Oversize & overweight permit fee increases proposed

On Friday, Feb. 27, Joe Sculley submitted testimony to the Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue, and Bonding regarding proposals to increase fees for oversize and overweight permits. An excerpt from the testimony is below. The full testimony is available as a PDF document.

At this time, we are opposed to any further increases in any taxes, fees or other charges related to transportation until an effective Constitutional Amendment is approved guaranteeing that the money generated will be used for transportation purposes. Too many times the Special Transportation Fund has been raided or revenue that should be deposited in it has been diverted by this legislature and several governors.

We would be willing to discuss increasing the fees in the context of all of the increases which the Governor will be proposing to finance his ambitious transportation infrastructure program. This bill would significantly increase the cost for state issued permits for the transportation of over-dimension shipments. These are regularly issued to move certain non-divisible loads, like bulldozers or cranes from one job site to another. They are sometimes issued for very large loads which require extensive routing and escort vehicles.

Currently the Connecticut permit office employs outdated manual approval processing for permit applications. This is cumbersome and inconvenient. Most states now provide electronic approval of certain vehicles over certain routes. For years, we have been working with the Department of Transportation to move Connecticut to a modern automated permit system. As the attached chart indicates, most states have moved to an automated self-issuing permit. This saves time and money for not only the state but also businesses. We don’t believe that we should pay more for an outdated system and especially a new improved one that eliminates costs for both the state and the customer.

MTAC Testimony on Transportation Lockbox Proposal

On Monday, Feb. 29, MTAC President Joe Sculley testified before the Joint Transportation Committee regarding the proposed Constitutional Amendment to create a “lockbox” for transportation funds. An excerpt of that testimony is below. The full testimony is available as a PDF document.

MTAC believes that an amendment to the Connecticut Constitution should name revenue sources right in the Constitution. And it should identify, in general terms, the types of expenditures that can be characterized as “transportation.”

The Governor’s Transportation Finance Panel offered some aggressive financing proposals to raise $100 billion. These recommendations add to the critical necessity of passing a strong and enforceable lockbox. The Transportation Finance Panel options include fuel tax increases, license and permit fee increases, an oil companies tax increase, and congestion price tolling. The panel names possible locations for tolling as the I-84 west corridor, I-95 East, I-95 West, the CT River bridges in the Hartford area, Route 2, I-91/I-691//Rt 15 interchange, Route 9, and Route 11.

These tax and fee increases will be a shock to small business trucking companies who might be struggling to stay in business. Larger companies will pass those costs on to their customers, resulting in higher prices for goods and services for all CT consumers. Everybody will pay more for everything. And if the funds are diverted, those that provide the funding will get nothing in return. Connecticut is still dealing with growing budget deficits. A proposal for 5.75% across-the-board cuts is on the table for this year. Many leaders are suggesting a similar approach might have to happen next year as well. These proposals were suggested before the recent notice by OFA which states that the budget deficit is $900 million.

MTAC members see this news about large deficits and difficult cuts, and at the same time see the proposal to raise $100 billion under the auspices of this lockbox proposal. The STF is funded almost entirely by car and truck owners and operators who pay their fuels taxes, the oil companies’ tax, motor vehicle receipts, license and permit fees, and fines, as well as some federal highway funds, which are also generated by road and highway users. MTAC members fear that their taxes and fees will go up, and the funds will be diverted to other areas of government. If those fears were to come to fruition, it would mean that car and truck owners and operators would be subsidizing other areas of government (more so than they already are).

MTAC testifies in opposition to closing rest areas

On Friday, Feb. 19, MTAC President Joe Sculley testified at an Appropriations Committee hearing in opposition to a budget proposal to permanently close down rest areas on Interstate 84 in Southington and Willington. He also stated opposition to closing or reducing staffing at all other rest areas in the state.

A copy of Sculley’s statement to the Appropriations Committee is now available.

MTAC on Connecticut transportation funds lockbox

Earlier this week, the Journal Inquirer published this Op-Ed by MTAC President Joe Sculley concerning the Connecticut governor’s suggestion to create a lockbox for transportation funds in the state. The full piece is available at the Journal Inquirer’s website.

Proposal is not a Lockbox

Gov. Dannel Malloy has proposed a state constitutional amendment to create a “lockbox” for transportation funds. The governor also proposes to spend $100 billion on the state’s transportation infrastructure over 30 years.

The lockbox is a good idea, but as is often the case, the devil is in the details.

Malloy’s infrastructure plan is predicated on identifying new sources of revenue, including increasing current fees and imposing tolls, privatizing certain state assets, and other creative schemes. In response to public outrage over frequent previous diversions of transportation funding, he has proposed a constitutional amendment to create a transportation lockbox.

The bill introduced by the General Assembly’s Democratic leadership is anything but an effective lockbox. The only way to “lock” transportation revenue into the Special Transportation Fund is to specify in the constitution the sources of the revenue that is to be locked — fuel taxes, license and registration fees, fines, farebox revenue, sales tax, etc.

Read the full post.

New York Highway Use Tax fees update

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

As you are likely aware, a recent Supreme Court ruling declared the fees charged for a HUT decal and certificate of registration as unconstitutional. The case was brought by the Owner Operators Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) on behalf of out-of-state trucking companies. New York has interpreted the ruling as prohibiting the Tax Department from charging the fees to out-of-state carriers, but believe they are still legislatively bound to continue to charge in-state carriers the fees.

As a result, the One Stop Credentialing and Registration (OSCAR) system is currently available only to carriers registering a New York plated vehicle. Those carriers will continue to be charged the $15 and $4 per truck fees. All other carriers must now file by mail, but there will be no fees collected. This is the short-term solution.

