FMCSA extends Emergency Declaration and Hours of Service Waiver

From FMCSA.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hereby declares that a nationwide emergency continues to exist that warrants extension and expansion of Emergency Declaration No. 2020002 issued on March 13, 2020, and expanded on March 26, 2020, and continuing the exemption granted from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for the fifty States and the District of Columbia. This Declaration extends the exemption through May 15, 2020, and further expands the relief expressly to cover liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems.

The extension of Emergency Declaration 2020-002 provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, including transportation to meet immediate needs for:

  1. medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
  2. 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;
  3. food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores;
  4. immediate precursor raw materials — such as paper, plastic or alcohol — that are required and to be used for the manufacture of items in categories (1), (2) or (3);
  5. fuel;
  6. liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems;
  7. equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19;
  8. persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes; and
  9. persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.

Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.

The complete announcement from FMCSA is available online.

WTNH Video: Food still being delivered across the nation during pandemic

From WTNH.

Tony Spero from ABF Freight, who is a previous grand champion of the Connecticut Truck Driving Championship, as well as the National Truck Driving Championship, was featured in this video report.

Click here to see an archived version of the report.

Gov Lamont releases safe workplace rules for essential employers

On the evening of Tuesday, April 7, Governor Lamont signed an Executive Order directing the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, in consultation with the Commissioner of Public Health, to issue legally binding statewide rules prescribing measures for workplaces to protect against the spread of COVID-19. The Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) has issued the rules, which include:

Guidelines for essential employees

  • Employees who are ill should stay home.
  • Where possible, employees should take their temperature before they go to work. If they have a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, they should stay home.
  • Make hand sanitizer available to employees who do not have ready access to soap and water.
  • Place posters that encourage hand hygiene to help stop the spread at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.
  • Whether at work or at home, all employees are advised to follow the CDC guidelines for preventing transmission of COVID-19 including:
    • Washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching mouth and nose, avoiding close contact with others, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, using cough and sneeze etiquette, and staying at home when sick.
    • Employees should not touch their face and should use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19.

The complete release of rules from Governor Lamont and DECD is available online.

Members are encouraged to view the complete release, because it also includes information regarding the following: controlling contact between employees and other employees or customers, eliminating transmission points, guidelines for employees who had close contact with a person with symptoms of or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, guidelines for workplace illness, and additional rules specific to construction sites.

TSA releases HME exemption

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is granting a temporary exemption from requirements in 49 CFR part 1572 regarding expiration of TSA security threat assessments (STAs) for Hazardous Material Endorsement (HME) holders. For the duration of this exemption, a State may grant an extension of up to 180 days for an HME that expired or would otherwise expire between March 1, 2020 and the end date of this exemption, even if the individual was unable to initiate or complete the required STA before the expiration date.

If the state grants an extension, the individual with an expired HME must initiate the process of renewing his or her STA for an HME no later than 60 days before the end of the State-granted extension. TSA may extend this exemption at a future date depending on the status of the COVID-19 crisis.

Paycheck Protection Program application now available

The application for the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been posted online.

A summary provided by the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship states that the program would provide cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If employers maintain their payroll, the loans would be forgiven, which would help workers remain employed, as well as help affected small businesses and our economy snap-back quicker after the crisis.

PPP has a host of attractive features, such as forgiveness of up to 8 weeks of payroll based on employee retention and salary levels, no SBA fees, and at least six months of deferral with maximum deferrals of up to a year. Small businesses and other eligible entities will be able to apply if they were harmed by COVID-19 between Feb. 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. This program would be retroactive to February 15, 2020, in order to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls. Loans are available through June 30, 2020.

While the program is “live” as of today, it is expected that most lenders will be ready to go next week. It is advised that members to go to their own bank and those banks that are already 7(a) lenders, because they will likely be ready to lend under this program faster than other banks. However, all FDIC institutions will be brought into the program in the near future. Members interested in the PPP should apply as early as possible.

Members should review an overview of the PPP from the U.S. Treasury online and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) literature from the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Extension of compliance period for 2020 UCR in Connecticut

From CT DMV.

