False transportation claims

Letter to Hartford Courant editor by MTAC President Joe Sculley.

In her pro-tolls column [Aug. 8, Op-Ed, “You think tolls are bad? Here are your alternatives.”], Attorney Gail Berritt makes several false claims.

Ms. Berritt claims that a tractor trailer causes as much wear and tear to roads as 9,600 cars, but the truth is, there is a statutory system known as the Federal Bridge Formula, which helps protect our roads and bridges. This system codified in federal law requires that a truck’s gross weight be spread over a certain length, involving a specific number of axles, which must be spaced appropriate lengths apart. This ensures that a truck does less damage to a road or a bridge.

She further incorrectly portrays Connecticut’s gasoline tax, stating that it is 25 cents per gallon. According to the American Petroleum Institute (API), CT’s gasoline tax is currently 42.1 cents per gallon. By representing the gas tax as 25 cents per gallon, she is following the playbook of other toll advocates, and leaving out the 17.1 cents per gallon attributable to the Petroleum Gross Receipts Tax (PGRT), thus misrepresenting the true cost of the tax.

Lastly, Ms. Berritt states that “truckers and out-of-staters could get a free ride since they can easily make it through the state without having to stop for gas.” However, out-of-state trucks do often pay taxes and fees to Connecticut, based on miles driven and fuel used within the state, through Connecticut’s participation in the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) and the International Registration Plan (IRP). Connecticut receives $25 to $30 million annually from out-of-state trucks through these two interstate agreements.

See the complete letter from Joe Sculley in the Hartford Courant online.

ATRI study quantifies driver detention impacts

From ATRI.

The American Transportation Research Institute today released the results of a new analysis on the safety and productivity impacts of truck driver detention at customer facilities. The analysis is based on over 1,900 truck driver and motor carrier surveys conducted in 2014 and 2018.

ATRI’s analysis found that across the four-year period, detention frequency and length has increased, with negative impacts on driver productivity, regulatory compliance and compensation. Key findings include:

  • Drivers reported a 27.4 percent increase in delays of six or more hours.
  • Female drivers were 83.3 percent more likely than men to be delayed six or more hours.q
  • There was a nearly 40 percent increase in drivers who reported that the majority of their pick-ups and deliveries were delayed over the past 12 months due to customer actions.
  • The average excessive detention fee per hour charged by fleets was $63.71, slightly less than the average per hour operating cost of $66.65 found in ATRI’s Operational Costs of Trucking.
  • The negative impact of detention on carrier revenue and driver compensation may be greater among smaller fleets (<50 power units) with 20 percent reporting that they do not charge for excessive detention in order to stay competitive with larger fleets.

See the complete article and final report on the ATRI website.

No one standing down in highway toll debate, Lamont takes new approach

From CT News Junkie.

Gov. Ned Lamont is revising his approach to transportation while “No Tolls CT,” a grassroots opposition group, is purchasing billboard space to make sure the governor’s new plan doesn’t include electronic tolls.

The billboards, which went up this week on I-91, I-84, and I-95, are supposed to remind lawmakers of Connecticut residents’ continued opposition to tolls and to encourage the public to contact their lawmakers.

“2020 is an election year,” Patrick Sasser, founder of No Tolls CT, said. “Do these politicians really want a vote for tolls hanging over their heads?”

Sasser declined to say how much the group spent on the billboards, but was certain it was far less than the construction trades and unions.

Last week, the Connecticut State Building Trades Council and officers of the Connecticut AFL-CIO sent Democratic lawmakers a letter urging them to pass legislation to implement electronic tolling as quickly as possible.

See the complete article from CT News Junkie online.

Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program application deadline Sept. 16

From CT DEEP.

On August 1, 2019, DEEP announced that $7.5 million is available under Connecticut’s Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program for use by non-government and government entities towards projects to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from a wide array of mobile sources.

Please be reminded that proposals are due no later than 4 p.m. on Sept. 16, 2019. If you are interested in applying for funding under this program, please review important program information and download forms at www.ct.gov/deep/vw.

If you have any questions regarding the program or the application process, please review our FAQ and our recently held webinar, which may answer some of your questions.  If you have any additional questions, please email them to deep.mobilesources@ct.gov

Time running low for fleets to convert AOBRDs to ELDs

From Transport Topics.

Although the federal electronic logging device mandate has been in effect for nearly two years, the regulation will take full force later this year when an exemption for older e-log systems is set to expire.

Motor carriers that continue to use grandfathered systems known as automatic onboard recording devices, or AOBRDs, have until Dec. 16 to update their onboard technology to compliant ELDs.

Technology vendors said many of their fleet customers have completed that transition, while others have begun the process.

Carriers that are still waiting to make the switch should get started now, they said.

Doyle Sims & Sons Trucking Inc., a 125-truck operation based in Gleason, Tenn., did not wait until the deadline to convert its AOBRDs to ELDs.

“We just got done,” Sheena Brooks, the company’s logistics analyst, said Aug. 9. “We wanted to get ahead of the curve a little bit in case there were any issues either with the firmware or our drivers.”

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Connecticut Resources

Payroll Tax Commission survey

MTAC members may have received the message below from the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services. This was mandated by General Assembly, which is considering replacing the state income tax with a payroll tax, as part of a workaround of the federal SALT cap established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

MTAC members are welcome to share their thoughts on this matter with MTAC at any time. You can send your comments to Joe Sculley via email.

