Conn. DMV announces improvements to Dealer Registration System

The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is announcing some MTAC-supported improvements to its system which allows commercial truck dealers to perform certain registrations in-house, rather than having to physically go to the DMV.

The DMV will now allow dealers to register commercial (non-IRP) trucks with a (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) as high as 73,000 pounds. The previous limit was 67,400 pounds. Additionally, new changes made by DMV will give dealers the ability to change the declared weight of the vehicle they are registering. For example, a manufacturer might rate a truck for a maximum GVWR of 100,000 pounds, but a dealer – knowing that their customer will only legally operate the truck at 70,000 pounds GVWR – can now register the truck in-house at a declared weight of 70,000 pounds GVWR.

A second example could be a truck rated by the manufacturer for 73,000 pounds GVWR is only registered by the dealer (for use by the customer) at a declared weight of 55,000 pounds GVWR. This is a common practice which has previously been conducted during in-person transactions at the DMV. MTAC members need to be aware that the declared weight must be at least 500 pounds more than the “light weight” of the vehicle.

The DMV is also testing additional changes to their system which would give out-of-state dealers the ability to register vehicles in-house. If successful, this system would also allow large companies with national operations to register their own vehicles in-house, as a dealer would. MTAC will keep members updated on developments with this initiative.

MTAC would like to thank DMV Commissioner Magubane and her leadership team for implementing these pro-business improvements at DMV.

Senators Haskell and Kasser file new tolls bill for 2021

From Yankee Institute.

Senators Will Haskell, D-Westport, and Alexandra Kasser, D-Greenwich, have filed a bill authorizing the Department of Transportation to install electronic tolls on Connecticut’s interstate highways and parts of Route 15.

The debate over tolls was put to rest in late 2019 after Gov. Ned Lamont and Democrat leaders couldn’t reach an agreement, but with Democrats gaining an even larger majority in both chambers and the loss of revenue due to the pandemic, the table for whether tolls can be passed in Connecticut could be reset.

The Special Transportation Fund went from having a projected positive balance to a $21.5 million deficit by 2024, according to the Office of Fiscal Analysis, as the number of drivers plummeted during the pandemic leading to less gasoline tax revenue.

Both Kasser and Haskell had said they would continue to support tolling highways over the summer, even as former Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz said that tolls would never happen in Connecticut.

Whether Lamont or Democrat leaders will have an appetite to return to the tolls debate remains to be seen.

See the complete article from Yankee Institute online.

Panel recommends vaccinations for everyone over 65-years-old

From CT News Junkie.

A Connecticut advisory panel added everyone over the age of 65 and any adult with one federally-defined medical condition to its guidelines for the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout Tuesday.

As the allocations subcommittee of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group kicked off its virtual meeting, some members were distracted by an “elephant in the room.” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was in the process of shifting federal guidelines for the next phase of the vaccine rollout. The Trump administration was backing a plan to open up the next round of vaccinations to people 65 or older and people with comorbidities defined by the Centers for Disease Control.

By the end of the hour-long meeting, the state panel adopted similar recommendations, adding the two large new populations to the group’s existing guidelines, which already included residents of congregate settings like prisons and frontline workers. Earlier this month, the advisory panel estimated Phase 1b included more than 800,000 people. One member estimated Tuesday’s addition adds another 720,000 residents to that group.

See the complete article from CT News Junkie online.

‘Clean’ truck regs, strong rate environment likely for 2021

From Fleet Owner.

Outside of the regulations coming out of the incoming Biden-led Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration after the Jan. 20 U.S. presidential inauguration, industry stakeholders are paying close attention to environmental initiatives that could impact commercial trucking. Analysts are also projecting continued growth and a favorable rate environment for trucking companies throughout 2021.

President-elect Joe Biden has made it a point that his administration will focus on creating a pathway to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050. And with an incoming super majority, as Democrats gained control of the House, Senate, and White House, Biden should have very minor roadblocks—if any—when it comes to implementing his environmental agenda.

See the complete article from Fleet Owner online.

Department of Labor issues final rule on independent contractor status

From Transport Topics.

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a final rule revising its interpretation of independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act that it said will “promote certainty for stakeholders, reduce litigation and encourage innovation in the economy.”

The final rule explains that independent contractors are workers who, as a matter of economic reality, are in business for themselves as opposed to being economically dependent on the potential employer for work.

“The rule sharpens this inquiry into five distinct factors, instead of the five or more overlapping factors used by most courts and previously the department,” the agency announced in a prepublication post on Jan. 6.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

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.