Department of Transportation Convenes Advisory Committee on Automation

 

January 17, 2017 - On Monday, January 16, 2017, the Department of Transportation held the inaugural meeting of the Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation in Washington, DC.  This Committee is composed of public officials, corporate executives, academic experts, and representatives of safety and industry groups, and was formed to provide information, advice, and recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation on multi-modal concerns relating to the deployment of automated vehicles.

 

The inaugural meeting included an introductory statement by Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, who stated his hope that the Committee would provide insight into how automation in transportation will not only impact vehicular travel, but also supply chains, the labor market, and planning for public works. The co-chairs of the Advisory Committee, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and CEO Mary Barra of General Motors, followed with introductions of themselves before allowing each committee member to introduce themselves and make initial remarks.

 

Following this introductory meeting, the Advisory Committee will now negotiate among its members to determine whether it will address different facets of automation in transportation by subcommittee discussion, and a future schedule for meetings.  The Advisory Committee members have been appointed to two-year terms, and it remains to be seen how the incoming Trump administration will work with the advisory committee, or how the administration will approach transportation policy more generally.

 

The full roster for the DOT Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation can be viewed here.

 

TIA government affairs staff attended the inaugural meeting, and will closely monitor the progress of the Advisory Committee.  For more information, please contact Will Sehestedt at sehestedt@tianet.org, or 703-299-5713.




President-Elect Trump to Nominate Elaine Chao as DOT Secretary


November 29, 2016 – The incoming 45th President of the United States Donald Trump has just named Elaine Chao as his nominee to lead the Department of Transportation. Secretary Chao, who is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), ran the Labor Department under President George W. Bush. Secretary Chao is the first Asian-American woman to hold a cabinet-level position. Secretary Chao also served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation under President George H.W. Bush.

An immigrant who arrived in America at the age of eight speaking no English, Secretary Chao’s experience transitioning to a new country has motivated her to dedicate most of her professional life to ensuring that all people have the opportunity to build better lives.

Secretary Chao’s distinguished career spans the public, private and non-profit sectors. As President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America, she restored public trust and confidence in one of our nation’s premier charitable institutions after it had been tarnished by financial mismanagement and abuse. As Director of the Peace Corps, she established the first programs in the newly liberated Baltic nations and the independent states of the former Soviet Union.  Her government service also includes serving as Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, Deputy Maritime Administrator, and White House Fellow.  Prior to her government service, she was Vice President of Syndications at BankAmerica Capital Markets Group and a banker with Citicorp in New York.

Secretary Chao earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School and an economics degree from Mount Holyoke College.  She also attended the 12-college Exchange program at Dartmouth College and Columbia University summer school.

The transportation post could become a vital one in a Trump cabinet given Mr. Trump’s desires to see $1 trillion spent on revitalizing the nation’s roads, bridges, ports and other systems of public transit.




Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Charges James Lamb and Partner with Operating Fraudulent DOT Registration Services


October 21, 2016 - A federal judge has granted the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request for a preliminary injunction against James Lamb, President of DOTAuthority.com and the Association of Independent Property Brokers and Agents (AIPBA), and Uliana Bogash with taking in more than $19 million from thousands of small businesses by sending misleading robocalls, emails and text messages that created and reinforced the false impression that they were affiliated with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) system or another government agency.

Other defendants named were DOTFilings.com, Inc., Excelsior Enterprises International Inc. and JPL Enterprises International, Inc.

As noted in the FTC’s complaint, the defendants used official-sounding names, official-looking websites, warnings of $1,000 in civil penalties or fines for non-compliance, and threats of imminent law enforcement to trick consumers into using their registration services instead of using official government website services.

According to the complaint, the defendants deceptively disclosed the total amount charged, without telling consumers the cost included the defendants’ service fees that ranged from $25 to $550 or more. The FTC also alleges that many consumers who paid the defendants’ UCR fees were automatically enrolled, without their knowledge or consent, in “SafeRenew,” the defendants’ annual renewal program for UCR fees.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 3-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The court entered a preliminary injunction against the defendants on September 29, 2016.