Dear Taxpayer:

Public Act 19-117, §385, established a Connecticut Payroll Tax Commission to study implementation of a payroll tax on employers. A payroll tax is a tax paid by employers based on the wages paid to their employees.

To inform the Commission’s work, the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) is required to gather certain data necessary to evaluate the potential impact of instituting a state payroll tax.

The purpose of this communication is to inform you that on Thursday, August 15, 2019, you will receive an e-mail from DRS that includes a brief survey, with four questions about your business entity. DRS asks that you respond to this request for information at your earliest convenience, but no later than October 1, 2019.

Your response will help ensure DRS captures a representative cross-section of data from Connecticut’s business community. Please note the Commission is prohibited from disclosing any taxpayer information that DRS is not otherwise authorized to disclose under state law.

More information on the Connecticut Payroll Tax Commission is available online.

FMCSA unveils proposed changes to Hours of Service Rules

From Transport Topics.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Aug. 14 issued a long-awaited proposal to make changes to its hours-of-service rules that would increase truck drivers’ flexibility with their 30-minute rest break and with allocating time in a sleeper berth.

The proposal also would extend by two hours duty time for drivers encountering adverse weather and expand the current 100 air-mile “shorthaul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, consistent with workday rules for longhaul truck drivers.

The agency will accept comments on the proposal for 45 days after it is published in the Federal Register, scheduled for Aug. 20.

In the proposal, FMCSA offers five key revisions to existing HOS rules:

  • Increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by tying the break requirement to eight hours of driving time without an interruption of at least 30 minutes and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status.
  • seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off-duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.
  • Allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.
  • Modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
  • Change the shorthaul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

FMCSA-required changes to Custody & Control and Alcohol Testing forms

From MTAC partner Fleet Screen.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) will become operational in 2020. We would like to inform you about some upcoming changes related to recording information on the Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF) and Alcohol Testing Form (ATF). Fleet Screen will work with clinics to ensure this process is followed when required in 2020.

What will Change?

The current versions of the CCF and ATF specifically permit the use of either the driver’s social security number (SSN) or employee identification number (EIN) when completing the CCF or ATF. However, effective January 6, 2020, FMCSA is requiring that the commercial driver’s license number (CDL) must be used instead of the SSN or EIN when FMCSA-covered drivers’ positive drug or alcohol test results are reported to the Clearinghouse.

What does this mean for Employers (Motor carriers), C/TPAs, Collectors and BAT’s?

  • In accordance with 49 CFR 382.123(b), the person completing the CCF or the ATF (clinic personnel in most cases) must annotate the driver’s CDL number and State of Issuance in Step 1, Section C of the CCF or Step 1B of the ATF for each FMCSA-regulated test.
  • If the employer or C/TPA does not provide the CDL and the State of Issuance, then the collector or alcohol technician should ask the driver for this information at the collection site.

All employers of CDL drivers must also 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.

  • Beginning fall 2019, registered employers will log into their Clearinghouse accounts to purchase their query plan. Query plans may be purchased from the FMCSA Clearinghouse only.

MTAC will provide additional information as we get closer to the effective date in January 2020.

Note: At the MTAC Annual Meeting on Oct. 31, FMCSA Division Administrator Chris Henry will run an educational seminar, in which compliance with this regulation will be discussed.

Path of unpopular toll proposal maps out opposition

Excerpt from Republican American.

Joseph Sculley, the president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, agreed that some legislators representing cities and towns along the proposed toll roads are wary of the political repercussions of supporting tolls.

“Definitely, there are people who are afraid of tolls, for lack of a better word, because of the districts they represent, but I also think it is just a statewide issue,” he said.

Sculley said even legislators representing rural districts far removed from the targeted highways understand tolls will end up costing their constituents more one way or another.

“I haven’t heard anyone saying whether directly or indirectly that they are OK with tolls because it doesn’t hit their district. I know of districts that would not be hit, and their legislators are still opposed,” he said. 

See the complete article from the Republican American online.

Barry named MTAC State Representative of the Year

State Representative Jill Barry (D – Glastonbury) has been named the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC) State Representative of the Year, MTAC announced today. The State Representative of the Year award is an annual award presented to a member of the State House of Representatives who supports public policy which allows the trucking industry to remain competitive in Connecticut.

“Representative Barry has demonstrated a willingness to stand up for small businesses in Connecticut, including those in the trucking industry,” said MTAC President Joe Sculley. “She has also shown a commitment to fiscal responsibility, which is needed in the legislature.”

Sculley added that Representative Barry keeps an open mind and considers all aspects of an issue before making a decision. “For example, while Representative Barry was a leader on anti-vaping legislation, she heard the concerns of common carriers who were key stakeholders in the issue, and made sure they were addressed,” Sculley stated.

Sculley concluded by highlighting the importance of the trucking industry. “More than 85 percent of Connecticut communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods. Trucks transport 94 percent of total manufactured tonnage in the state. The average 18-wheel tractor trailer pays more than $17,000 annually in state and federal road taxes,” he stated. “The trucking industry plays a crucial role in the Connecticut economy, and it pays a lot of taxes in order to do that.”

“We thank Representative Barry for supporting the trucking industry and look forward to working with her for years to come.”