Waiver extends the expiration date of CDL Medical Certificates

From the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an additional waiver for Commercial Driver License (CDL) Medical Certificates (also known as a medical card). This waiver extends the expiration date of CDL Medical Certificates as follows:

  • Certificates that expired between March 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020 will expire on October 31, 2020
  • Certificates that expire or are expiring between June 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020 will expire on December 31, 2020

Affected customers will receive an email from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) informing them of the extension. These customers must self-certify, which can be done through the RMV’s Online Service Center, prior to the expiration dates listed above or their CDL will be downgraded to a Class D license.

Additional RMV Information

The RMV has updated their COVID-19 Information website. This includes temporary Greenfield Service Center changes and additional drop-off centers.

FMCSA updates Safety Measurement System website

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has updated the Safety Measurement System (SMS) website. The revised data is current as of Sept. 25. With this snapshot, FMCSA has aligned the violations used in SMS to reflect the latest changes to violations recorded as part of the roadside inspection program. A summary of the violation changes is available in the SMS Appendix A spreadsheet. (This link will download a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet).

Complete SMS results are available to enforcement users and motor carriers that are logged into the SMS website.

Three months left to meet Clearinghouse annual query requirements

If an employer has not yet conducted queries in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse on any CDL drivers they currently employ, time is running out. The deadline to meet the annual query requirement (per § 382.701) is Jan. 5, 2021.

This annual query requirement is tracked on a rolling 12-month basis. For instance, if an employer conducts a query of a CDL driver on Oct. 9, the employer will not need to query that driver again until Oct. 9, 2021.

Employers must purchase a query plan to ensure they, and their designated consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs), can conduct queries on prospective and current drivers. Learn more about query plans.

Be sure to register for the Clearinghouse and conduct your annual queries today. To learn more, download the queries and consent requests factsheet.

ATA & RITA fights truck-only tolls in Rhode Island

If you are not aware of the high-stakes litigation that involves the trucking industry in Rhode Island, you need to be. The American Trucking Associations (ATA), which TAM is a member, is spearheading an effort to overturn this unfair situation. They are asking for our help so they, along with the Rhode Island Trucking Association (RITA), can continue the fight against truck-only tolling in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island ATA State Vice President Mike Collins, president of M&D Transportation from North Kingstown, created a video to show why this is important to all of us.

Watch and share this short video and consider making a contribution to this effort. Contributions help to ensure the ATA and RITA can continue to aggressively fight these unfair tolls in the courts. Your donation may be a small fraction of what your company stands to lose.

 

Streamlined PPP loan forgiveness process

On Oct. 8, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released a simpler loan forgiveness application for those Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applicants who received loans of $50,000 or less. Most trucking industry owner-operators and small fleets will qualify for this application process.

From Overdrive.

[Todd Amen, president of ATBS] said last week, prior to the SBA announcement, it had assisted only 45 clients with forgiveness applications, largely because of the form’s complexity as well as talk of Congress setting a threshold under which all PPP loans would be automatically forgiven. That factor was assumed to be part of the next coronavirus relief bill, which continues to be stalled amid partisan disagreements.

Many banks had been temporarily refusing to accept the original forgiveness application because of lingering questions about it, as well as the tedious demands required to process the original forgiveness form, Amen said. SBA said it and the U.S. Treasury Dept. also have eased the burden on PPP lenders, allowing them to process forgiveness applications more swiftly.

The revised PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Form has been posted on the SBA website. The SBA also posted revised application form instructions for borrowers.

Advantage Truck Group is Successful Dealer Award finalist

This summer, Trucks, Parts and Service – the only media entity in the trucking industry that caters exclusively to dealer and independent aftermarket professionals – announced Advantage Truck Group was one of the finalists for their 2020 Successful Dealer Award.

The award recognizes well-rounded, successful truck dealer operations for their business success, customer service response and reputation, community involvement and outreach, civic responsibility, environmental initiatives, staff education and training, marketing and more.

Ever since he was a kid detailing cars in his driveway, Kevin Holmes has been focused on providing value. He says back then he wanted to do a good job for a fair price because he wanted to open a business someday and he knew the best way to make that a reality was through quality service.

Congratulations to Kevin, who now operates a six-location dealer group across Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire that employs more than 250.

Read the full release.

 

FMCSA educational tool concerning HOS regulations

FMCSA’s Educational Tool for Hours of Service (ETHOS) helps motor carriers and drivers better understand the HOS regulations going into effect on Sept. 29, 2020.

ETHOS is for educational purposes only and is designed to assist motor carriers in understanding the hours of service rules in 49 CFR part 395. The ETHOS identifies only potential violations, and should not be relied on by motor carriers to monitor or evaluate hours of service compliance. FMCSA does not retain any data entered in this application, and will not use the data entered for any purpose.

The information provided by using the ETHOS is not a communication from FMCSA, guidance, advisory opinion, pre-enforcement ruling, or other interpretation or application of law. Use of this ETHOS does not preclude enforcement or other actions by FMCSA based on violations discovered during roadside inspections, compliance reviews, or other inspections and investigations.

Trucking in Massachusetts; How the Rolling Stock Tax impacts you

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) secured a change in the tax law in the mid-1990s and is only now enforcing it. The change? The ability to tax rolling stock if a company has a “substantial nexus” to the state!

While 37 states exempt the sales and use tax on rolling stock, Massachusetts now applies this tax to newly purchased trucks because of this law and a company’s “substantial nexus” to the state.

