Will Connecticut legislators raise the gas tax?

From CT Mirror.

With tolls off the table in 2021, state officials could look to gasoline tax hikes to salvage Connecticut’s imperiled transportation program.

And while neither Gov. Ned Lamont nor legislators have proposed an increase, one of the arguments most frequently used to defeat it — Connecticut’s gas taxes are among the nation’s highest — no longer holds true.

An analysis of states’ fuel tax burdens by the American Petroleum Institute showed Connecticut’s levies — which contribute about 36 cents per gallon to the price — rank slightly below the national average and 15th nationwide.

The API, a national trade association for the oil and natural gas industry, did rank Connecticut’s 69-cents-per-gallon diesel tax ninth overall among states, and seven pennies greater than the national average.

“I do anticipate a conversation around fuel taxes” during the next General Assembly session, said Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, co-chairman of the Transportation Committee. The session convenes Jan. 6.

See the complete article from CT Mirror online.

FMCSA extends emergency declaration to Feb. 28

FMCSA has announced that they have expanded and extended the Emergency Declaration that was set to expire on Dec. 31. This extension includes the same regulatory relief for motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to COVID-19, as included in the Sept. 11 modified and extended declaration. The primary change with this current declaration is the inclusion of vaccine transportation.

The expanded declaration is limited to the transportation of:

  1. Livestock and livestock feed;
  2. Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
  3. Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19;
  4. 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, and;
  5. Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.

Please note, this expanded declaration became effective at 12:00 A.M. December 1st, and expires on February 28th, 2021.

As with previous declarations, emergency regulatory relief is provided from parts 390 through 399 of the FMCSRs, including the hours-of-service regulations. Emergency relief does not include certain FMCSR’s related to the safe operation of CMVs, such as controlled substance and alcohol testing, financial responsibility requirements, CDL requirements, operation of a CMV while ill or fatigued, size and weight requirements, and additional FMCSR’s which are outlined in the declaration.

We encourage everyone to review the applicability, restrictions, and limitations which are included in the exemption online.

Get answers to ELD-related questions

FMCSA provides answers to frequently asked questions about ELDs. Consult these FAQs when you have an ELD-related question, as the answer may already be at your fingertips.

Some of the questions included in FMCSA’s FAQ include:

  • What are the key requirements of the ELD rule?
  • Who must comply with the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule?
  • What are the exceptions to the ELD mandate?
  • What is the carrier’s responsibility in ensuring that they are using a registered device?

See the answers to these questions, and many more, at this FMCSA website.

Connecticut Resources

Unemployment Trust Fund goes broke, businesses on the hook

From NBC Connecticut.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on Connecticut’s workforce. A record number of people have filed for unemployment this year and hundreds of thousands of residents are currently collecting those benefits.

As a result, the unemployment insurance trust fund has run dry and the state is borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government to pay claims.

“The state takes out the loan, but it’s actually businesses that pay it back with interest. In fact, significant interest,” Eric Gjede, vice president of government affairs for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said.

See the complete article from NBC Connecticut online.

Study points to greater gas price impacts from transpo pact

From Southcoast Today.

A new study of the cap-and-trade program under development by Northeast states to reduce carbon emissions from cars and trucks found that the program could be more than twice as expensive for drivers than previously estimated, with the pandemic potentially playing a major role in how effective the Transportation Climate Initiative will be.

The Center for State Policy Analysis (CSPA) at Tufts University concluded that TCI would help reduce carbon emissions across the region and generate significant revenue for participating states to invest in clean energy alternatives and public health.

The tradeoff, however, would be increases in gasoline and diesel prices from as little at 3 cents to as much as 47 cents per gallon in 2022, according to the report released Thursday. The wide range takes in account a variety of factors, including how aggressively states try to reduce emissions and the health of the economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

See the complete article from Southcoast Today online.

IRS issues guidance on disallowing PPP-funded expenses for 2020 tax year

From Wipfli.

On November 18, the IRS released Revenue Ruling 2020-27, which states that a taxpayer who reasonably expects full PPP loan forgiveness is not allowed to deduct expenses up to the loan forgiveness amount for the year in which the expenses are incurred.

The IRS laid out two situations for calendar-year taxpayers in the revenue ruling.

In situation one, the taxpayer incurs qualified PPP expenses and applies for loan forgiveness in November 2020. The taxpayer satisfies all the requirements under the CARES Act for loan forgiveness, but they do not receive notice from the lender on loan forgiveness before their year-end.

In situation two, the facts are the same except the taxpayer has not filed their loan forgiveness application before their year-end. The taxpayer intends to file the loan forgiveness application in 2021 and reasonably expects full loan forgiveness.

According to the IRS, in both situations the taxpayer can’t deduct expenses funded with PPP loans in the year incurred because they have a reasonable expectation of forgiveness. The IRS position is that at the end of the tax year, the reimbursement of their eligible expenses, in the form of covered loan forgiveness, is reasonably foreseeable, making it inappropriate to claim the deductions.

See the complete post from Wipfli online.

MTAC produces pro-trucking video

MTAC has produced a pro-trucking video which focuses on the critical role the trucking industry, and specifically truck drivers, held in keeping our country going during the worst times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please view the video, share with your drivers, and post on social media.

New payroll tax may surprise Connecticut residents

From NBC Connecticut.

Beginning on January 1 an estimated 1.7 million workers in the state of Connecticut will see a half of a percent of every paycheck go to the CT Paid Leave Authority trust fund. However, they won’t be able to access any paid leave for one year.

See the complete story from NBC Connecticut online.

Truck, engine makers refine products to meet 2021 GHG emission standards

From Transport Topics.

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2016 finalized the Phase 2 standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency for model year 2021 heavy- and medium-duty trucks, no one had a crystal ball that could predict how the market would look four years down the road.

Nonetheless, truck and engine manufacturers were quietly confident they could come up with solutions that not only comply with the regulation but save carriers money through better fuel economy, improved vehicle uptime and reduced maintenance costs.

Since then, original equipment manufacturers and engine suppliers have found a variety of ways to meet the challenges posed by the 2021 standards.

“The OEMs I’m using have done a really good job,” said Jeff Harris, vice president of maintenance for USA Truck and former chairman of American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

FCC reassigns transportation safety spectrum

From Transport Topics.

Despite pushback from transportation stakeholders and key policymakers on Capitol Hill, the Federal Communications Commission moved forward with its plan to reallocate some transportation safety spectrum for broadband uses.

The FCC on Nov. 18 voted to reassign a portion of the 5.9 GHz transportation safety band to allow use by unlicensed Wi-Fi content providers, an action the commission argued will promote wireless access. The move was meant to boost the economy during the pandemic era while continuing to ensure certain access for transportation safety purposes, regulators said.

“We have all made it clear that freeing up additional mid-band spectrum is critical to securing America’s leadership in wireless,” said FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr.

“By freeing up 45 MHz of this spectrum in the lower portion of this band, it will supersize WiFi — a technology so many of us are relying on like never before during this pandemic,” added FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.