U.S. Department of Labor issues final overtime rule

From US Department of Labor.

Today the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to make 1.3 million American workers eligible for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The final rule updates the earnings thresholds necessary to exempt executive, administrative, or professional employees from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay requirements, and allows employers to count a portion of certain bonuses (and commissions) towards meeting the salary level. The new thresholds account for growth in employee earnings since the currently enforced thresholds were set in 2004. In the final rule, the Department is:

  • raising the “standard salary level” from the currently enforced level of $455 to $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year for a full-year worker);
  • raising the total annual compensation level for “highly compensated employees (HCE)” from the currently-enforced level of $100,000 to $107,432 per year;
  • allowing employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) that are paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level, in recognition of evolving pay practices; and
  • revising the special salary levels for workers in U.S. territories and in the motion picture industry.

The final rule will be effective on January 1, 2020.

See the complete release from the US Department of Labor online.

Connecticut Resources

Bysiewicz pitches transportation plan: low interest federal loans, tolls for bridges

From Yankee Institute.

Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz offered a look into Gov. Ned Lamont’s new transportation plan today during a public meeting before the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.

The plan involves using low-interest federal loans available through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Act, part of the Build America Bureau with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The federal loans would be combined with limited tolling on some Connecticut bridges, but not the extensive congestion tolling plan originally put forward by both Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lamont.

Sources indicate the toll rates for bridges will be low, with a discount for in-state residents.

See the complete article from the Yankee Institute online.

Feds to brief legislators on transportation funding alternatives

From CT Mirror.

With a briefing by federal transportation finance officials, the administration of Gov. Ned Lamont is expected to give lawmakers a glimpse Friday of potential ways the state might fund a 10-year transportation infrastructure plan without significant highway tolls.

Officials from the Build America Bureau of the U.S. Department of Transportation are coming to Hartford to privately brief lawmakers on the transportation-finance alternatives that the Lamont administration has been exploring since running into a dead end on its tolls plan.

The Lamont administration has been working on CT2030, a list of highway and rail improvements that could upgrade aging infrastructure and shorten commutes.

“I think we’re going to be ready to roll that out in next two weeks,” Lamont said Monday.

The governor said the goal is to make the case for projects that can make a material improvement in the lives of commuters over the next decade and also improve the state’s business climate. As an example, he mentioned a recently completed widening of I-84 outside Waterbury that eliminated a bottleneck and sped up rush-hour traffic.

See the complete article from CT Mirror online.

EPA to strip California’s car emissions authority

From Transport Topics.

The Trump administration will announce it is rescinding California’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles at an event at the EPA’s Washington headquarters Sept. 18, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to announce it will revoke the so-called waiver underpinning California’s power to set vehicle greenhouse gas standards separately from the Trump administration’s broader rule to ease federal vehicle-efficiency standards, which is expected in the weeks ahead, the people said.

The people asked to not be identified discussing plans prior to announcement.

Among those invited to the agency’s headquarters are free-market groups that have championed the Trump administration’s rollback of automobile fuel economy and emissions standards adopted during the Obama administration. Plans for the announcement are still being developed and could change, one of the people said.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Insurers eye safety technologies

From Transport Topics.

As the trucking industry grapples with a litigious environment and many motor carriers struggle to manage ever-rising insurance premiums, safety technologies have captured the attention of the insurance industry. Collision mitigation systems, telematics and onboard cameras can help fleets reduce or possibly eliminate costly and catastrophic losses, industry representatives said.

Rates and premiums for commercial auto liability insurance policies continue to rise, as they have been for the past several years, said Todd Reiser, vice president of the transportation practice at insurance broker Lockton Cos. Pricing is based on individual company loss experience as well as general industry trends and actuarial analysis, he noted. “Rate increases have ranged from single digits to, in some cases, double or worse depending on these factors.”

And the excess liability insurance market, Reiser said, “is in worse shape than the primary layer market, and is experiencing substantial rate increases combined with significant reductions in available capacity.”

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

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.