February 27, 2014
Highway Funding Solutions Being Debated
The Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of money by September, 2014. Several financing ideas are being floated, but the current "do nothing" Congress means that real solutions may be hard to come by.
President Obama has suggested a one-time infusion into the fund. The administration's plan calls for $302 billion over four years as part of the highway program reauthorization. About half of that would come from corporation tax reform. Another big chunk of that ($63 billion) would come from eliminating loop holes in the trust fund.
Failing to get new fundings means that the Federal Highway Administration would be forced to cut back on the flow of Federal funds to States for highway construction and maintenance. That could begin as early as this coming summer. Mike Hancokc, president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), says that if that happens, States may have to suspend their highway project plans.
While Congress might argue for comprehensive reform of the tax code, most parties such as American Trucking Assocations, argue that the quickest and surest way to resolve the problem is to raise the federal fuel tax.
However, most players agree that in the current Congress, that is not going to happen. Senator Barbara boxer, D-CA, speaking at the AASHTO meeting, said their was not enough support to make a fuel tax increase happen. She said Obama's approach is viable because it does not require reforming the entire tax system.
The next Highway Bill is currently being written and will likely be in debate by spring or summer. Details courtesy truckinginfo.com.
US DOT Initiates Data Innovation Challenge to spur Innovative Transport Solutions
In an effort to jump start innovation on current national transportation challenges, the U.S. Department of Transportation has initiated the Data Innovation Challenge. The challenge is about creation of web-based tools, data visualization and creation of mobile apps that addresses issues in Safety, transportation access, traffic management and congestion.
Many of the data sources that could be used in such applications already exists in the form of publicly available databases. DOT plans to establish a panel to review the submissions and select the winners. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2014. Full details are available on the US DOT website.
OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA (OSA):
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can result in excessive daytime sleepiness and an elevated crash risk. In 2013, FMCSA appeared poised to issue guidance to physicians encouraging mandatory testing of all drivers meeting certain risk‐based criteria (e.g. body mass index ≥ 35 kg/m2) and treatment protocols (e.g., CPAP) for those who test positive.
The Latest: In October, 2013 Congress passed legislation, supported by ATA, prohibiting FMCSA from issuing regulatory guidance on OSA. The bill states that, should FMCSA take action on the issue, it must be done through the formal notice‐and‐comment rulemaking process. Doing so would help ensure changes meet mandatory costbenefit tests and are based on sound science.
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Health Insurance Plans Offered by NMTA Partners
Our proposal is to help all members of the NMTA explore creative options to control their health insurance costs. The range of services will cover members with one employee up to hundreds of employees. The health insurance options include individual plans, fully insured group plans, level premium self-funded plans and self-funded plans with stop loss protection.
Our partnership with Presbyterian Health Plan provides a unique fully insured Association Plan for members of the NMTA. This plan uses your Association to move employers from the restrictive ACA plans available to groups of 50 or less employees, to the cost effective options available to groups of over 50 employees.
For larger groups there are options that give employers greater control over their costs, including level premium self–funding. For groups that are self–funded, we can provide a stop loss policy that is provided by a captive insurance program specifically designed for the trucking industry.
Alan J. Hess505 821-6477
A Trucking Thought
Courtesy Motor Carriers of Montana
SuperTech Meetup Dates Announced
The ATA Technology and Maintenance council (TMC) has announced the 2014 10th annual SuperTech National Technician skills Competition. The event is planned for the fall TMC annual meeting on September 22-24, 2014 at the Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida.
The SuperTech competition is the National culmination of the various topTech and similar competitions held around the U.S. Many states Assocations send their State winners to the event.
The TMC fall meeting is also an important event for trucking managers charged with keeping their fleets and transportation processes in top condition. There any many educational sessions, national speakers and a series of training sessions for both technicians and supervisors. Further details and registration will be announced shortly.
FMCSA Issues NPRM on Drug/Alcohol Clearinghouse
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published Feb. 20 a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that when made final will establish a database of drivers who have failed or refused to take a drug or alcohol test. The Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, as it’s known, was officially announced Feb. 12 by FMCSA. The current MAP-21 highway funding act dictated FMCSA create the rule, and the proposal cleared the White House’s Office of Management and Budget Jan. 28. Courtesy of ATA Daily
Comments to the docket are recommended, and are due by April 21st.
HOURS OF SERVICE (HOS):
On July 1, 2013 the final provisions of the new HOS rules went into effect including the
Controversial rest break requirement and 34‐hour restart restrictions. Following a long court battle, in August,
2013 the Federal Appeals Court in Washington, D.C. sided with FMCSA on most provisions of the rules.
ATA registered a victory, however, on its objection of the application of the 30‐minute rest break requirement to short haul drivers. FMCSA subsequently issued a final rule codifying the short haul exemption. FMCSA has also granted some limited short‐term exemptions to certain industry segments most acutely impacted by the fact that the rest break rule prevents them from ensuring their vehicles and cargo are constantly attended. In late2013, the TRUE Safety Act, supported by ATA, was introduced in the House of Representatives. If enacted, it would stay enforcement of the new 34‐hour restart restrictions until at least six months after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) submits to Congress an assessment of FMCSA cost/benefit analysis used to justify the rule.
The Latest: In late 2013, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) issued a report assessing the economic impacts of the new HOS rules. The report found that motor carriers are experiencing significant economic and productivity losses as a result of the rule changes