Congratulations to Our Newest CTBs

We would like to congratulation our FIVE new TIA Certified Transportation Brokers:

Jonathan Hannah, CTB
Ben Reindl, CTB
Tami Risoen, CTB
Spencer Ruble, CTB
Aida Sabic, CTB

We are dedicated to the professional development of our staff; and, we appreciate the effort they put forth to achieve this designation. It was tough. Over 50% of the C. L. Services, Inc. staff is certified by the Transportation Intermediaries Association as a CTB.

House T&I Committee Approves Subcommittee Assignments and Oversight Plan

On January 23rd, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held their first official meeting of the 113th Congressional session. The meeting was the committee organizational meeting to finalize and approve subcommittee assignments and establish an oversight plan of action for the congressional session. First term Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-9th/PA) formally announced that; Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd/NJ) will serve as Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-50th/CA) will serve as Chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee, Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11th/PA) will serve as Chairman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee, Congressman Tom Petri (R-6th/WI) will serve as Chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, Congressman Jeff Denham (R-10th/CA) will serve as Chairman of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, and Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-7th/OH) will serve as Chairman of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee.

Additionally, the Committee established the oversight plan of action for the 113th Congress. The committee announced that it will be spending a majority of its time focusing on the implementation of the provisions contained in the MAP-21 bill, which was signed into law by President Obama on July 6, 2013. The Committee will also conduct future hearings on FMCSA’s CSA initiative, Hours-of-Service regulations, highway safety, tolling, and a variety of other issues. For more information, the committee’s oversight plan of action can be viewed online.

The Committee also announced the formation of several “special” panels that will look at and address issues that fall under multiple subcommittees’ jurisdiction. Chairman Shuster announced that Congressman John Duncan (R-2nd/NJ) will chair these special panels in the 113th Congress.

DOT IG Begins Audit of CSA

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General’s (IG) Office announced today that they have officially begun their audit of FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative. The initiative, which aims to measure and prioritize safety levels for motor carriers through crash and other data factors, has drawn criticism from Members of Congress and the transportation industry for how it measures and scores truck safety.

On September 13, 2012, the House Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held an oversight hearing entitled: “Evaluating the Effectiveness of DOT’s Truck and Bus Safety Program.” At the hearing TIA Board Member Bruce Johnson, C.H. Robinson Worldwide testified on the adverse effects to the brokerage industry brought about by the CSA initiative.

Following the hearing, Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman John Duncan (R-2nd/TN) and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-4th/OR) made an official request for the DOT IG to audit the program and evaluate FMCSA’s implementation of CSA. Specifically, they requested that the audit assess whether FMCSA has (1) established adequate controls to ensure the quality of the data used to evaluate carrier performance and risk, and (2) effectively implemented CSA enforcement interventions.

The audit is scheduled to begin shortly and should take a few months to formally complete.

DOT Reiterates Marijuana Not Authorized

On December 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy Compliance issued a Notice to address the recent passage of state initiatives purporting to legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes.

The DOT requires testing of applicants and employees in safety-sensitive transportation positions – such as pilots, truck drivers, train engineers, ship captains, school bus drivers, and pipeline emergency response personnel – for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP). Applicants must be drug tested before they begin performing DOT-covered safety-sensitive duties, and employees must be drug tested in certain circumstances, including following an accident, randomly, and when reasonable suspicion of drug use exists. All confirmed positive drug tests are reviewed by a medical review officer (MRO). During that review process, the test subject is permitted to provide the MRO with information that would explain the positive test result, such as a prescription. If the test subject provides a legitimate medical explanation for the confirmed positive test result, then the MRO will report the test result to the (prospective) employer as verified negative. If the test subject does not provide a legitimate medical explanation, he or she must be removed from safety-sensitive duties and referred to a substance abuse professional for evaluation.

After the passage of medical marijuana laws by several states, the DOT took the position that an MRO may not report a confirmed positive test for marijuana as verified negative based on information that a physician recommended that the test subject use marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of a debilitating medical condition. In October 2009, the DOT’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy Compliance issued a Notice stating that it “want[ed] to make it perfectly clear” that its drug and alcohol testing regulations “do[] not authorize ‘medical marijuana’ under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test result.” The DOT emphasized that “marijuana remains a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act” and that it “remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the [DOT’s] drug testing regulations to use marijuana.”

Not surprisingly, the DOT has responded similarly to the passage by Colorado and Washington of laws purporting to legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes. On December 3, 2012, the DOT’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy Compliance issued a Notice stating that it “want[ed] to make it perfectly clear that the state initiatives will have no bearing on the [DOT’s] regulated drug testing program . . . [which] does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason. Therefore, [MROs] will not verify a drug test as negative based upon learning that the employee used ‘recreational marijuana’ when states have passed ‘recreational marijuana’ initiatives.” The DOT also took the opportunity to reiterate its position regarding medical marijuana use.

The bottom line is that applicants for and employees in safety-sensitive transportation positions will not be allowed to explain away a confirmed positive test for marijuana based on recreational or medical use purportedly authorized by state law.

CARB Regulations to Take Effect in One Month

The new California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations take effect on January 1, 2013. These include the Transport Refrigeration Unit (TRU) Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) regulation and the Heavy-Duty (Tractor-Trailer) Greenhouse Gas (GHG) regulation.

In summary, the TRU ATCM requires brokers and forwarders to contract with and ensure compliance of all reefer units traveling on California highways and railways. This regulation will affect all brokers and forwarders regardless of where they are domiciled.

The Heavy-Duty (Tractor-Trailer) GHG regulation currently only holds California based brokers (this includes agents and remote offices) responsible for ensuring compliance on all 53ft box-type trailers (including dry-van and reefers) and the heavy-duty tractors that haul them traveling on California highways.