Under Massachusetts law, a “substantial nexus” or “tax jurisdiction” can be established when a company:

  • is headquartered or commercially domiciled in the state
  • owns real or tangible personal property in the state, including property that is possessed, held or used by another person pursuant to a lease, license, consignment or other arrangement;
  • uses real or tangible personal property that it does not own in the state, including property that it possesses or holds pursuant to a lease, license, consignment or other arrangement;
  • has a full or part-time employee acting on its behalf in the state, irrespective of the nature of the employment, see 830 CMR 63.39.1(3)(c)
  • has an independent contractor or other non-employee representative acting or operating on its behalf in the state for the purpose of selling, delivering, installing, assembling, maintaining or repairing the corporation’s products, or taking orders for or otherwise establishing or maintaining a market for the corporation’s products and/or services in the state, see 830 CMR 63.39.1(3)(c);
  • does not have the contacts or other incidents with the state as referenced in 830 CMR 63.39.1(3)(b)1. through 7., but has considerable in-state sales derived through either economic or virtual contacts.  See 830 CMR 63.39.1(3)(d). See also South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., 138 S. Ct. 2080 (2018).

If the DOR reviews your company, it can seek tax on any rolling stock you’ve purchased for the past three to six years.

For example, consider the following: Your company has a terminal, customer service center or headquarters in Massachusetts. You’ve purchased six tractors every year in New Hampshire for five years. Sales tax, if the vehicles were purchased in Massachusetts, might be approximately $8,500 each (i.e. $135,000 x 6.25%). Each year, you send the six trucks to your Massachusetts terminal to be upfitted according to your company’s standards, but they are otherwise used outside of the state. The DOR, because of your substantial nexus to the state and the vehicles’ entry into the state, could try to collect over $250,000 plus penalties for six years’ worth of unpaid taxes. (5 years x $51,000 in taxes owed (i.e. 6 tractors x $8,500)). In reality, certain trucking companies have already been assessed back taxes and penalties exceeding millions of dollars and penalties under similar scenarios.

TAM is currently working with elected officials to remove this rolling stock tax from law. Last legislative session, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed this exemption.

A study by the Dukakis Center at Northeastern University showed that eliminating the rolling stock tax in Massachusetts will provide for future growth of the trucking industry, improve public safety and produce public safety benefits.

TAM has been working with other organizations, including statewide business, environmental, and public safety groups to reverse this law.

Removing the rolling stock tax from Massachusetts law is just one of many initiatives that TAM works on for the Massachusetts trucking industry.

FMCSA extends Emergency Relief Declaration to Dec. 31

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has again extended its emergency declaration relaxing hours-of-service rules for motor carriers that are providing direct assistance in support of COVID-related relief efforts.

The emergency declaration 2020-002 – originally set to expire on Sept. 14 – has been extended to Dec. 31, 2020, and applies to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The updated declaration is posted on the FMCSA website, and is available as a downloadable PDF.

 

ATRI launches Top Industry Issues survey

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) is conducting its 16th annual Top Industry Issues Survey to identify critical issues confronting our industry and develop strategies for addressing those issues now and in the future.

Your opinion is vital to stakeholders who are working to ensure the long-term vitality of the trucking industry. TAM encourages you to set aside a few minutes to provide your feedback.

From ATRI.

… ATRI’s annual analysis not only ranks the issues overall but also provides details on where critical topics are ranked differently by motor carriers and professional drivers. The report also allows stakeholders to monitor issues over time, to better understand which issues are rising, or falling, in criticality.

ATRI requests you complete the survey no later than Oct. 16. You can find results from the 2019 survey posted as a PDF online.

FMCSA to request feedback on HOS proposal

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is considering a pilot program allowing drivers additional flexibility to pause their 14-hour workday. If you wish to submit feedback, you’ll need to do so no later 60 days from when the notice is published in the Federal Register. Note the notice has not yet been published.

You can find information on the proposed pilot program on the FMCSA website here [PDF].

Background Information

From the FMCSA release…

On August 22, 2019, FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) concerning drivers’ hours of service which proposed certain amendments to provide greater flexibility for drivers, without adversely affecting safety (84 FR 44190).

As part of that rulemaking, FMCSA proposed that a single off-duty break of between 30 minutes and 3 consecutive hours may be excluded from the 14-hour driving window, provided the driver has at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.

The Agency explained that a single pause of up to 3 hours would provide significantly more flexibility than is allowed under the current rules. The pause would have allowed drivers to take an off-duty break without fear of exhausting their available hours under the 14-hour clock, which would also have allowed them to get additional rest or avoid traffic congestion.

After reviewing the public comments to the NPRM, the Agency decided not to include the pause to the 14-hour driving window in the Final Rule, published on June 1, 2020 (85 FR 33396). FMCSA continues to believe that an opportunity for a single off duty pause in the 14-hour driving window could provide flexibility for drivers without compromising safety, as explained in the NPRM.

From Trucking Info

When the final rule was published, asked why this provision was omitted from the final rule, Acting Administrator Jim Mullen explained that, “the split sleeper berth provides essentially the equivalent, if not more flexibility, in that regard.” So if a driver wanted to take up to a three-hour break to wait out rush hour, for instance, he or she could take that as split sleeper berth time.

In the final rule, the agency cited concerns raised by commenters that drivers might be “pressured by carriers, shippers, or receivers to use the break to cover detention time, which would not necessarily provide the driver an optimal environment for restorative rest,” noted the trucking attorneys at Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary.

To comment on the proposed pilot program, visit the Regulations.gov website. Search for Docket No. FMCSA-2020-0098. Once the proposal has been published, you’ll be able to submit your comment.