DOT Releases Updated Rulemakings Calendar – October 2016

The Department of Transportation (DOT) released its monthly significant rulemakings report for October, which outlines all the projected dates for upcoming major rulemakings being undertaken by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and other DOT Agencies.

The following major rulemakings were included in the report:

  1. Carrier Safety Fitness Determination – FMCSA proposes to amend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to adopt revised methodologies that would result in a safety fitness determination (SFD). The proposed methodologies would use the BASIC scores, investigations, or a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information to determine a carrier’s SFD. 

    Stage:  NPRM

    Publication Date:  January 21, 2016 (Comments were due May 23, 2016 & June 23, 2016)

  2. Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse – This rulemaking would create a central database for verified positive controlled substances and alcohol test results for CDL holders and refusals by such drivers to submit to testing. 

    Stage:  Final Rule

    Publication Date:  November 23, 2016

  3. Electronic Logging Devices and HOS Supporting Documents – This rulemaking would establish: (1) minimum performance and design standards for hours-of-service (HOS) electronic logging devices (ELDs); (2) requirements for the mandatory use of these devices by drivers currently required to prepare HOS records of duty status (RODS); (3) requirements concerning HOS supporting documents; and (4) measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of ELDs.

    Stage:  Final Rule

    Publication Date:  November 30, 2015 (Previously October 26, 2015)

    Effective Date: Carriers and drivers who are using paper logs or logging software must transition to ELDs no later than December 18, 2017. Carriers and drivers who use AOBRDS prior to the compliance date must transition to ELDs no later than December 16, 2019. See more here.

  4. URS 2 or MAP-21 Enhancements & other updates to URS – FMCSA proposes to: 1) adjust the URS registration fee for new interstate motor carriers, freight forwarders, brokers, intermodal equipment providers (IEPs), hazardous materials safety permit (HMSP) applicants, and cargo tank facilities under FMCSA jurisdiction that must register with the Agency to operate in interstate commerce; 2) implement several MAP-21 provisions that require changes to the URS regulations, the online application for USDOT Number/Operating Authority Registration (Form MCSA-1) and MCSA-1 Instructions; 3) prohibit transfers of operating authority registration; 4) and make several technical amendments to the MCSA-1 Form and Instructions for purposes of clarification.

    Stage:  NPRM

    Publication Date:  April 19, 2017  

  5. Financial Responsibility for Motor Carriers, Freight Forwarders, and Brokers – The FMCSA announces that it is considering a rulemaking to increase the minimum levels of financial responsibility for motor carriers, including liability coverage for bodily injury or property damage in the case of freight and passenger motor carriers.

     

    The legislative history of the Federal minimum insurance requirements strongly suggests that Congress recognized that crash costs would change and that DOT would regularly examine the levels and make adjustments as necessary. In completing the report Congress required under section 32104 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), FMCSA has determined that the current financial responsibility minimums are inadequate to fully cover the costs of some crashes in light of increased medical costs and DOT’s revised value of statistical life estimates.

     

    The FMCSA is also considering extending the financial responsibility requirements to private motor carriers, as authorized by section 4120 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). In addition, FMCSA is considering financial responsibility requirements for passenger carrier brokers, implementation of certain MAP-21 provisions concerning broker and freight forwarder financial responsibility, revisions of the rules concerning self-insurance and trip insurance.

    Stage:  Undetermined

    Comment Period Ended:  TBD

  6. Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters – This joint rulemaking with NHTSA would respond to petitions from ATA and Roadsafe America to require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks. The Agency believes this rule would have minimal cost, as all heavy trucks already have these devices installed, although some vehicles do not have the limit set. This rule would decrease the estimated 1,115 fatal crashes annually involving vehicles with a GVWR of over 26,000 pounds with posted speed limits of 55 mph or above. 

