Buttigieg eyes ‘Big, Bold’ infrastructure plan, Schumer says

From Transport Topics.

Advancing a “big, bold” infrastructure policy measure with an emphasis on climate change is a priority for President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation, said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The top Democrat in the Senate, who met with Pete Buttigieg, formerly the mayor of South Bend, Ind., said he shared the nominee’s strong interest in helping to produce a massive, transformative transportation package in the coming months.

The infrastructure legislation would look to ameliorate heavy congestion along freight corridors, facilitate access to public transportation systems and expand programs linked to electric and autonomous vehicles. Schumer also said he promoted the need for ensuring employment opportunities across the transportation sector, as well as paving the way for a new tunnel network between New York and New Jersey.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

In memoriam: Don Vallerie, Sr.

MTAC is sad to report that longtime MTAC Board member, and previous MTAC Chairman Don Vallerie, Sr. passed away on Dec. 28.

Due to the COVID 19 restrictions affecting all of us at this time, a private funeral mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, Jan. 5  at 1:30 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Seton Church, Ridgefield. Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Meals on Wheels of Ridgefield, 25 Gilbert Street; Ridgefield, CT 06877,  or the Ridgefield Food Pantry – 400 Main Street; Ridgefield, CT 06877.

Please view the complete obituary for Don Vallerie, Sr. is available online.

TCI ignores science and economic reality

Op Ed by MTAC President Joe Sculley

Gov. Ned Lamont has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to signal Connecticut’s intention to join the Transportation Climate Initiative. However, a MOU has no force of law, and the Connecticut legislature should follow the lead of other states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) who have signaled their skepticism of TCI through their decision not to sign the TCI MOU.

The name Transportation and Climate Initiative sounds nice, but ultimately it is nothing more than an increase in costs to consumers, which will not have any impact on climate change. TCI proponents can refer to it as a “cap and invest” system, but the public needs to know what this really means. The government is taking money from a private sector entity (fuel wholesalers) through the imposition of an “emissions cap” and forced purchasing of “allowances.” This is a tax, according to the Merriam-Webster  dictionary definition which defines a tax as “a charge usually of money imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”

These TCI imposed costs would be passed on to consumers, as is every other cost that a business incurs. The TCI costs would essentially function like a third fuel tax in Connecticut, on top of the existing per-gallon fuel taxes, and the Petroleum Gross Receipts Tax (PGRT) that Connecticut already imposes, which are already factored into the price of a gallon of fuel.

See the complete Op Ed by Joe Sculley online.

FMCSA extends CDL, CLP & Med Card Waiver through Feb. 28

Summary by American Trucking Associations (ATA).

This waiver becomes effective on January 1, 2021 and expires on February 28, 2021. Please read the specific provisions below, as the dates and applicability vary.

For CDL/CLP Drivers, the waiver will:

  • Waive until February 28, 2021, the maximum period of CDL validity for CDLs due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020;
  • Waive until February 28, 2021, the maximum period of CLP validity for CLPs that are due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020, without requiring the CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests;
  • Waive until February 28, 2021, the requirement that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test;

Medical Requirements for CDL/CLP and non-CDL drivers:

  • This notice will waive, until February 28, 2021 the requirement that CDL holders, CLP holders, and non-CDL drivers have a medical examination and certification, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification and any required medical variance that were issued for a period of 90 days or longer and that expired on or after September 1, 2020.
  • This notice will also waive the requirement that, in order to maintain the medical certification status of “certified,” CDL or CLP holders provide the SDLA with an original or copy of a subsequently issued medical examiner’s certificate and any required medical variance, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after September 1, 2020.

For State Driver License Agencies (SDLA):

  • This notice waives, until February 28, 2021 the requirement that the SDLA change the CDL or CLP holder’s medical certification status to “not certified” upon the expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after September 1, 2020. Additionally, the notice waives certain requirements with regards to SDLAs downgrading a drivers CDL or CLP upon expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided the SDLAs have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after September 1, 2020.

The full waiver notice can be found here. Carriers and drivers should review this waiver to ensure all terms, conditions, and restrictions are met.

Connecticut Resources

Connecticut Paid Leave Act – Register and act today

From CT Employment Law Blog.

Here are three things to do right now:

  1. Register with the State Authority. This is essential; all employers need to do this (presumably by January 1 for reasons I’ll explain next.)
  2. Figure out if you’re going to use the state Paid Leave plan or a private plan.
  3. Contact your payroll provider and, effective January 1, 2021, start withholding 1/2 of 1 percent of each employee paycheck for employee contributions. These collections are due no later than March 31, 2021 to the Paid Leave Authority. More details here.

If you have any questions, be sure to look at the state FAQ for a head start, and contact your employment law counsel for guidance.

Of all the things to do before year end, this should be a top priority this week.

See the complete post from CT Employment Law Blog online.

Reminder: Employers must conduct annual queries by Jan. 5

From FMCSA.

