Brake Safety Week is Sept. 15-21

From CVSA.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Brake Safety Week is scheduled for Sept. 15-22. Throughout that week, enforcement officials will conduct roadside safety inspections on commercial motor vehicles throughout North America. Vehicles with critical brake violations, or other critical vehicle inspection item violations, will be restricted from traveling until those violations are corrected. Vehicles without critical vehicle inspection item violations are eligible to receive a CVSA decal indicating that the vehicle passed inspection.

During this year’s Brake Safety Week, inspectors will be paying special attention to brake hoses/tubing. While checking these brake system components is always part of the North American Standard Inspection Program, CVSA is highlighting brake hoses/tubing as a reminder of their importance to vehicle mechanical fitness and safety.

Routine brake system inspections and component replacement are vital to the safety of commercial motor vehicles. The brake systems on commercial motor vehicles are comprised of components that work together to slow and stop the vehicle and brake hoses/tubing are essential for the proper operation of those systems. Brake hoses/tubing must be properly attached, undamaged, without leaks and appropriately flexible. Brake hoses/tubing are an important part of the braking system so when they do fail, they can cause problems for the rest of the braking system.

See the complete release from CVSA online.

Lamont threatens to clamp down on borrowing if tolls not approved

From CT Mirror.

Gov. Ned Lamont threatened Wednesday to clamp down on state borrowing if legislators can’t agree in special session this summer on a plan to toll Connecticut’s major highways.

The governor, who made his comments during and after the State Bond Commission meeting, also said he’d consider shifting more borrowing capacity away from non-transportation initiatives to support Connecticut’s highways, bridges and rail lines.

“If that’s the case, we’re going to have to be very selective about what we do going forward,” Lamont said during the meeting.

“We cannot afford to do a lot of these other items if we put all that money into transportation,” he added afterward.

Lamont, who pledged during the campaign to support tolling only on large trucks, reversed himself in February and has since pressed for tolls on all vehicles to repair Connecticut’s aging, overcrowded infrastructure.

See the complete article from CT Mirror online.

Republicans criticize Democrats for changing tax projections

From CT News Junkie.

Republican Senate Leader Len Fasano held a press conference Tuesday to complain that the two-year $43.35 billion budget, which Gov. Ned Lamont received yesterday, increased projected tax receipts beyond consensus revenue.

Consensus revenue was passed a decade ago to make sure the governor’s Office of Policy and Management and the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis agreed on the revenue figures they would use to put together a budget. The legislation that requires them to do that was passed in 2009 when then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell failed to recognize the full extent of the budget deficit. Every year since then the consensus revenue figures are agreed to three times a year by the two branches of government — on Nov. 10, Jan. 15 and April 30.

On Tuesday, Fasano said the budget the General Assembly sent to Lamont earlier this month contains $180 million more revenue over the next two years than anticipated by the April 30 consensus revenue figures.

OPM Secretary Melissa McCaw said that’s because they anticipated an increase in the withholding portion of the personal income tax. The consensus revenue estimate anticipated a 4% increase, but the budget assumes a 5.5% increase.

See the complete article from CT News Junkie online.

Connecticut Legislature recap for 2019 session

Below is a summary of some of the major legislative issues that MTAC worked on in 2019. Contact Joe Sculley directly if you have any questions on these, or any other legislative or regulatory issues.

Tolls

MTAC has been leading the fight against efforts to establish congestion-price tolls on existing interstate highways, which has never been done by any state in the U.S. Tolling legislation did pass the Transportation Committee and the Finance Committee, as it did in past years, but it did not pass the House of Representatives or the Senate. There is talk of a special legislative session for the purpose of transportation funding, and more specifically, for voting to approve tolls. A specific date has not been set at this time. Just because there are calls for a legislative session to vote for tolls, does not necessarily mean that it is guaranteed to happen.

Earlier this year, a number of MTAC members sat down to talk about the costs and negative impacts that tolls would place on their businesses. The video produced from the conversations had that day is posted on YouTube and has been shared with every member of the legislature. Feel free to view the video once again, share with anyone, and post on your social media accounts.

$10 Towing Surcharge: Raised Bill 866

MTAC President Joe Sculley testified in opposition to a bill that would add a $10 surcharge on to the cost of a non-consensual tow, which in theory would be used to reimburse towers for the cost of abandoned vehicles involved in non-consensual tows.

The bill was an attempt to circumvent the regulation of rates for non-consensual tows. The regulation of non-consensual tows is an important aspect of consumer protection for both individuals and small businesses who own and operate vehicles. Without this, towers have been known to charge tens of thousands of dollars for non-consensual tows and subsequent storage. It should be noted that this type of situation is sometimes the cause of an abandoned vehicle, whether it be a passenger vehicle, or commercial motor vehicle or commercial trailer.