Stage:  NPRM

Publication Date: August 26, 2016 (Comments due October 26, 2016)

Comment Period Ended: TBD  

Definitions:

  • Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) – An ANPRM is a published notice in the Federal Register used by the Agency to test out a proposal or solicit comments and ideas before it drafts a NPRM. An Agency is not required to publish an ANPRM, but may choose to at their discretion.
  • Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) – A NPRM is a published notice in the Federal Register that provides the public with an opportunity for public comment on the proposal before the Agency issues a Final Rule.
  • Final Rule – After the comment period of the NPRM closes, and the Agency reviews all the publicly submitted comments and analyzed them, the Agency decides whether or not to proceed with the rulemaking. If the Agency decides to proceed with the rulemaking, it would issue a Final Rule. A Final Rule adds, changes, deletes, or affirms the regulatory text of the NPRM and is typically the last step of the rulemaking process. 

For more information on all these issues and other issues TIA is working on, please visit TIA Government Affairs webpage. If you have any questions, contact Chris Burroughs (burroughs@tianet.org, 703.299.5705).    





DOT Awards Direct U.S. Flights to Havana, Cuba

 

July 13, 2016 Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced tentative awards for eight U.S. airlines to provide direct flights to Havana from ten U.S. cities.  While the Department announced approval in June for flights from U.S. airlines to nine Cuban cities with international airports, the routes to-and-from Havana attracted the most significant interest from all airlines.  Eased travel restrictions from Cuba only initially allow for 20  daily flights allowed to Havana, for which U.S. airlines submitted nearly 60 bids. Overall, an agreement between the U.S. and Cuba will allow up to 110 regularly scheduled airline flights each day as relations normalize between the two countries.

The following routes were approved by the USDOT:

  • Alaska Airlines:  1 daily round-trip flight from Los Angeles (the only direct flight to Havana from the West Coast)
  • American Airlines:  4 daily round-trip flights from Miami, 1 daily round-trip flight from Charlotte
  • Delta Airlines:  1 daily round-trip flight from Atlanta, 1 daily round-trip flight from New York JFK, and 1 daily round-trip flight from Miami
  • Frontier Airlines:  1 daily round-trip flight from Miami
  • JetBlue Airlines:  2 daily round-trip flights (except one on Saturdays) from Fort Lauderdale, 1 daily round-trip flight from New York JFK, and 1 daily round-trip flight from Orlando
  • Southwest Airlines:  2 daily round-trip flights from Fort Lauderdale, 1 daily round-trip flight from Tampa
  • United Airlines:  1 weekly round-trip flight from Houston (other than Los Angeles, the only U.S. airport west of the Mississippi River with direct access to Havana), 1 daily round-trip flight from Newark Liberty

Interested parties have the opportunity to submit comments or objections to USDOT until July 22, 2016. 

Important opportunities will be available to logistics companies as Cuban-American relations improve and economic relations resume, such as serving companies that will invest in Cuba or moving freight through Cuban ports such as the Port of Mariel.  To investigate those opportunities, TIA organized a logistics delegation to Cuba in March 2016, which met with Cuban officials, entrepreneurs, and academics.  To learn more about the potential for doing business in Cuba, or to be more involved in TIA’s International Logistics Conference, please contact Will Sehestedt at sehestedt@tianet.org or 703-299-5713.

 




FMCSA Increases Civil Penalties Per Inflation Adjustment

 

June 27, 2016 - The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published in the Federal Register an interim rule that increases civil penalties. Specific to 3PLs, a person who knowingly operates as a broker in violation of the Agency’s registration requirements, would now be liable for a penalty not to exceed $10,282 (previously $10,000 under MAP-21).   

The Agency is required to make these increases pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.

FMCSA is required to make notice of these increases through the Federal Register and an interim rule, pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act. FMCSA finds that good cause exists for immediate implementation of this interim final rule because prior notice and comment are unnecessary, per the specific provisions of the 2015 Act.

To view a full list of penalty increases for each specific violation, please visit the Federal Register notice here.

If you have any questions, contact TIA Advocacy (advocacy@tianet.org, 703.299.5700). 






DOT Begins Study of Detention Time

June 22, 2016 - The Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General’s Office (IG) has begun the initial phases of collecting data to examine the effects of detention time at shipper and receiver docks on the trucking industry. This examination was directed to be completed by Congress within the FAST Act transportation bill. With the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) hours-of-service rules, the Office of the Inspector General said detention time that causes travel delays and lost wages for drivers often makes truckers want to drive faster to make up for lost time, or operate past the 14-hour on-duty limit and falsify their logs, creating an unsafe environment on the highways.