If an employer has already conducted a query on all currently-employed CDL drivers, that employer has met the annual query requirement, and is not required to conduct a query for one year from the query date.

Employers may also designate a consortium/third-part administrator (C/TPA) to conduct these queries on their behalf. Employers can log in to their Clearinghouse accounts and access their Query History page (under My Dashboard > Queries) to verify which drivers have been queried, and when each completed query was conducted.

If an employer has not yet conducted a query on each currently-employed CDL driver, the employer must conduct this annual check to meet the compliance requirement.

What do employers need to do to satisfy the annual query requirement?

Per § 382.701, employers of CDL drivers must conduct a query of the Clearinghouse at least once per year for each CDL driver they employ. A limited query satisfies the annual query requirement.

Employers must obtain a general consent from CDL drivers they employ before conducting limited queries in the Clearinghouse to view these drivers’ information (you can download a sample limited query consent form).

You can log in to the Clearinghouse and conduct your annual queries today.

What if an employer conducted a pre-employment query this year?

The pre-employment query will satisfy the annual query requirement for that driver. You are not required to query that driver until one year after that pre-employment query.

To learn more about queries and consent requests, download the Queries and Consent Requests Factsheet.

What is a query plan?

Before an employer can conduct queries in the Clearinghouse, the employer must purchase a query plan. Download the How to Purchase a Query Plan job aid for full instructions.

Log in to the Clearinghouse

If you don’t have a Clearinghouse account, register today.

Biden introduces Buttigieg as transportation choice

From Transport Topics.

Pete Buttigieg, the former Democratic presidential candidate as well as former mayor of South Bend, Ind., will be nominated to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation under the Biden administration.

In a statement announcing the pick, President-elect Joe Biden described Buttigieg as “a patriot and a problem-solver who speaks to the best of who we are as a nation,” and that he wants him to lead the Transportation Department “because this position stands at the nexus of so many of the interlocking challenges and opportunities ahead of us.

“Jobs, infrastructure, equity, and climate all come together at the DOT, the site of some of our most ambitious plans to build back better,” Biden said. “I trust Mayor Pete to lead this work with focus, decency, and a bold vision — he will bring people together to get big things done.”

See the complete story from Transport Topics online.

Trucks carry first doses of COVID-19 vaccine to hospitals

From Transport Topics.

As the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine begin to ship, trucking experts on the ground level of the distribution effort said the logistical elements are in place for a successful rollout of an estimated 50 million doses of the vaccine between now and the end of January.

“We have dedicated and hardworking people around the world who have been trained to store, handle, transport and deliver vaccines,” UPS Inc. CEO Carol Tomé said. “We’re pleased to support our health care partners with smart, efficient logistics for these vaccines that will protect communities and save lives.”

Operation Warp Speed is the federal joint effort between government and private industry to develop and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. The initial distribution phase began at the Kalamazoo, Mich., Pfizer plant, where the vaccine — co-developed by pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and BioNTech SE — was moved by truck and air to UPS and FedEx distribution hubs and then on to 636 locations across the country. Atlanta-based UPS has set up a special 24/7 command center at its Worldport aviation hub in Louisville, Ky.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

MTAC’s Sculley elected to ATRI Research Advisory Committee

From ATRI.

The American Transportation Research Institute today released the names of those individuals appointed by the ATRI Board of Directors to serve on the 2021-2022 Research Advisory Committee (RAC). Among other activities, ATRI’s RAC is responsible for annually identifying the top research priorities for the trucking industry. RAC members represent a diverse cross-section of trucking industry stakeholders including motor carriers, industry suppliers, commercial drivers, shippers, law enforcement, academia and government.

“ATRI’s RAC members serve a critical role in identifying and prioritizing the trucking industry’s top research needs. We congratulate all those appointed by the ATRI Board to serve in this important role and look forward to working with them,” said Rebecca Brewster, ATRI President and COO.

The complete ATRI release, including list of all Research Advisory Committee members, is available online.

UPS says it can handle vaccine rollout, holiday parcel rush

From Transport Topics.

UPS Inc. said it has the capacity to handle the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and an unprecedented holiday package rush this month after investments in automation, tracking technology and dry-ice production.

The courier is the primary end-to-end distributor for Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine, as well as for kits to prepare the shots and dry ice shipments to keep the inoculations at extremely cold temperatures, UPS sales chief Kate Gutmann said in an interview. The vaccine and kits will have tracking devices that allow shipments to be monitored at all times.

“We’re planning enough capacity on the ground and in the air to make sure that there is no limit around the UPS side,” Gutmann said.

The initial vaccine shipments will coincide with the busiest shipping weeks of an extraordinary peak season in which virus-averse consumers are going online to order a record deluge of goods for home delivery. U.S. approval of the Pfizer vaccine is expected soon, now that the Food and Drug Administration has published a report saying there are no safety concerns to prevent its authorization.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.