This bill died in the Transportation Committee.

GPS Mandate: HB 5365

MTAC President Joe Sculley testified in opposition to a bill that would require truck-specific GPS devices to be in use on all trucks with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds.

Sculley’s testimony said the bill was likely introduced in response to trucks driving through no-through truck zones in certain municipalities. He said that MTAC has met with state and local leaders in certain municipalities where violations of no through truck restrictions have occurred. MTAC has urged that local law enforcement (as well as any state enforcement agency with proper jurisdiction) enforce any alleged violation of no through truck restrictions which are authorized by state law. Town leaders have plainly stated to MTAC that they will not do that. MTAC questioned how a GPS mandate would be enforced, considering that a no through truck restriction is not able to be enforced.

This bill died in the Transportation Committee.

Age Discrimination: HB 6113

MTAC President Joe Sculley submitted testimony in response to a bill which would prohibit employers from inquiring about the date of birth on employment applications.

The testimony explained that federal regulation (49 CFR 391.21) requires that employers ask applicants for commercial truck driving jobs about their date of birth.

MTAC requested that the bill be amended to include a provision which recognizes this federal regulation, and exempts any employer who is subject to this requirement from the proposed prohibition on date of birth inquiry.

The bill was subsequently amended to allow for a date of birth inquiry “in the case of a bona fide occupational qualification or need.” The bill was going to be further amended with stronger language which would have said that the prohibition “shall not apply to any employer requesting or requiring such information based on a bona fide occupational qualification or need, or when such information is required in order to comply with any provision of federal or state law,” but the bill was ultimately not taken up by the House of Representatives.

Rest Areas: SB 713 An Act Concerning Open Rest Areas

MTAC President Joe Sculley testified in support of a bill which would fully fund Connecticut’s state-owned rest areas.

Sculley explained that funding has been cut so that the rest areas are only staffed from 8:30am to 3:30pm. The buildings are locked at all other times, and there is no staff around. However, truck drivers need to take breaks at all hours of the day in order to comply with federal Hours of Service regulations. Full funding for state-owned rest areas so that they are all staffed 24 hours per day is important for the trucking industry. He pointed out that at the time the funding for rest areas was cut, news reports stated that it would save the state $2 million per year, but based on this year’s budget figures, that amount is only 0.1% of the Special Transportation Fund budget.

MTAC has been told that the money to fully fund rest areas was included in ConnDOT’s agency budget, meaning that the rest areas should return to full operation.

Connecticut Infrastructure Bank: SB 70

MTAC President Joe Sculley testified on a bill which would create a Connecticut Infrastructure Bank.

Sculley explained that MTAC is not necessarily opposed to the concept of an Infrastructure Bank. However, he suggested that the issue should be studied further before the legislature votes to create the proposed Bank.

Sculley said that the proposal would “finance a loan program with funds appropriated from the Special Transportation Fund or other sources of revenue designated for infrastructure improvements,” and he pointed out that the recently-enacted Constitutional lockbox requires that transportation revenue be deposited into the Special Transportation Fund.

The bill was amended in the Senate to (in theory) address concerns regarding the transportation lockbox. However, it was pointed out by some legislators that the legislature can still change the law regarding what funds are deposited into the Special Transportation Fund (the lockbox). Additionally, the proposed Infrastructure Bank would be “raid-able,” much like the Green Bank, to which Infrastructure Bank proponents often compare it.

This bill ultimately died because it was never taken up by the House of Representatives.

Truck Dealer Registrations: HB 6771

During the legislative session, MTAC had representatives from dealer members testify before the Transportation Committee in support of HB 6771, which would allow commercial truck dealers to process registrations for new CMVs weighing up to 80,000 pounds.

Jim Rizzo from Gabrielli Trucks said, in part, “Currently, we are only allowed to issue registrations and transfer plates for commercial vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of up to and including 26,000 lbs. Vehicles above this capacity rating require the same documentation. What dealers are seeking, through the passage of this bill, is the ability to issue registrations and transfer plates for commercial vehicles above the 26,000 lb. GVWR and up to the maximum GVWR of 80,000 lbs. which would include straight trucks and tractors.

Luis Tejada from Freightliner of Hartford said, in part, “Since the bulk of our sales involve vehicles over this weight class, all of our current Motor Vehicle transactions must be done in person at any of the Connecticut DMV branches. I can’t tell you the man hours this task requires on a regular basis.”

The bill did not ultimately advance. CT DMV says that legislation is not necessary to accomplish this change, it can be done administratively. MTAC looks forward to the opportunity to work with CT DMV to work towards this change.