There have been several attempts over the last few years to implement regulations and establish a maximum number of hours a commercial motor vehicle may be reasonably detained by a shipper or receiver. In the 112th (2011) Congress, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced H.R. 756 that would establish those requirements. TIA has been and will remain opposed to a Federal Agency prescribing regulations dealing with detention time that would potentially adversely affect 3PLs. These issues should remain an issue to be handled by the free market, not through Government regulation. If you have any questions, contact TIA Advocacy at (advocacy@tianet.org, 703.299.5700).   




DOT Releases Updated Rulemakings Calendar – June

The Department of Transportation (DOT) released its monthly significant rulemakings report for June, which outlines all the projected dates for upcoming major rulemakings being undertaken by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and other DOT Agencies.

Of note in June’s report is the continued delay of the Heavy-Vehicle Speed limiters rule from Spring 2016 to Summer 2016. The NPRM was sent to the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) on May 18, 2015, and has been unexpectedly delayed over a year without being released from OMB. 

The following major rulemakings were included in the report:

  1. Carrier Safety Fitness Determination – FMCSA proposes to amend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to adopt revised methodologies that would result in a safety fitness determination (SFD). The proposed methodologies would use the BASIC scores, investigations, or a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information to determine a carrier’s SFD. 

    Stage:  NPRM

    Publication Date:  January 21, 2016 (Comments were due May 23, 2016)

  2. Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse – This rulemaking would create a central database for verified positive controlled substances and alcohol test results for CDL holders and refusals by such drivers to submit to testing. 

    Stage:  Final Rule

    Publication Date:  August 29, 2016 (Previously August 18, 2016)

  3. Electronic Logging Devices and HOS Supporting Documents – This rulemaking would establish: (1) minimum performance and design standards for hours-of-service (HOS) electronic logging devices (ELDs); (2) requirements for the mandatory use of these devices by drivers currently required to prepare HOS records of duty status (RODS); (3) requirements concerning HOS supporting documents; and (4) measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of ELDs.

    Stage:  Final Rule

    Publication Date:  November 30, 2015 (Previously October 26, 2015)

    Effective Date: Carriers and drivers who are using paper logs or logging software must transition to ELDs no later than December 18, 2017. Carriers and drivers who use AOBRDS prior to the compliance date must transition to ELDs no later than December 16, 2019. See more here.

  4. URS 2 or MAP-21 Enhancements & other updates to URS – FMCSA proposes to: 1) adjust the URS registration fee for new interstate motor carriers, freight forwarders, brokers, intermodal equipment providers (IEPs), hazardous materials safety permit (HMSP) applicants, and cargo tank facilities under FMCSA jurisdiction that must register with the Agency to operate in interstate commerce; 2) implement several MAP-21 provisions that require changes to the URS regulations, the online application for USDOT Number/Operating Authority Registration (Form MCSA-1) and MCSA-1 Instructions; 3) prohibit transfers of operating authority registration; 4) and make several technical amendments to the MCSA-1 Form and Instructions for purposes of clarification.

    Stage:  NPRM

    Publication Date:  January 18, 2017

  5. Financial Responsibility for Motor Carriers, Freight Forwarders, and Brokers – The FMCSA announces that it is considering a rulemaking to increase the minimum levels of financial responsibility for motor carriers, including liability coverage for bodily injury or property damage in the case of freight and passenger motor carriers.

     

    The legislative history of the Federal minimum insurance requirements strongly suggests that Congress recognized that crash costs would change and that DOT would regularly examine the levels and make adjustments as necessary. In completing the report Congress required under section 32104 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), FMCSA has determined that the current financial responsibility minimums are inadequate to fully cover the costs of some crashes in light of increased medical costs and DOT’s revised value of statistical life estimates. The FMCSA is also considering extending the financial responsibility requirements to private motor carriers, as authorized by section 4120 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). In addition, FMCSA is considering financial responsibility requirements for passenger carrier brokers, implementation of certain MAP-21 provisions concerning broker and freight forwarder financial responsibility, revisions of the rules concerning self-insurance and trip insurance.

