Truckers love Stefanowski

From WTNH.

Republican Bob Stefanowski got a hero’s welcome from the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut that represents hundreds of trucking firms and an estimated 60,000 employees. It’s not hard to see why.

On Thursday, Stefanowski said, “Absolutely no tolls during the entire term. That’s a real promise.”

Andy Anastasio of Anastasio & Sons Trucking comes from a multi-generation trucking firm in New Haven and, like most of his peers, is turned off by Ned Lamont’s proposal to impose tolls on out-of-state trucks and claims that truckers are getting a free ride. He greatly prefers Stefanowski’s no tolls promise, and said, “Yes, he seems to be singing the right tune for us.”

John Pruchnicki of Coastal Carriers Trucking added, “Mr. Stefanowski, he’s indicated he’s not interested in tolls at all so, you know, that would be the person we’d like to see there.”

Stefanowski really had the crowd all to himself. The Association said they invited Lamont, but they never heard back from his campaign.

Stefanowski promises trucking firms he’ll oppose tolls

From the Associated Press.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski on Thursday promised Connecticut’s trucking industry that he won’t push for highway tolls if he’s elected in November.

“I will have your back,” the Madison businessman told members of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut on Thursday. “Tolls and taxes, there’s been enough of that.”

Stefanowski said the extra revenue generated from tolls isn’t needed to fix the state’s roads and bridges. Rather, he said the state is “spending plenty,” but not in the right places. He pointed to the state Department of Transportation’s headquarters in Newington, calling it a palace.

“Meanwhile our roads and bridges are crumbling,” he said.

Stefanowski has called for cutting or eliminating various taxes, including phasing out the personal income tax over eight years, to jumpstart Connecticut’s economy.

Two of Stefanowski’s rivals, Democrat Ned Lamont and independent candidate Oz Griebel have proposed variations of tolling proposals. Lamont has called for tolling heavy trucks, similar to what Rhode Island has instituted. He predicts truck tolls could raise $360 million annually in Connecticut to help fix transportation infrastructure.

See the full article from the Associated Press online.

Connecticut transportation bonds sale draws record investor interest

From Hartford Business Journal.

Transportation bonds worth more than $850 million have drawn record demand from individual investors, the Connecticut State Treasurer’s office reported.

The sale of the two bonds, worth $750 million and $100.1 million each, will fund transportation infrastructure improvements statewide, and refinance existing bonds for savings, State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier’s office said.

The bond sale started Oct. 15. Since then, individual investors have ordered $478 million in bonds while institutional-investor orders approached $2 billion. The oversubscription means the bonds were repriced to lower yields, saving taxpayers’ interest expense, the Treasurer’s office said.

See complete article from Hartford Business Journal online.

Commodore Hull Bridge Announcement

Message from Connecticut DOT

The Route 8 Commodore Hull Bridge will be open for overweight permitted travel, effective Oct. 29. This includes tractor-trailer combinations up to 160,000 pounds on 8 axles, divisible loads, and self-propelled cranes. The announcement is posted in the Bulletin section of Connecticut DOT’s OS/OW permit site, which carriers connect to through the CVISN portal.

For questions on this, contact the OS/OW department directly at dot.osowpermits@ct.gov or (860) 594.2880.

U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in New Prime case

From the Scopelitis Firm.

On October 3, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Oliveira v. New Prime Inc ., a case concerning the use of arbitration to resolve disputes with owner-operators. The plaintiff, who worked as an owner-operator, alleges that New Prime “misclassified” him as an independent contractor but in fact treated him like an employee. His independent-contractor operating agreement with New Prime contained a provision requiring the parties to submit any disputes to binding arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The lower courts held that the plaintiff qualified under the FAA’s exemption for “transportation workers.” This meant that he could not be compelled to arbitration.

During the oral argument, even the more pro-arbitration justices appeared receptive to Oliveira’s position on the exemption, reasoning that, when the FAA was enacted, the phrase “contract of employment” was sometimes used to describe independent-contractor relationships. An opinion is not expected until 2019. Whatever the Court decides, its opinion will have a direct impact on transportation companies that have existing arbitration agreements with owner-operators, as well as those that may be considering implementing them. However, even if the FAA does not apply to independent-contractor operating agreements, a transportation business may still be able to compel arbitration by invoking the provisions of state arbitration law. As such, it is imperative that transportation businesses carefully consider choice-of-law issues in arbitration agreements with owner-operators.

See the complete article from the Scopelitis Firm online (PDF).

Oil falls most in eight weeks as investors avoid risky assets

From Bloomberg via Transport Topics.

Crude posted the biggest decline in eight weeks as a risk-off sentiment spread through global markets.

