Monday, March 29, 2010

With healthcare behind them, politicians eye Independent Contractors

March 24, 2010
Dear Independent Contractor,
With the healthcare bill passed, Washington politicians will be gearing up to focus their attention elsewhere, including legislation that threatens the way millions of Americans make a living and support their families: independent contracting. Proposed federal legislation includes a complex set of new rules defining who is allowed to be an IC – more complex rules with threatened heavy penalties to deter companies from hiring ICs.
As highlighted in a recent San Jose Mercury News article, politicians continue to either miss or ignore important facts about our healing economy – particularly in Silicon Valley and other tech centers where thousands of highly-skilled ICs work in the technology sector. In an area – and industry – hit especially hard by the recession, why would our lawmakers want to do something to hamper growth and recovery? The answer is simple: hidden agendas and budget deficits.
The proposed legislation – sponsored by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. – would give the IRS more power to go after employers. Additionally, it would increase fines tenfold, meaning some fines would end up being $1 million. Startling, isn’t it?
Many politicians either refuse to see or ignore the fact that ICs are part of the solution – able to speed up economic recovery and allow businesses of all sizes to survive in today’s economic climate.
Some experts now fear a startling trend — U.S. small businesses becoming hesitant to hire ICs for fear of steep fines and confusing classification issues.
Those of us who are independent contractors – or who hire them – must act now, before it’s too late. After all, every day we’re a little closer to new laws that could do irreversible damage.
If you’re an IC – or a company that relies on them – visit www.cficf.org to voice your opinion about proposed legislation that threatens your livelihood. And as another reminder, look for continuing updates and news at www.twitter.com/IndContractors.
Sincerely,
David Dunnigan
Executive Director
Coalition for Independent Contractor Freedom

NJ Court finds Owner-Operator to be Employee for Worker's Compensation Purposes


WORKERS' COMPENSATION — SCOPE OF EMPLOYMENT
39-2-7290 Chaverri v. Cace Trucking Incorporated
, App. Div. (per curiam) (8 pp.) This appeal concerns whether an injury of petitioner, Guillermo Chaverri, occurred during the scope of his employment with respondent, Cace Trucking Incorporated. Chaverri was the owner and driver of a tractor trailer. He entered into a written lease agreement with Cace whereby Chaverri agreed to use his tractor trailer to perform hauling services exclusively for Cace. Chaverri further agreed to maintain, register and insure the tractor trailer at his own expense. Chaverri was performing maintenance on the tractor portion of the vehicle at his residence when he injured his right eye, causing him to lose the sight in that eye. The appellate panel concludes as a matter of law that the injury occurred during the scope of Chaverri's employment with Cace and consequently reverses the contrary ruling of the compensation judge.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CCJ: White House clears EOBR rule


Posted By Avery Vise On March 22, 2010 @ 5:04 am In CCJ Daily - IMG, CCJ Daily Newsletter, Feature in Slideshow, Headline News, Industry News, News, Newsletters | No Comments


NoDriverLogs

A final rule mandating electronic onboard recorders for carriers that have a history of serious noncompliance with hours-of-service rules could be just days away now that the White House Office of Management and Budget has cleared the measure. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is expected soon to publish the rule in the Federal Register. Details of the final rule won’t be public until FMCSA announces it. According to OMB’s website, the White House insisted on at least some changes to the rule that was submitted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

As proposed in January 2007, the regulation also would incorporate new performance standards for EOBRs installed in commercial motor vehicles manufactured two years after the rule’s effective date. Onboard HOS recording devices meeting FMCSA’s current requirements and voluntarily installed in CMVs manufactured before that date could continue to be used for the remainder of the service life of those CMVs. FMCSA had proposed to encourage industrywide use of EOBRs by providing certain relief from audit and recordkeeping practices.

FMCSA completed work on the rule during the Bush administration, but the White House failed to clear it before President Obama was inaugurated. A governmentwide review of pending rulemakings delayed the regulation, but DOT sent a final rule to the White House in December.

The EOBR issue isn’t settled once FMCSA publishes this rule, however. The agency has said it will consider further expanding the number of motor carriers required to install EOBRs as part of a rulemaking that also will address supporting documents for HOS compliance. FMCSA says it will consider reducing or eliminating paperwork burdens associated with supporting documents in favor of expanded EOBR use.

According to a monthly DOT report, FMCSA now plans to complete work on the EOBR/supporting documents proposal in July with publication in December. Meanwhile, the American Trucking Associations has sued FMCSA to move forward with a supporting documents rule. One of the major concerns is the agency’s decision in December 2008 to begin using satellite positioning data routinely in audits of driver logs. ATA argues that motor carriers’ obligations for maintaining supporting documents should be clear and established by regulation.

Regulatory action on EOBRs comes as safety advocates and many in Congress are calling on mandatory EOBRs industrywide. For example, Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, proposed a highway authorization bill last year that would mandate use of EOBRs in all CMVs subject to HOS rules.

