May 2015

Fleet Management News & Business Info | Commercial Carrier Journal

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LEADING NEWS, TRUCKING MARKET CONDITIONS AND INDUSTRY ANALYSIS A U.S. senator who recently vowed to introduce legisla- tion to reform the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wrote a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx question- ing both the intent and purpose of FMCSA's QCMobile smartphone app release. In her letter last month, U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) took aim at FMCSA's Compliance Safety Accountability program and QCMobile's role in making CSA's percentile rankings more acces- sible to third parties and the public. The app was released just a day after Fischer said she intended to produce legislation to reform FMCSA, citing problems with CSA as part of the reason. Fischer references in her letter a 2014 report from the Government Accountability Office that con- cluded FMCSA does not have enough data or enough quality data to produce accurate or com- plete rankings for carriers. "I have serious concerns about FMCSA's release of the app and the agency's decision to use resources to enhance public access to inac- curate data," Fischer writes. The American Trucking Associations called the move "reck- lessness cloaking itself as transpar- ency." GAO's Susan Fleming said the app has given her agency "a little bit of heartburn," calling QCMobile "another way of publicly displaying information we don't consider to be reliable." – James Jaillet U .S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in late March resubmitted to Congress his and the White House's highway funding plan, a six-year $478 billion trans- portation reauthorization package that ups both the length and the price tag from last year's more modest Grow America Act. The latest bill retains the same name. Also in mid-April, the U.S. House intro- duced a bill that would tie the current flat-rate fuel tax to inflation as a long-term highway funding measure and appropriate an immediate $12 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to ensure short-term solvency. Meanwhile, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) intro- duced their Investment in Transportation Act highway funding bill, which would use a repa- triation tax of 6.5 percent to shore up the HTF. Chief among the Grow America Act's highlights for trucking is a measure of driver pay reform that would require drivers to be compensated for all on-duty hours not spent driving. The stipulation would require carriers to pay drivers at least the rate of federal minimum wage for detention time at shippers and receivers and "other non-driving work periods." The legislation also designated $18 billion to planning multimodal freight networks. It would award money to projects that ship- pers, transportation companies and other stakeholders deem would improve U.S. freight flow efficiency. The bill relies on repatriation taxes – a 14 percent rate meant to incentivize com- panies to bring previously untaxed foreign earnings back to the United States – as its funding measure. The White House said the repatriation tax would produce nearly $250 billion in revenue and would help fund the $317 billion designated to roads and bridges in the next six fiscal years. FMCSA would get $4.659 billion, starting at $669 million next year and rising to $831 million by the bill's 2021 fiscal year end date. One provision struck a nerve with some both in the trucking industry and outside of it: If passed, the bill would remove the current ban on tolling existing interstate lanes. The same provision was included in the bill's 2014 version. The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates said the measure is "the worst possible approach to raising transportation revenue" and will find little support. "The idea has already been rejected by lawmakers, the public and community leaders in the few states with a federal exception to the tolling prohibition," said Julian Walker, ATFI spokesperson. "Tolls also divert heavy highway traffic onto secondary streets, which leads to pre- mature road breakdown that costs local taxpayers, Scan the QR code with your smartphone or visit letters to sign up for the CCJ Daily Report, a daily e-mail newsletter filled with news, analy- sis, blogs and market condition articles. COMMERCIAL CARRIER JOURNAL | MAY 2015 9 Senator chastises DOT over CSA app DOT, White House submit longer Grow America highway bill Continued on page 12 Congress has until May 31 to produce legislation to continue highway funding.

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