The Unified Carrier Registration Plan (UCR) has announced that it is recommending a delay, until July 1, 2020, for the enforcement of UCR registration for 2020. This recommendation is based upon the delay in the rulemaking process for establishing 2020 carrier rates, along with the current COVID 19 crisis.

Based upon UCR’s recommendation, the State of Connecticut will extend the compliance period for 2020 UCR registration until July 1, 2020. After July 1, enforcement action will begin for carriers that have not registered for 2020. This extension shall not apply to any registration year prior to 2020.

This notice applies to all motor carriers (for-hire, private and exempt) as well as brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies operating in interstate and international commerce that are required to register under UCR.

The notice is available as a PDF from the Connecticut DMV.

Small business owner’s guide to CARES Act

From US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

The programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was just passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.

To keep up to date on when these programs become available, please stay in contact with your local Small Business Administration (SBA) District Office, which you can locate here.

Struggling to get started? The following questions might help point you in the right direction. Do you need:

  • Capital to cover the cost of retaining employees? Then the Paycheck Protection Program might be right for you.
  • A quick infusion of a smaller amount of cash to cover you right now? You might want to look into an Emergency Economic Injury Grant.
  • To ease your fears about keeping up with payments on your current or potential SBA loan? The Small Business Debt Relief Program could help.
  • Just some quality, free counseling to help you navigate this uncertain economic time? The resource partners might be your best bet.

See the complete document from the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship online.

Connecticut Resources

DRS extends filing deadline for certain annual state business tax returns

From Connecticut Department of Revenue Services.

The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) is using their statutory authority to grant an automatic extension of Connecticut filing deadlines for certain annual tax returns in order to support businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak effectively immediately. This is consistent with the emergency declarations signed by Governor Lamont.

“DRS understands some business taxpayers may find it difficult to meet tomorrow’s state tax filing deadline, given current circumstances,” said Commissioner Biello. “This extension is designed to support these taxpayers, and tax practitioners, meet their responsibility to file returns and remit payments. DRS encourages those with questions specific to their own, individual circumstances to call or e-mail the agency.”

Acting Commissioner of Revenue Services John Biello is exercising this authority under Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-2(a)(5).

Effective immediately, the filing deadlines for certain annual tax returns due on or after March 15, 2020, and before June 1, 2020, are extended by at least 30 days. In addition, the payments associated with these returns are also extended to the corresponding due date in June.

The impacted returns and the associated filing dates and payment deadlines are set forth below…

See the complete release from DRS online.

Truckers working long shifts to get product back on store shelves

From WFSB.

MTAC President Joe Sculley was featured in this video report which originally aired on March 28, 2020.

An archived version of the broadcast is available online.

Modifications to SBA Bridge Loan Program

Today the Small Business Administration (SBA) published a notice expanding eligibility for its Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program (Express Bridge Pilot) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As originally announced in October 2017, the Express Bridge Pilot authorizes certain SBA lenders to provide expedited SBA-guaranteed bridge loan financing on an emergency basis in amounts up to $25,000 for disaster-related purposes to small businesses located in communities affected by Presidentially-declared disasters while those small businesses apply for and await long-term financing (including through the SBA’s direct Disaster Loan Program).

Per this notice, the SBA has expanded eligibility for the Express Bridge Pilot to include small businesses nationwide adversely impacted under the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration issued by President Trump on March 13, 2020. Because the President’s COVID-19 Emergency Declaration covers all states, territories, and the District of Columbia, eligible small businesses under the Express Bridge Pilot will now include small businesses located in any state, territory, and the District of Columbia that have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. The SBA notes that previously, those small businesses would not be eligible for Express Bridge Pilot loans because the program was limited to eligible small businesses located in “Primary Counties” that have been Presidentially-declared as major disaster areas, plus any “Contiguous Counties.’

In addition, the SBA is revising program requirements to allow Express Bridge Pilot loans made under the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration to be approved through March 13, 2021. This is a revision to the previous policy that only allowed Express Bridge Pilot loans to be made up to six months after the date of the applicable Presidential disaster declaration. Finally, the SBA is extending the term of the Express Bridge Pilot from September 30, 2020 to March 13, 2021 to assist small businesses that may experience delayed effects resulting from the COVID-19 emergency to benefit from the Express Bridge Pilot and to allow SBA to continue its evaluation of the program.