Late on Friday, NYSMTA learned what the potential long-term solution may be. As part of the Governor’s 30-day amendments to the 2016-17 NYS Budget, a proposal has been made to eliminate the $15 and $4 fees and replace them with a $1.50 per truck administrative fee. By making this change, New York would be in compliance with the decision of the recent Supreme Court ruling, and still be able to collect the fees from both in-state and out-of-state carriers, as this would simply be a fee to offset the cost of administering the HUT credentials, rather than to generate revenue.

If the proposal passes, it would become effective on April 1, 2016.

MTAC visits Anastasio & Sons Trucking

Last week, MTAC President Joe Sculley visited the business of MTAC Board member Andy Anastasio, Anastasio & Sons Trucking Company.

Anastasio trucking says that just about everyone traveling the highways and byways this side of the Mississippi has seen their flatbed fleet in action. Their business started in 1977, and they are proud of what it has become. What started with an old Mack B model has grown into one of the largest and most technologically advanced flatbed trucking services in the Northeast.

They have made a name for themselves in the industry for their ability to accommodate all types of trucking and handling needs from material-specific tarping, to adding a fleet of pole trucks when called upon.

Additionally, Anastasio counts themselves as among the blessed to have one of the best and most efficient dispatchers in the business. They welcome all inquiries for trucking regardless of size and scope. The trucking company is a part of the larger Anastasio Group. for more information, visit the Anastasio & Sons Trucking Company online website.

Hours of Service restart provision threatened

There is a developing issue with the federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulation, and MTAC wanted to provide a summary of what is happening. The bottom line is that there was a “legislative glitch” with some of the language regarding the HOS regulation that was included in the omnibus government funding bill passed last year.

To recap recent HOS developments, on July 1, 2013, FMCSA changed the regulation to state that the 34 hour restart could only be used once per 7 days (168) hours, and had to include consecutive1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods. Congress ultimately acted to suspend that by including a provision in the fiscal year 2015 government funding bill which required FMCSA to complete a study before FMCSA could enforce the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. and 168 hour provisions.

Roughly a year later, Congress included another provision in the fiscal year 2016 government funding bill to require “statistically significant” data in the study regarding safety improvements before FMCSA could enforce the new restart provisions. However, there was a problem with the way the legislative language was written. Rather than stating that the restart provisions in effect before July 1, 2013 would remain in the event that FMCSA could not produce “statistically significant” data, what the language actually said, according to DOT, was that the entire restart provision itself would not be in effect. There would simply be a weekly cap on hours that could be driven, with no restarts allowed.

While Congress and the industry knew what the intent of this law change was, the Department of Transportation has seized on the actual wording of the law. They are threatening to begin enforcing the regulation with no restart provision. This has not yet happened, but FMCSA/DOT are reportedly preparing to do it.

ATA, state trucking associations, and political leaders in Congress are working to come to a resolution. The industry believes that the 34 hour restart should be preserved, and that it was clearly the intent of the provision contained in the government funding bill to do so.

MTAC visits John DeGrand & Son

Last week, MTAC President Joe Sculley visited the headquarters of John DeGrand & Son, Inc. DeGrand specializes in daily, overnight, and next day service throughout the Tri-State area and New England region. All services provided to these areas are handled exclusively by John DeGrand & Son’s employees.

John DeGrand & Son, Inc. also provides services throughout the continental United States. To accomplish these services in the safest, most time efficient, cost effective, and quality assured manner, John DeGrand & Son’s employees manage and track all services from start to finish.

For larger projects throughout the United States, John DeGrand & Son and their employees are always available to be on hand at site to manage, oversee, run, operate, and transport any project from start to finish. Their services include delivery and moving, warehousing, battery recycling, packaging/crating, and logistics.

It was great to meet with MTAC Board member Tom DeGrand, as well as another DeGrand leader who is active within MTAC, Mike DeGrand. Be sure to visit their website.

New FMCSA Certified Medical Examination Forms

MTAC has received the new Certified Medical Examination forms, and they are available for sale. As part of the 2015 Medical Examiner’s Certification Integration Final Rule, medical examiners will soon be required to use the revised Medical Long Form (MCSA-5875) and Medical Examination Certification (med card) (MCSA-5876). If you have “old” forms, they will be valid only until April 20, 2016.

The new forms were originally going to be required beginning at the end of 2015, but that deadline was delayed by FMCSA. According to FMCSA, that action was taken to ensure that Medical Examiners had sufficient time to become familiar with the new forms and to program electronic medical records systems.

Now that MTAC has the new forms in stock which are valid for use at this time, they are the only forms that will be sold from now on. If you need to order the new forms, visit the MTAC office, or call the office at (860) 520-4455.

UCRA enforcement postponed

The fees for 2016 payable by interstate motor carriers and other entities under the Unified Carrier Registration Agreement (UCRA) were due by the end of calendar 2015, and enforcement was due to begin, at least in many states, at the first of this year. The UCR program, however, does not require those paying the fees to display any credential in or on motor vehicles; enforcement depends largely on the electronic records of carriers’ payments shown in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SAFER system.

SAFER, however, has recently had problems receiving state updates saying which carriers have paid UCR fees, so state enforcement personnel at roadside may find no record of payment for a carrier that has actually complied with its obligations. Some carriers have received tickets for operating without having paid their UCR fees when in fact they have.

Earlier this week, the UCRA Board recommended to the states they postpone UCR enforcement until February 1, 2016, to allow time for FMCSA to resolve its system problems, and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has also requested its member states’ enforcement agencies to do likewise. We assume most or all states will honor these requests.

(By Bob Pitcher, State Laws Newsletter)