UCR fees may decrease for 2018 – UPDATE

By Bob Pitcher, State Laws Newsletter.

A few weeks ago, we reported that there was a good chance that the fees imposed under the Unified Carrier Registration Agreement would decrease for 2018, because the UCR program has collected more revenue from carriers and other entities than the participating states are entitled to.

At the time, we suggested that the decrease might be in the neighborhood of 4 percent. In the interim, however, we realized that such a decrease would only serve to prevent the continued collection of surplus UCR revenues, and would not compensate carriers for the fees they had already overpaid. We brought this to the attention of the UCR Board of Directors and it now appears that the decrease in fees next year may be more on the order of 8.3 percent. That would take a UCR fee at the lowest level from $76 to $70, and at the highest from some $76,000 to some $70,000.

There may have to be a slight offsetting increase in the fees for 2019, but the complexities here have yet to be worked out fully. It also appears at this point that the U.S. Department of Transportation, which has to approve the decrease, may in fact be able to do so in time for the change to take effect this fall.

MTAC visits All Waste

This week, MTAC President Joe Sculley visited member company All Waste, and spoke to company employees at their quarterly safety meeting.

All Waste, Inc. is one of the largest privately held solid waste and recycling companies in Connecticut. Their approximately 130 employees are dedicated to serving the personal and business needs of their commercial, industrial, municipal and residential customers. Collectively, their management team has well over 100 years of industry knowledge and experience.

Providing superior customer service is All Waste’s top priority, and they make sure to promptly respond to customer questions and concerns, never leaving them on hold and returning calls and emails in the same day whenever possible. All Waste believes in personalized service and does not use automated answering systems.

Be sure to check out All Waste’s website. If you need contact info for All State, contact the MTAC office.

REMINDER: Trucking Industry Gives survey

This is a friendly reminder to MTAC members to complete this ATRI survey regarding charitable giving. MTAC is working with ATA to positively change public perception of the trucking industry, and being able to tell the story about how members support their community will go a long way towards accomplishing that. All responses will be kept confidential, so please complete this survey.

Each and every day, trucking moves America forward, delivering more than 70% of the nation’s freight. But the trucking industry’s support of our local communities goes beyond the goods we deliver. The trucking industry gives, and gives big, to charitable organizations across the country.

The American Trucking Associations has commissioned the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) to survey the industry to quantify how much trucking gives to charity each year, and to identify what types of charities the industry supports, so that we can better tell the story of how we move America forward.

Please take a few minutes to complete the confidential survey below to add your charitable giving to the trucking industry’s total for 2016.

All responses to this survey will be kept strictly confidential and will only be reported in aggregate form. Due to the sensitivity of this research, under NO circumstances will ATRI release any of your personal or organizational information.

Pelosi, Democrats willing to work with Trump on infrastructure

Excerpt from Transport Topics article:

House Democrats could find common ground with President Trump on infrastructure as long as the president unveils a “real infrastructure” bill, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Meet the Press on Feb. 5.

“If we can talk about job creation and infrastructure legislation that’s a real infrastructure bill and not a tax break for his rich friends, then there’s something we can talk about,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Chuck Todd, the show’s host.

Pelosi has repeatedly called on Trump to consider unveiling an infrastructure plan aimed at boosting funds for big-ticket items without significantly relying on private capital. Many industry stakeholders and state and local officials share Pelosi’s sentiment.

Read more online.

US Chamber Chief: Trump should play nice in NAFTA talks

Excerpt from Transport Topics via Bloomberg:

President Trump should renegotiate Nafta in a way that builds upon — rather than hinders — the movement of goods and people between Canada, the United States and Mexico, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said.

Tom Donohue told a business audience Feb. 6 in Ottawa that the new administration already has taken positive steps, such as pledging to curb regulation and advancing TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Throwing up roadblocks to trade within the North American Free Trade Agreement would raise costs and threaten U.S. jobs, Donohue said.

“We would insist on doing it in a way that doesn’t disrupt the $1.3 trillion of trade that depends on Nafta” each year, Donohue said. “It’s our job to ensure that our leaders understand and appreciate how much of our prosperity is linked to this relationship.”

Donohue’s remarks, made before a scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, suggest Canada has some support from within the U.S. business community for the idea that the disadvantages of renegotiating Nafta may outweigh the benefits.

Read more online.

State urged to pull mileage tax study funding

Excerpt from Record Journal article:

Critics of a mileage tax urged the legislature’s Transportation Committee on Monday to block $300,000 set aside for the state’s participation in a federal study to see if such a tax is feasible in Connecticut.

Testifying on a bill to block the funding, opponents said they opposed the tax for several reasons and don’t see a need for Connecticut to participate in the study with other states.

