Connecticut Legislature going overtime to approve budget

From Transport Topics.

Knowing that they wouldn’t be able to approve a budget before the midnight May 4 deadline despite reaching a tentative, $19.75 billion agreement with Gov. Dannel Malloy the previous day, Connecticut lawmakers voted to schedule special sessions to do so. The Senate will reconvene May 12. The House has yet to set a date to vote on a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

“As a matter of democracy and fairness to all the members of the House, it is not possible to do a budget this evening,” Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) and Senate Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz said in a joint statement. “The time it took to reach an agreement, combined with the challenge of staff to physically get a printed bill to the floor, and then achieve passage, would likely require a cutoff of discussions.

“That scenario would not be fair for the purpose of allowing a complete and reasonable debate, and at this point would be a disservice to House members and the public they represent to move forward tonight.”

Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, told Transport Topics that his group opposes the Legislature’s proposed $50 million cuts to the state’s transportation fund.

“The governor had pledged that taxes and fees would not be increased until we had a [constitutional] lockbox, and we don’t have one, but there are increases in oversize and overweight permit fees [for trucks] in the budget,” said Sculley, who added that Connecticut devotes the lowest share of its highway user fees to roads than any other state.

Warehouse Contract webinar on May 12

The Scopelitis Law Firm is hosting a free webinar to discuss warehouse contract terms. The firm will share some of the most contested terms and how they respond to depositors’ requests to make changes. The webinar will be held on Thursday, May 12 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 pm.

Scopelitis has stated that MTAC members may participate free of charge. Register for the webinar online.

Route 8 construction set for parts of June and July

Some MTAC members may already be aware of construction on Route 8 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. For those who might not know, in general the project involves the replacement of the superstructures (beams and concrete decks) of several bridges on Route 8/25, approximately two miles north of Interstate 95.

The bridges carry Route 8/25 over Lindley Street and Capitol Avenue. There are two bridges at each location (one northbound and one southbound), separated by a median. As part of this project, they will be replaced in two phases.

During the first phase – scheduled for June 11-25 – the southbound bridges will be replaced. During this phase you should expect that:

  • Northbound traffic on Route 8 will be reduced to two lanes.
  • Southbound traffic on Route 8 will be reduced to three lanes and shifted onto the northbound barrel of the highway.

Upon completion of the southbound bridge replacement, traffic flows will return to normal for approximately three weeks. A second phase – scheduled for July 16-30 – will allow the replacement of the northbound bridges. During this phase you should expect that:

  • Southbound traffic on Route 8 will be reduced to two lanes.
  • Northbound traffic on Route 8 will be reduced to three lanes and shifted onto the southbound barrel of the highway.

DOT has also advised that the Exit 4 off ramp may be closed prior to the start of the first lane shift, and the Exit 5 on ramp will be closed in conjunction with the first lane shift.

MTAC members should visit a website that has been created for this project, sign up to receive email updates, and review detour maps.

Hours of Service update

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously passed its Fiscal Year 2017 funding bill for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Included in the comprehensive legislation is a technical correction to the suspension of the July 2013 restrictions on the use of the 34-hour restart, ensuring that the 34-hour restart remains in place.

The Senate language addresses a legislative drafting error from last year’s omnibus spending bill, which could unintentionally eliminate the entire 34-hour restart when the Secretary of Transportation submits the final HOS restart study to Congress. Additionally, the Senate language also places a cap on weekly working hours at 73 hours in a 7-day period. Following this action, the bill will next go to the Senate floor for consideration.

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to act on their own transportation funding bill in the coming weeks.

MTAC visits Whelen Engineering

Last week, MTAC President Joe Sculley visited member company Whelen Engineering. Whelen’s goal is to bring innovative, life-saving products to market more quickly while maintaining strict quality control throughout the process. They have accomplished this through a vertical manufacturing initiative to eliminate or reduce out-sourcing; the use of robotics and state-of-the-art production equipment; and, perhaps most importantly, a motivated workforce of over 1,100 employees. This allows Whelen to meet and adapt to their customer’s changing needs in the shortest amount of time.

Many thanks to Rick Alexander at Whelen Engineering for the warm welcome and detailed tour of the facility in Chester, Conn.

MTAC Annual Directory

MTAC’s publishing partner, E&M Consulting, is currently at work on the publication of the annual membership directory. If there have been any changes to your contact information since last year’s directory was published, please call the MTAC office to have your information updated prior to publishing the directory. We receive calls from members every year after the directory is mailed out, telling us that we have incorrect information. Please take a few minutes and compare the 2015 directory with your current information.

In the next few weeks, E&M Consulting will be contacting members with advertising opportunities. If you have any interest in advertising this year, please contact a sales associate at E&M by calling (800) 572-0011. They are very professional and produce a high quality directory.

Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions. Your support of MTAC is greatly appreciated.

FMCSA Certified Medical Examination forms

As a follow up to our post from Feb. 4, Certified Medical Examiners must now use the “new” revised Medical Long Form (MCSA-5875) and Medical Examination Certification (med card) (MCSA-5876). The “old” forms cannot be used any longer.

As a reminder, MTAC has the new Certified Medical Examination forms available for sale, so contact the office if you need to purchase them.

New York Highway Use Tax fee reduction

This information submitted by the New York State Motor Truck Association.

As of April 13, 2016, registering a truck for Highway Use Tax (HUT) will cost $1.50 per truck. As part of the recently enacted New York State budget, the $15 HUT Certificate of Registration fee and the $4 HUT decal fee have been eliminated. Those fees have been replaced by a $1.50 per truck administration fee.

Additionally, New York’s online registration system, One Stop Credentialing and Registration (OSCAR), is now open for all motor carriers. The change comes as a result of a recent court decision which found the Certificate of Registration and decal fees to be unconstitutional.

NYSMTA views this change as a first step toward achieving the overall goal of eliminating the HUT entirely. If you have any questions regarding the change, please contact Kendra at (518) 458-9696.

Sanitary Transportation of Food Rule

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week issued its final rule establishing new requirements for the sanitary transportation of human and animal food by truck and rail, to guard against food contamination. The rule obligates shippers, loaders, rail and motor carriers and receivers engaged in food transportation and freight brokers when they initiate food shipments. It also addresses requirements for training, records and waivers.

Transport Topics has posted a review of the final rule.

CVSA Roadcheck – Focus on Tires

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) 29th annual International Roadcheck will take place June 7-9, 2016. International Roadcheck is a 72-hour period when approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial, territorial and federal inspectors in jurisdictions across North America perform large truck and bus safety inspections.

International Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles in the world, with nearly 17 trucks or buses inspected, on average, every minute in Canada, the United States and Mexico during a 72-hour period. During the annual three-day event, CVSA-certified inspectors conduct compliance, enforcement and educational initiatives targeted at various elements of motor carrier, vehicle and driver safety.

Each year, International Roadcheck places special emphasis on a category of violations. The special emphasis for 2016 International Roadcheck is tire safety (i.e., measuring the tire tread depth, checking the tire pressure, checking to make sure that no items are lodged between dual tires and examining the overall condition of the tire to make sure that no deep cuts or bulges exist in the sidewalls of the tire).

See the full article announcing CVSA’s 2016 Road Check.