MEMA releases Sept. 2019 newsletter

Produced by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), the monthly newsletter helps keep the public safety community of the state informed about emergency management issues.

This edition of MEMA’s newsletter includes information on emergency preparedness month, hurricane season, the July Cape Cod tornadoes, Merrimack Valley Natural Gas Emergency anniversary, hazard mitigation grants, upcoming training classes, and more.

Most information is available on the MEMA website, and you can download the current edition (PDF) right here. You can also access past monthly reports online at the MEMA website.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Deadlines

As many TAM members have heard, Massachusetts has a new Paid Family and Medical Law (PFML) that has upcoming deadlines to be aware of. The new program is being administered by the Department of Family and Medical Leave (Department). Please take note of the following key facts.

Required Withholding Starts October 1
The start date for required PFML contributions is October 1, 2019. On that date, employers must begin withholding PFML contributions from employee qualifying earnings. Employers will be responsible for remitting employee and (if applicable) employer contributions for the October 1 to December 31 quarter through MassTaxConnect by January 31, 2020.

Contribution Rate Change 
The PFML law requires that the Department adjust the contribution rate to offset the shorter period for collections that will result from the three month delay. As a result, the total contribution rate has been adjusted from 0.63% to 0.75% of employee qualifying earnings. This adjustment will ensure that full funding will be in place for the commencement of benefit payments in January 2021.

Timeline for Required Employee Notices 
Employers have until September 30, 2019, to notify all covered individuals of their rights and obligations under PFML. For information about workplace posters and notice documents for employees, visit the program website.

Timeline Extended for Exemption Applications
Employers that offer paid leave benefits that are at least as generous as those required under the PFML law may apply to the Department for an exemption from making contributions. Employers will have until December 20, 2019, to apply for an exemption that will excuse them from the obligation to remit contributions for the full period commencing with the October 1 start date.

A checklist of required actions may be found online right here. For other information about this new program, visit the program’s website.

Cleveland Research releases trucking trends for August

On Aug. 19, Chris Johnson from the Cleveland Research Company updated their trend analysis for the transportation industry. The full report is available as a PDF [2.7 MB]

The report details trends for the global airfreight, containerized ocean traffic, rail and trucking segments. An overview of US trucking trends was provided, and includes the following information:

  • Truckload tonnage growth in June rose 1.5% Y/Y, its slowest growth rate since April 2017, and continues to remain below the high-single digit growth during most of 2018. Tonnage declined M/M for the sixth month out of the last eight. While June’s growth rate was the 26th consecutive month of Y/Y growth, the 3 month moving average (3MMA) growth rate slowed to 4% (was growing 7%+ from October 2017 to June 2018). 3MMA tonnage was up 0.5% M/M.
  • Spot market dry-van TL rates in July and early August were down 21% Y/Y, consistent with year-to-date trend, as the market lapped significant year-ago rate increases (rates were up 20-30% Y/Y in 1H18). After 2018 contract rates likely increased 8-11% Y/Y, our work indicates TL contract rates are likely down 0-5% Y/Y in 2019 (slowing from modest growth in early 2019), with risk to the downside as spot market rates likely remain lower Y/Y and brokers are likely offering price declines of 5-15% Y/Y (prior estimate was down 5-10%).

Cleveland Research Company (CRC) is an independent research firm headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. The company has a reputation for exceptional ground-level intelligence across the consumer, agriculture, industrial, healthcare, retail, foodservice, and technology industries.

FMCSA publishes HOS proposed rulemaking

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on changes to hours of service (HOS) rules to increase safety on America’s roadways by updating existing regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.

“This proposed rule seeks to enhance safety by giving America’s commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

You can read the full release on the FMCSA website here.

The Federal Register Notice, including how to submit comments, is available here. Comments should be submitted no later than the end of September, but the FMCSA does not list a specific date in the document.

Take the ATRI Top Industry Issues Survey

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) is conducting its 15th annual Top Industry Issues Survey to identify critical issues confronting our industry and develop strategies for addressing these issues now and in the future. Your opinion is vital to stakeholders who are working to ensure the long-term vitality of our industry.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey.

Baker files commercial driver safety legislation (H.3980)

As you may know, the Baker-Polito Administration has been reviewing the processes and procedures that led to the tragedy in New Hampshire involving a pick-up truck with an attached trailer and a group of motorcycle operators and riders. As part of that review, the governor has filed legislation [Bill H.3980] to make changes to the state portions of the commercial drivers license (CDL) program.