Motor Carrier Eligibility for State Contracts

MTAC has been pushing for legislation that would address the arbitrary standard used by CT DMV for evaluating current or prospective motor carriers who have or are pursuing state contracts. The current standard is not based on anything in statute, or regulation, or Executive Oder.

A provision was included in SB 924 which states: “The Commissioners of Administrative Services and Motor Vehicles shall jointly study the current system used to evaluate motor carriers that provide or seek to provide commercial motor vehicle services to the state or any municipality and make recommendations to make such system more efficient. Not later than January 1, 2020, the commissioners shall submit a report of the results of such study to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to transportation, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes.”

MTAC will attempt to work with all appropriate state agencies as this issue is studied, in order to work towards a more reasonable standard.

Marijuana — Raised Bill 1089 An Act Concerning Cannabis and the Workplace

MTAC President Joe Sculley testified on legislation to legalize recreational marijuana. The testimony stated that MTAC is not necessarily opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana. However, Commercial Driver’s License holders operating Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) are required by federal regulation to be tested for controlled substances (drugs and alcohol), per 49 CFR Part 382 – CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES AND ALCOHOL USE AND TESTING. This will still be the case even if Connecticut legalizes recreational marijuana.

The testimony suggested that the legislation refer to federal regulations and provide protection for the employer who complies as required. Employers should not be penalized by the state in any way if they are forced to take action against an employee for simply acting in accordance with federal regulations.

Marijuana legalization legislation did not pass this year, but will likely be debated again in the future.

Wine Shipments to Consumers

One section of SB 647, known as “An Act Streamlining the Liquor Control Act,” deals with reports to be filed by common carriers regarding their deliveries to consumers in Connecticut of packages containing wine. MTAC was heavily involved in working to make sure the language of that particular section was something that was workable for the common carriers.

The result of Section 11 of the bill is that the shipper must properly label the package as containing alcohol; the carriers will retain records of such deliveries for no more than 18 months; the common carriers shall file reports regarding such deliveries when requested by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection or the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services; there are no financial penalties imposed on the common carriers, other than a potential suspension or revocation of their in-state transporter’s permit in the event that a common carrier “fails to keep records, refuses to respond or fails to provide such records to the requesting agency as required.”

SB 647 has been passed and signed into law.

Vaping Legislation: HB 7200

HB 7200 did many things, including raising the legal smoking (and vaping) age to 21 years old. The bill, which was passed and signed into law, contains a provision mandating that a signature of someone who is 21 years of age or older be obtained when vaping products ordered online are delivered to a consumer. MTAC was involved with crafting this provision to be sure it was something that was workable for carriers who may be involved with making deliveries of such products.

Wilson Elser seminar covers required sexual harassment prevention training

A new law passed this year by the Connecticut General Assembly mandates sexual harassment prevention training for nearly every employer in the state. The new law requires that businesses with three or more employees provide sexual harassment prevention training to every employee.

MTAC is pleased to announce that our partner, the Wilson Elser law firm, will conduct a training class which covers this issue free of charge at the MTAC building on July 18 from 10 a.m. to Noon.

The training class will cover what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace, what to do if you experience or witness harassment, the potential penalties if the company or supervisor are found liable of harassment, and strategies to prevent harassment in the workplace. The training will also touch on harassment related to other protected characteristics like race, color, age, religion, or disability to name a few.

Business owners, CEOs, HR managers, and supervisors are some of the people who should consider attending this class. The bottom line is that not knowing what sexual harassment is or how to deal with it exposes employers to potential litigation and supervisors to individual liability.

Attend this class in order to learn the basics on how to ensure your business has an appropriate workplace culture that is free of any type of harassment.

Training to be presented by:

Register for the class on the MTAC website.

ELD FAQs updated

From FMCSA.

Recently, FMCSA made the following updates to the ELD Frequently Asked Questions. The question below has been revised (updates are in bold).

What must a driver do if there is an electronic logging device (ELD) malfunction?
If an ELD malfunctions, a driver must:

  1. Note the malfunction of the ELD and provide written notice of the malfunction to the motor carrier within 24 hours;
  2. Reconstruct the record of duty status (RODS) for the current 24-hour period and the previous 7 consecutive days, and record the records of duty status on graph-grid paper logs, or electronic logging software, that comply with 49 CFR 395.8, unless the driver already has the records or retrieves them from the ELD; and
  3. Continue to manually prepare RODS in accordance with 49 CFR 395.8 until the ELD is serviced and back in compliance. The recording of the driver’s hours of service on a paper log, or electronic logging software, cannot continue for more than 8 days after the malfunction; a driver that continues to record his or her hours of service on a paper log, or electronic logging software, beyond 8 days risk being placed out of service.