Futures tumbled 3% in New York on Oct. 11. Investors eyed a sixth day of U.S. equity losses along with heightened volatility. Meanwhile, domestic crude stockpiles rose for a third straight week as refineries conducted seasonal maintenance, processing less oil, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

“The enhanced volatility in the market in general is spilling over into energy, as investors are reducing risk,” said Rob Thummel, managing director at Tortoise, which manages $16 billion in energy-related assets. “When you have volatile equity markets, the risk-off trade is happening and you’ve got a third consecutive build, that’s generally not a good recipe for crude oil prices.”

OPEC cut its estimate for global demand for its crude next year due to weakening economic growth and higher output from rivals, such as U.S. shale drillers. OPEC’s outlook comes amid pressure on the cartel to pump more to offset any impact from Iranian sanctions and calls from President Donald Trump to boost output.

West Texas Intermediate for November delivery slid $2.20 to settle at $70.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest level in more than two weeks. Total volume traded was about 21% above the 100-day average.

See the complete article online.

Today’s Pickup: Barclays predicts oil price to reach $70 next year

From FreightWaves.

As the volatility in oil prices continue, there have been different opinions on its future with some predicting a three digit rate in a few years while a few hopeful of a downturn. Banking major Barclays has a rather interesting take on the situation, reasoning out that the prices would fall to around $70 per barrel next year rather climb higher.

A report published by Barclays mentions that the Iran crisis might be all but over, as Iranian oil exports have crashed to nearly 0.5 million barrels per day (bpd) – a number which it believes might not go down any further. Despite the U.S. tightening the screws around countries looking to buy Iran’s oil, countries like India and China still continue their trade with Iran, and this situation might not change in the future.

Barclays contends that the low spare capacity scare from OPEC is not something to worry about, as it believes there is ample capacity in store, although Saudi Arabia continues to shield the strength of its reserves. Barclays reasons out that OPEC’s hesitation to increase production is not because it wants to push the prices up, but because it might cause the prices to crash if there’s an economic slowdown.

See the complete post from FreightWaves online.

Four Democratic representatives seek IG investigation of TTU glider study

From Transport Topics.

Four House Democrats have asked the Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General to investigate a glider truck study by a Tennessee Tech University researcher. The study already is the subject of a research misconduct investigation by the university.

“Despite conclusions suggesting that glider vehicles emitted similar levels of pollution as conventional vehicles, it now seems clear that from an abundance of publicly available information that the TTU glider study, used by EPA to help justify its proposed glider repeal rule, cannot be trusted,” said a letter sent last month to the EPA Office of Inspector General.

The letter was written by Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Donald Beyer Jr. of Virginia, Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon and Jerry McNerney of California.

The Inspector General already is in the process of conducting an audit of a separate EPA study that was requested by Republican members of Congress. The 2017 EPA study concluded glider trucks can emit 43 times more nitrogen oxides and 55 times more particulate matter than newer trucks in compliance with federal emissions standards.

Glider trucks combine new truck bodies with older and oftentimes rebuilt engines.

See the complete story from Transport Topics online.

Senior FMCSA official to speak at MTAC meeting

MTAC is pleased to announce that Curtis Thomas, who is the Regional Field Administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), will be speaking during the afternoon session of the MTAC Annual Meeting. In this role, Mr. Thomas is responsible for leadership, oversight, training effectiveness, and coordination of policy and program delivery of a comprehensive surface transportation safety and security program.

There is new leadership at FMCSA, and Mr. Thomas plans to discuss some of the things the agency is doing. This is likely to include talk about what FMCSA is doing to work with small businesses and state trucking associations as they work to improve safety. This type of outreach and desire to work with small businesses and state trucking associations is something that was not seen under previous FMCSA leadership. MTAC members are encouraged to attend the annual meeting to hear this important news.

This is also a reminder that FMCSA Division Administrator Chris Henry will teach a seminar during a morning breakout session at the MTAC Annual Meeting. Mr. Henry will talk about the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule, including the provision allowing the use of AOBRDs, and exemptions to the ELD rule. He will also discuss the recently announced Personal Conveyance policy, and the potential changes to Hours of Service, as outlined in the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Register to attend the MTAC Annual Meeting to hear these presentations from FMCSA.

Changes for Connecticut’s International Registration Plan

Message from the Connecticut DMV.

The Connecticut International Registration Plan (IRP) is implementing a new electronic system through which it will process applications. The anticipated implementation is mid-December 2018. While we don’t expect any significant inconvenience as a result of this transition, we thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation during the period when Connecticut IRP transitions to a new vendor.

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, Connecticut will be accepting an electronic image of a cab card, the original paper cab card or a paper copy of the cab card. An electronic image and any paper copy of a cab card must be legible. A cab card is defined as “evidence of registration, other than a plate, issued for an apportioned vehicle registered under the plan by the base jurisdiction and carried in or on the identified vehicle.”

Click here to see the announcement from the Connecticut DMV.