Among the items included in the legislation:

  • applicants for commercial driver’s licenses will have to demonstrate a history of good driving and will be ineligible for licensure if they have been suspended or disqualified from driving at any time in the past three years;
  • the bill also proposes to raise suspension periods for operators with commercial driver’s licenses who commit multiple, serious traffic violations from 60 to 120 days for drivers who commit two serious traffic violations during a three-year period, and raises the minimum suspension period from 120 to 240 days for drivers who commit three serious violations in that window;
  • require drivers to provide next day notification to employers and the Registry if they are convicted of violating any state or local motor vehicle traffic law or if they have their right to operate a motor vehicle revoked or suspended by any state; and
  • require any employer hiring commercial drivers to sign up for the state’s Driver Verification System, a free service that provides automatic notification to employers when an employee’s commercial driver’s license status changes.

The legislation, which was admitted to the Massachusetts legislature late Friday afternoon, will be most likely assigned to the Joint Committee on Transportation. The Trucking Association of Massachusetts has been reviewing this legislation and plans to weigh in with the legislature accordingly.

To review the text of the legislative filing, visit the Massachusetts Legislature’s website. Sponsored by Gov. Baker, the legislation is titled An Act to Promote Commercial Driver Safety. You can also download a PDF of the legislation.

TAM will have more updates on this matter as it progresses through the legislature.

ATA – Truck tonnage index fell in June

From the American Trucking Association.

American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.1% in June after falling 4% in May. In June, the index equaled 115.2 (2015=100) compared with 116.5 in May.

“Tonnage continues to show resilience as it posted the twenty-sixth year-over-year increase despite falling for the second straight month sequentially,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The year-over-year gain was the smallest over the past two years, but the level of freight remains quite high. Tonnage is outperforming other trucking metrics as heavy freight sectors, like tank truck, are witnessing better freight levels than sectors like dry van, which has a lower average weight per load.”

Visit the ATA website for the complete press release.

Higher diesel taxes effective July 1

From Matt Cole at the Commercial Carrier Journal – Fleet Management Magazine.

With the turn of the calendar to July, truck drivers will see increased diesel fuel prices in 12 states due to rising fuel taxes.

While some states’ increases are less than a cent, some states’ taxes on diesel will be immediately noticeable. All of the following fuel tax increases took effect Monday, July 1.

Although taxes on diesel here in the Commonwealth have not changed, drivers and operators in Connecticut and Rhode Island will see 2.6 cent and 1 cent increases respectively. Connecticut taxes are now 46.5 cents per gallon, and Rhode Island 34 cents per gallon.

For additional information on the diesel fuel tax increases in other states, read the full article.


Weeks, TAM joins Massport Truck Access Steering Committee

Massport is investing more than $850 million in the Conley Container Terminal during the next 18 months. As they expand to handle additional volume and larger container ships, they want to ensure they promote and preserve the dedicated truck routes throughout the Seaport District. Protecting these routes will keep trucks off local neighborhood streets while continuing to serve commerce and global trade throughout New England.

The Truck Access Group Steering Committee will help Massport’s efforts in further advocacy and ensure that the industry’s voices are heard as the South Boston Waterfront continues to develop. TAM will be one of the members of this committee.

We will keep you informed about committee activity and report back accordingly after each meeting. Meetings are anticipated to begin in early Fall 2019.

Cruz, Marks join TAM leadership board

The Trucking Association of Massachusetts is pleased to announce the addition of two additional board members. Rolando Cruz is the safety and recruiting director from Capital Driver Leasing, and Richard Marks is the president of 28 Freight.

We are looking forward to working with them in the coming years. We are always looking for people to become involved in our association beyond a basic membership. If you have any interest in a greater participation contact our office. If you are receiving our newsletter and are not a member but would like to hear more about us, visit the website and drop us a line.

Rolando Cruz
Safety/Recruiting Director, Capital Driver Leasing

Rolando is a Massachusetts Army National Guard veteran and a certified director of safety thru the North American Transportation Management Institute.

He grew up fascinated with trucks and had many family members influence his passion for the industry. He became a lease driver with Contract Transport Services (CTS) in 2004 and was employed with CTS from 2004 to 2013 during which time he became their lead driver trainer and driver mentor for new and current company drivers. In 2014 he was approached by Bill Crowley to become the operation manager for Capital Driver Leasing (CDL). After a few years he assumed the roll of safety recruiting director and has been in that roll ever since. He is excited to venture into the industry in a more global scale and assist companies to achieve their safety, viability and sustainability goals.

Richard P. Marks

President – 28 Freight LLC., d.b.a TruckCourier

The Boston-based Marks family have been in the freight transportation and trucking industry, since 1928. Rich joined the family at its Hub Group, Boston operation in 1985 and focused on providing intermodal, railcar, highway and logistics solutions to wide variety of shippers and industries. In 2005, Rich departed Hub Group after a 20 year career and formed Marks Logistics, a 4PL freight management company, providing supply chain consulting and logistics support services to small and mid-sized shippers across the North American marketplace.

Earlier this year, in a move designed to pave the way for continued growth, Rich and his partners formed 28 Freight and announced the acquisition of Marks Logistics and TruckCourier, the leading provider of expedited trucking and courier services in the Northeast.