“I think there’s enough historical data and too many unanswered questions to render this study complete — we know it doesn’t work,” said Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut.

The state Department of Transportation said in written testimony that the point of the study is simply to see if a mileage tax is feasible, and noted Connecticut has not implemented tolls despite similar studies.

The two Democratic co-chairmen of the Transportation Committee agreed with the DOT, saying they feel the study has a purpose despite their initial opposition to a mileage tax.

“I think all of us on this committee should listen to many of these things that are out there to find out where maybe Connecticut should be going,” said Rep. Tony Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, adding he’s “not a fan” of the tax.

See the full Record Journal article online.

Transportation Committee to take up highway toll issue

Excerpt from Hartford Courant article:

… Malloy last year said Connecticut would pay $300,000 toward a regional study of instituting a tax based on how many miles each driver travels in a year.

The idea is that those who drive the most — notably commercial drivers — would pay heavily, while those who use their cars for short and few trips would pay little. Republicans support legislation to block the study, saying Connecticut would never want such a tax.

“We know this doesn’t work. It would be an experimental tax,” said Joseph Sculley, head of the state’s trucking lobby. “Twenty other states have repealed this because it was too expensive to administer, because it discriminated against interstate commerce or because it was just evaded.”

Opponents say it would be impossible to tax out-of-state drivers, and that Connecticut motorists who drove in other states could be unfairly penalized. Any GPS-based tracking system would raise major privacy issues, opponents said.

Sculley said Connecticut has more practical ways to raise revenue.

“I don’t think technology is the answer,” he said. “You need a huge bureaucracy to try to enforce it.”

The committee isn’t expected to advance bills or vote them down until later in the legislative season.

See the full Hartford Courant article online.

Senate confirms Chao as DOT Secretary

Excerpt from Transport Topics article:

The country’s top transportation officer will be Elaine Chao after the Senate voted to confirm her Jan. 31.

Chao joins President Trump’s cabinet to direct agencies that oversee trucking regulation, highway safety and aviation. She indicated atop her priorities will be to help advance a long-term funding proposal for infrastructure projects and crafting policies designed for emerging automation technologies. During the campaign, Trump’s advisers proposed investing $1 trillion over 10 years by providing tax credits to investors.

Ninety-three senators backed her nomination, six voted against her and one voted “present.”

The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, John Thune (R-S.D.), strongly endorsed Chao for the job.

“Chao has the experience, ability, and now the bipartisan backing of the Senate to address our nation’s transportation and infrastructure challenges. Her unwavering commitment to public service will be an asset to the Department of Transportation and the new administration,” Thune said in a statement shortly after Chao was confirmed. “As a new era begins, I look forward to working with her on an agenda to boost innovation and our country’s economic success.”

Ray LaHood, former secretary of transportation and co-chairman of Building America’s Future, applauded Chao’s confirmation.

See the full Transport Topics article online.

FMCSA launches website to educate on safety responsibilities

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently launched its redesigned New Entrant Program website, updated to help motor carriers understand their responsibilities during their first 18 months on the road.

The enhanced website introduces carriers to Federal safety regulations and explains how FMCSA and State Partners monitor carrier safety compliance during the New Entrant Program, which they do by conducting a Safety Audit on new carriers. A Safety Audit is a review of a carrier’s safety management controls and a sample of required records to assess safety compliance.

To help carriers understand what to expect during a Safety Audit, FMCSA also launched a robust guidebook to help carriers prepare by gathering documentation that auditors might request to verify compliance with safety regulations. Once a carrier successfully completes the New Entrant Program, they continue to be monitored through roadside inspections and State crash reports under FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) safety compliance and enforcement program.

Through the website, carriers can access FMCSA resources and programs to help them operate safely every day, on every trip.

FMCSA encourages all carriers to visit the New Entrant Program website to find the tools they need to perform safely on our Nation’s roads.

Study approved for I-95 widening in southwest Connecticut

From CT Post:

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday defended the need to add two lanes to Interstate-95 in the Greenwich-New Haven corridor.

Speaking to reporters minutes after he led the State Bond Commission’s approval of the second of two $1 million dollar allocations to develop a strategy for the widening, Malloy said that the road widening is part of an overall state strategy that includes increases in bus and train ridership.

“I believe that I-95 needs to be enlarged by a lane throughout its entire direction,” Malloy said. “So where it’s three lanes it needs to be four, and in fact with breakdown, there are five, right? And where it’s two it needs to enlarged to three, for the reasonable flow of traffic, which the current state of I-95 particularly in Fairfield County through New Haven County and then in the area of our eastern seashore are gigantic impediments to job growth in our state.”

See the full CT Post article online.