    Stage:  Undetermined

    Comment Period Ended:  TBD

  6. Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters – This joint rulemaking with NHTSA would respond to petitions from ATA and Roadsafe America to require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks. The Agency believes this rule would have minimal cost, as all heavy trucks already have these devices installed, although some vehicles do not have the limit set. This rule would decrease the estimated 1,115 fatal crashes annually involving vehicles with a GVWR of over 26,000 pounds with posted speed limits of 55 mph or above. 

Stage:  NPRM

Publication Date: Summer 2016 (Previously Spring 2016)

Comment Period Ended: TBD 

Definitions:

  • Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) – An ANPRM is a published notice in the Federal Register used by the Agency to test out a proposal or solicit comments and ideas before it drafts a NPRM. An Agency is not required to publish an ANPRM, but may choose to at their discretion.
  • Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) – A NPRM is a published notice in the Federal Register that provides the public with an opportunity for public comment on the proposal before the Agency issues a Final Rule.
  • Final Rule – After the comment period of the NPRM closes, and the Agency reviews all the publicly submitted comments and analyzed them, the Agency decides whether or not to proceed with the rulemaking. If the Agency decides to proceed with the rulemaking, it would issue a Final Rule. A Final Rule adds, changes, deletes, or affirms the regulatory text of the NPRM and is typically the last step of the rulemaking process. 

For more information on all these issues and other issues TIA is working on, please visit TIA Government Affairs web page. If you have any questions, contact Chris Burroughs (burroughs@tianet.org, 703.299.5705).  


 

 

House Committee to Hold Oversight Hearing on DOL Overtime Rules 


June 8, 2016 -
 The House Education and Workforce Committee will hold an oversight hearing on June 9 entitled: “The Administration’s Overtime Rule and Its Consequences for Workers, Students, Nonprofits, and Small Business.” The hearing will examine the impacts that the new Department of Labor overtime rule that the Obama Administration released on May 18, 2016, will have on businesses throughout the United States.

The new rule will increase the salary level under which workers are eligible for overtime pay, from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $913 per week ($47,476 per year), and allow for this threshold to be automatically adjusted every three years.  Additionally, the higher salary threshold for exempting “highly compensated employees” from overtime pay will be raised from $100,000 per year to $134,004 per year, and employers may include bonus compensation as up to 10% of an employee’s salary for purposes of calculating non-“highly compensated employee” pay (previously this pay was excluded from calculation).

The updated overtime rule will go into effect on December 1, 2016, for all employers.  The Administration’s changes to the rule came after an initial proposal in 2015 which would have increased the lower salary threshold to $50,440 for a worker to be eligible for overtime.

Business organizations such as TIA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, and others opposed the increase on the grounds that these salary thresholds will harm private sector employment and make workplaces less flexible for employees.  Further, this rulemaking will have a disproportionate impact on employers in rural areas or parts of the country where costs of living are lower and where few salaries reach the exemption level.  Employees in those areas will be forced to work on an hourly basis as a result of this rulemaking.

TIA is fully supporting the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act, which is S. 2707 in the Senate and H.R. 4773 in the House.  This bill would provide statutory protections for employers and workers who will be harmed by the dramatic increase in the overtime pay thresholds.

This Act will nullify the final rule and require the Department of Labor to conduct an economic analysis on the impact that increasing the mandatory overtime salary threshold will have on small businesses, non-profit employers, and public entities.  This Act will also statutorily prohibit the automatic increase of the salary threshold that is included in the final rule.  The overtime pay threshold has never been subject to an automatic increase before, and it is important that Congress and the American public have an opportunity to carefully consider the impacts on small business of any future increase.

To support TIA and your business, please consider giving to the TIAPAC. TIA will actively use PAC contributions to support Members of Congress that are supportive of our position of less government regulations, and attempt to sway some of those Members on the fence. Please contribute HERE.

If you have any questions, contact advocacy@tianet.org or 703.299.5700.