If a motor carrier is found to be non-compliant and operating on a California highway, the broker, the carrier, the driver, the shipper, and the receiver could be subject to a $1,000 fine per incident.

FMCSA Clarified Brokerage Licensing

On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law H.R. 4348, the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21), the all-encompassing transportation reauthorization bill. The MAP-21 language included the Fighting Fraud in Transportation Act (FFIT), which was the compromised legislative language carefully crafted by the three leading transportation trade associations; the American Trucking Association (ATA), the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), and the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA).

Included in the law is clarification language that states that entities providing interstate brokerage services must comply with all licensing and registration requirements. TIA staff was contacted by our counterparts from the Airfreight Forwarders Associations (AfA) and the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA), who expressed concerns over this language and felt like they would be “wrongfully” included to the bonding and licensing requirements. TIA and our counterparts were able to work out a compromise to exempt these entities to the extent that these entities are engaging in their normal business activities as defined by their specific statutory language.

Officials from the AfA and NCBFAA recently met with FMCSA staff to ensure proper interpretation of this language by the Agency. FMCSA was able to confirm that customs brokers, NVOCCs, and indirect air carriers who arrange for trucking in order to facilitate or otherwise participate in the through movement of international cargo via ocean or air will not by subject to brokerage licensing and registration requirements. FMCSA officials did make a point to promulgate that if these entities are arranging for trucking in a purely domestic context regardless of having a license and authority from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) they are subject to FMCSA brokerage licensing and registration requirements.

FMCSA Announces Improvements to the SMS

On August 24, 2012, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) posted in the Federal Register a final notice a package of improvements to the Carrier Safety Measurement System (SMS) as part of the Agency’s broader Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) initiative.

The following provisions will take effect in December 2012:
Strengthening the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC by moving cargo/load securement violations from the Cargo-Related BASIC to the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC.Renaming the Cargo-Related BASIC the HM BASIC.

Better Align the SMS with the Intermodal Equipment Provider (IEP) regulations.

Aligning violations that are included in SMS with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) inspection levels by eliminating the vehicle violations derived from driver-only inspections and driver violations from vehicle-only inspections.

Improving the identification of passenger carriers.

Modifying the SMS website display by changing current terminology and make the distinguish between crashes with injuries and crashes with fatalities. For example: “Insufficient Data” and “Inconclusive”, to fact based definitions that clarify the carrier’s status in each BASIC.

Removing 1 to 5 mph speeding violations.

Lowering the severity weight for speeding violations that do not designate the amount above the speed limit the carrier was traveling.

Aligning paper and electronic logbook violations.

Changing the name of the “Fatigued Driving (Hours-of-Service) BASIC” to the “HOS Compliance BASIC.”

R.I.P. Donald Gwarjanski aka Dan Jetski

We are mourning the tragic loss of our Intern, Donald Gwarjanski. He passed away on August 18, 2012. Don will be dearly missed by everyone at C. L. Services, Inc. He was a treasure to have on our team — we are better people for having known Don.

Employee of the 2nd Quarter 2012 Brian Boston

C. L. Services, Inc. is proud to announce Brian Boston as Employee of the 2nd Quarter 2012. Brian is a relative newcomer to our company however, since day one he has demonstrated a strong commitment and professionalism to his customers and to his position in the sales department, as part of the new business development team. Everyone at the company has great respect for Brian. We are truly proud that he works at C. L. Services, Inc. Congratulations to Brian Boston!!

FMCSA Announces new CSA Crash Weight Research Plan

The following was released today by the FMCSA, in regards to their new CSA crash weighting research plan.

“FMCSA’s top priority is safety. Over the past two years, the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program has been working successfully to make the Nation’s roads safer. CSA aims to identify motor carrier safety problems earlier through better use of data, with the end goal of reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities.”

“As part of this commitment to safety, FMCSA continually identifies ways to advance the efficiency and effectiveness of its safety programs, including CSA. In this spirit FMCSA is announcing a focused initiative to analyze a process for updating the 100,000 annual State-reported crash records to include a determination of a motor carrier’s role in a crash.”

“Today, the crash reports submitted by the States do not include a determination of whether the motor carrier is responsible for causing the crash. Analysis shows that the current process of including all crashes a motor carrier is involved in is a good predictor of future crash risk.”

“That said, the agency recognizes that additional crash data might further sharpen the ability of the SMS to identify carriers that pose the highest risk. Therefore the agency is conducting a comprehensive analysis which includes the below key steps:

  • A broad study of PARs across the Nation will attempt to determine whether they provide sufficient, consistent, and reliable information that can be used to determine the carrier’s role in a given crash and what other information, including input from other entities in the outcome of a crash determination, should be used to supplement PARs for maximum reliability.
  • FMCSA will conduct analysis to determine if the carrier’s role in a given crash is a better indicator of future crash risk. If so, the analysis will determine the impact of weighting crashes differently in SMS.
  • Throughout this analysis, research will also be reviewed from similar programs in other countries (e.g., Canada) to understand their analysis, processes, and applicability to SMS.”

“The executive summary of FMCSA’s Crash Weighting Research Plan is posted on the CSA website (http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/CrashWeightingResearchPlan_7-2012.pdf).”

“The results of this study will be available in the summer of 2013. Based on the results, FMCSA will develop the Agency’s plan forward for determining a carrier’s role in a crash and the potential use of this new information in the Agency’s safety programs– including SMS.”

“FMCSA is committed to continually improving SMS, in a thoughtful, methodical and transparent manner, to ensure that it continues to aid in carrying out FMCSA’s critical safety mission.”