tolling plan was met with stiff public and legislative resistance and the governor is expected to release a new transportation plan in the coming months that will rely less heavily on tolls and incorporate loans from the federal government.

See the complete article from Yankee Institute online.

FMCSA says drug, alcohol clearinghouse will be open to other agencies

From Transport Topics.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced its plans to permit Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse records to be disclosed to agencies outside the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure compliance with drug testing regulations.

When the Clearinghouse goes into effect Jan. 6, employers will be required to list truck and bus drivers who have failed or refused to take DOT drug tests, and the results for drivers required to complete a return-to-duty program and clean drug test.

In addition to checking the Clearinghouse for all prospective new employees, motor carriers will be required to check for violations at least annually for all of its employed drivers. The database is aimed at mitigating job-hopping by drivers who fail their drug and alcohol tests.

The agency said the new system of records announcement is due to be published in the Federal Register on Oct. 22, and that it will accept comments on the announcement 30 days after publication.

FMCSA is encouraging employers to register for use of the Clearinghouse since it will be going live in less than three months.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse registration now available

From FMCSA.

Users can create a user account on the clearinghouse website. Register today to ensure you are ready on Jan. 6, 2020, when the Clearinghouse will be fully operational. Download instructions to register as a:

If you employ yourself as a CDL driver, register as an employer and, when asked, indicate that you are an owner-operator (that is, an employer who employs himself or herself as a CDL driver, typically a single-driver operation).

FMCSA Updates SMS Website

FMCSA has updated the CSA SMS website with the September 27, 2019 results.

Complete SMS results are available to enforcement users and motor carriers that are logged into the SMS. Logged-in enforcement users can view all carrier safety data, while logged-in motor carriers can only view their own data. If you are a motor carrier and do not have login credentials, please click here for more information on how to obtain your PIN.

Note from MTAC: Learn more about the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse from FMCSA Division Administrator Chris Henry at the MTAC Annual Conference on Oct. 31. Register now.

Connecticut Resources

Lamont still mum on details for Transportation Plan 2.0

From CT News Junkie.

Gov. Ned Lamont told the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association that every single business person he has spoken to has told him that getting people around the state is key to its economic future and economic development.

That’s why he’s focused the past three months on revamping and reselling his transportation proposal to lawmakers.

However, Lamont’s first attempt at solving Connecticut’s transportation problems didn’t go so well, so he’s not going to roll this one out until he can win some legislative support.

“I’m trying to roll out a plan that is doable and finite and can make a difference now,” Lamont told some of Connecticut’s most powerful retailers at their annual meeting at the Bushnell.

Lamont said he’s talking to legislative leadership on a daily basis about the transportation proposal, but “I just don’t want to get ahead of myself.”

“I want to make sure that when we roll this out we have as many people on board as we can,” he added.

Senate Democrats have said they’re not interested in voting on a transportation plan that includes tolls if there’s no Republican support. Republican Senate Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, is currently reviewing the proposal, but has yet to indicate whether he would support it.

See the complete story from CT News Junkie online.