Article printed from Commercial Carrier Journal: http://www.ccjdigital.com

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Video from Henry Seaton and Big Truck TV

A new video from Henry Seaton and Big Truck TV is now available.  
Unlike Wine, Cargo Claims Don't Get Better With Age (4:51)
Henry E. Seaton, Esq. / Big Truck TV

When it comes to fighting cargo claims, time is not on the carrier's side.  Henry Seaton believes a carrier has less than 24 hours to get their on-hand notice filed to have a chance at challenging or mitigating a cargo claim, so speed is of the essence.  Seaton offers valuable advice on how carriers should approach their claim to maximize their chance of a successful challenge.
More webinars and videos are available on our website at http://transportationlaw.net/webinars.html.

Friday, March 5, 2010

IMPORTANT DOT Updates


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced today regulatory guidance addressing the states’ collection of fees under the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) Plan and Agreement authorized by SAFETEA-LU.  Under the regulatory guidance, states participating in the UCR Plan and Agreement can continue to collect fees from for-hire and private motor carriers, brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies using the 2009 fee schedule pending the issuance of a new UCR rule.  Currently, 41 states participate in the UCR Plan and Agreement, and use the revenue to fund motor carrier safety and enforcement activities including roadside safety inspections, compliance reviews and safety audits for new truck and bus companies entering the industry.  
The FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for a new UCR Plan and Agreement rule on September 3, 2009. The regulatory guidance is on public display in the Federal Register March 1 and will appear in print in the Federal Register on March 2.
What does this mean?  The UCR Board was expecting actual fee brackets (not a continuation of 2009 until 2010 is established) so there will probably be a telephonic conference call to determine the next step.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

PSP and CSA 2010 Items


This maybe helpful research on CSA2010-driver records.

Hank Seaton

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The Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) that has been talked about in CSA2010 circles is becoming a reality. Enrollment in this program is now available. To obtain further information on PSP and to enroll, click here http://www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov/Pages/default.aspx 

To stay current with CSA2010, go to http://csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov/ 

Click below for the documents: 
PSP_-_TrudkingInfo_FEB24_2010.pdf
PSP_-_Automotive_Fleet_FEB24_2010.pdf

Monday, March 1, 2010

FMCSA is Not at Work Today/Where is the Stimulus?

Please see below.
Hank Seaton

Oberstar: Federal highway funding in jeopardy

Published March, 01 2010
Highway
The U.S. Senate’s failure to overcome the objections of a single Republican senator meant funding for federal highway, transit and highway safety programs was set to run out at midnight Sunday, Feb. 28, Congressman Jim Oberstar said Friday, Feb. 26.
Oberstar – who is chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure – said the expiration also may force employee layoffs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Federal Highway Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration.
The current surface transportation authorization act – the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) – was due to expire Sept. 30, 2009, but has been kept alive by a series of extensions while Congress considers a replacement authorization bill. The latest extension expired Sunday, Feb. 28.
“I find it outrageous that one senator can kill a piece of legislation and cause chaos for our cities and states,” said Oberstar, referring to Sen. James Bunning (R-Ky.). The Senate adjourned Friday, Feb. 26, without approving cash and health insurance benefit extensions for the unemployed after Bunning insisted that Congress first pay for the $10 billion package. The highway funding is part of the jobs bill.
“There are going to be other bills brought to this floor that are not going to be paid for, and I’m going to object every time they do it,” Bunning said on the Senate floor. “… At the present level of debt and if the present administration’s budget is passed, the debt of the United States will be unsustainable. ‘Unsustainable’ to me means that there is a chance of one of the rating agencies downgrading the rating on our debt. We cannot allow that to happen.”
A different bill pending in the House would extend SAFETEA-LU through the end of 2010; that bill may come up for a vote as early as Tuesday, March 2, and it is possible that the employees would not be furloughed if there is assurance that enactment of a funding bill is imminent.
In the meantime, states may have to suspend work on some road and bridge projects while they wait for their reimbursement payments from the federal government.
DOT said that it will furlough nearly 2,000 employees without pay starting today, March 1, temporarily shutting down highway reimbursements to states worth hundreds of millions of dollars, national anti-drunk driving efforts and multimillion dollar construction projects across the country.
“As American families are struggling in tough economic times, I am keenly disappointed that political games are putting a stop to important construction projects around the country,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This means that construction workers will be sent home from jobsites because federal inspectors must be furloughed.”
NHTSA said the furloughs will disrupt safety programs that operate in partnership with the states and advocacy groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).
Assistance to consumers whose goods are held hostage by rogue moving companies will be unavailable during this period. And work addressing texting while driving for commercial truck and bus drivers, electronic onboard recorders and hours of service also will be suspended.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials said the federal reimbursements of funds already expended by the states amount to roughly $800 million a week; FTA, NHTSA and FMCSA also would suspend payments, according to AASHTO.
“We are deeply concerned about the severe impacts to state and local transportation programs of this disruption of the federal highway and transit programs,” said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director. “We commend Chairman Oberstar, (House) Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi, and (Senate) Majority Leader (Harry) Reid for reaching an agreement that will enable the House to pass the Senate version of an extension of the highway and transit programs, with the understanding that a later legislative fix will revise how highway discretionary funds are to be distributed. We hope Congress can move this legislation as early in the week as possible so reimbursements to the states can resume.”

Article printed from Commercial Carrier Journal: http://www.ccjdigital.com
URL to article: http://www.ccjdigital.com/oberstar-federal-highway-funding-will-run-out-at-midnight-sunday/
Reprinted from CCJ Digital.