The question below is a new addition to the ELD FAQs:

When should a driver use paper logs or electronic logging software if an ELD malfunction occurs?
A driver should only use paper logs, or electronic logging software, or other electronic means to record their HOS if the ELD malfunction hinders the accurate recording of the driver’s hours-of-service data (i.e., 10/11, 14/15, 60/70 hours; or 30 minute).

Read more about ELD Frequently Asked Questions, or visit the FMCSA ELD Website.

XPO’s Ernie Budlowski drives straight to Connecticut Grand Champion title

From Transport Topics.

Ernie Budlowski of XPO Logistics drove straight to the Straight Truck title en route to claiming Grand Champion honors in the Connecticut Truck Driving Championships in Windsor Locks on June 8.

Budlowski will be joined by eight other class winners at the National Truck Driving Championships in Pittsburgh on Aug. 14-17. Last year’s Grand Champion was Mark McClure, who competed for the second straight year in 5-Axle after winning Sleeper Berth in 2016-17.

Tony Spero of ArcBest Freight posted the highest written score and also won the Flatbed class.

See the complete article (and list of winner) from Transport Topics online.

FMCSA PSP monitoring service now available

Message from FMCSA.

The Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) added a new service to help drivers keep track of changes to their PSP records.

Your PSP record contains FMCSA-reportable crash and roadside inspection information. PSP records are updated about once a month, and safety information could be added to or removed from your record during the process.

With the free monitoring service, you can ask PSP to notify you every time your record changes. The monitoring service will automatically email you and add a message to your PSP account dashboard when your record changes.

Ready to sign up?

  • Log into your PSP account and click the “Enroll in PSP Monitoring” button on your dashboard. You can unsubscribe anytime.
  • Any questions? Email us at PSPHelp@egov.com or call 877-642-9499 from Monday – Thursday, 8AM – 6PM ET or Friday, 8AM – 5PM ET.

Sincerely,
Pre-Employment Screening Program

Rebuttal: Connecticut DOT does not have a car culture

Op Ed in CT Mirror by MTAC President Joe Sculley.

In his May 30 submission, Robert Hale of New Haven submits that Connecticut DOT “remains wedded to investment decisions that prioritize private vehicle use instead of transit.” The fact that 64 percent of the ConnDOT operating budget is eaten up by transit subsidies (even though only about 5 percent of Connecticut commuters take transit to work) says otherwise.

The money for these transit subsidies comes mostly from fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees – things paid by owners and operators of motor vehicles. These vehicle operators are led to believe that these taxes and fees are paid for the privilege of using the roads and bridges they drive on, and in return, the money will be reinvested into said roads and bridges. Instead, the money is spent on transit (or other non-road purposes).

That hardly seems like a car-centric approach to transportation. This is also one of the main reasons for the push for tolls, but I digress.

Hale writes regarding the Hartford line railroad that “the schedule still contains several two-hour gaps and a four-hour gap in northbound service during the midday.” Has he considered that the reason for that could be a lack of ridership? Why should trains or buses be run if there are little to no riders? After all, at an April 4, 2019 Office of Policy and Management Finance Advisory Committee meeting, ConnDOT representatives stated that statewide transit ridership has declined by about 6 percent. This is consistent with a national trend, and helps explain all the empty transit buses I see driving around the Greater Hartford area.

See the complete Op Ed by Joe Sculley in the CT Mirror online.

TFI closes Highland Transport subsidiary

Excerpt from Transport Topics.

TFI International Inc. is closing its 150-truck Highland Transport division, a possible sign of softness in the Northeast freight market, according to a TFI official.

A trucking official in New England blamed some of the freight problems on people and businesses fleeing the Northeast because of taxes and regulations. Joseph Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, said state government leaders have failed to keep businesses and residents in the state.

Bloomberg News ranks Connecticut as No. 1 in outward migration of income in the Northeast.

Bloomberg’s analysis of state-to-state moves, based on 2017 data from the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Census Bureau, found Connecticut lost the equivalent of 1.6% of its annual adjusted gross income, or $2.6 billion. (Those moving out of the Connecticut had an average income of $122,000, which was 26% higher than those migrating in.)

The combination of fewer businesses and fewer residents creates a “smaller universe” in which to do freight business, Sculley said.

Following Connecticut in the Northeast were New York and New Jersey, ranking Nos. 5 and 7, respectively. New York lost $8.4 billion in income, or 1.1% of its annual adjusted gross income. New Jersey lost $3.43 billion in income, or 0.93% of its annual adjusted gross income, according to Bloomberg.

For that reason, for about a year, members of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut have been telling Sculley that while the national freight market looks strong, they “have not noticed the same trends within the state of Connecticut.”

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.