OOIDA petitions FMCSA to withhold federal funding from 20 states for enforcement, including ELDs

| August 30, 2017

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to take action against states who haven’t updated their state legal code to reflect current safety regulations. As the association contends, a state’s failure to incorporate federal safety regulations makes state personnel enforcing such regulations problematic, given lack of authority. “OOIDA contends that when FMCSA amends its regulations, the states must incorporate those amendments into state law before they can enforce them,” the association said in a press release.

Put another way by OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer in the same release: “We are concerned about numerous states issuing citations for the violation of non-existent state laws.”

Should FMCSA do what OOIDA is asking, $65 million in federal grant funding to certain states for enforcement could be in jeopardy, likewise states’ ability to enforce the federal electronic logging device mandate, among other regulations issued in recent years. The petition calls for a freeze on the “status quo, particularly with respect to the ELD mandate,” until federal funding administration issues are resolved.

As of press time, FMCSA had not responded to Overdrive inquiries about the petition. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the partnership of industry and enforcement that is responsible for establishing the out of service criteria and serving as a forum to mitigate roadside issues, declined to comment as the alliance digested the implications of the petition. Representatives from Arizona and Arkansas truck enforcement departments likewise failed to respond to queries about the petition.

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The petition was put forward partly within the context of the FMCSA’s  electronic logging device mandate final rule, which reaches the enforcement stage on Dec. 18 of this year, when truckers subject to the rule’s requirement must transition away from paper logbooks for hours of service recording.

OOIDA’s petition contends these states are more than three years behind in adopting updated federal safety regulations, which could put more than $65 million annually (based on fiscal year 2016 funding) in federal funding to the states in jeopardy if FMCSA chose to enforce state compliance. In the wake of the original report, several states objected to elements of the petition in this linked follow-up

OOIDA’s petition singles out 26 states that haven’t as yet adopted the ELD mandate final rule, while 20 of those are out of compliance with the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) and its requirement that participating states, who can receive federal grant monies within the program, adopt new regulations within three years of their effective dates.

According to regulation, FMCSA retains the option to withdraw MCSAP participation or withhold funding for states that are not compliant with stipulations laid out in 49 CFR 350.335. In fiscal year 2016, the MCSAP program granted more than $65 million in funding to the 20 states OOIDA singles out in its petition, which asks that FMCSA withhold funding until the states come into compliance.

“OOIDA is alleging FMCSA is neglecting their duty to provide oversight of the MCSAP program,” says David McKane, program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation’s truck-enforcement activities. “In addition, non-compliant states should not be receiving MCSAP funds.” Oregon, McKane notes, hasn’t applied for or received any MCSAP dollars for the last three fiscal years for reasons he partly explained in prior reporting in Overdrive, nor is he aware of a state MCSAP grant application for FY 2018.

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“OOIDA makes an interesting argument in my opinion,” McKane adds. “I’m looking out for the FMCSA response.”

OOIDA added that it believed its petition is further evidence to support Texas Rep. Brian Babin’s proposed two-year delay for the ELD mandate, H.R. 3282, with 43 current cosponsors. “These are just examples of the monumental reasons this mandate is not ready for prime time,” added Spencer. “Too many states are not ready to rollout the mandate and can’t possibly be ready by the Dec. 18 deadline.”

Interested readers can access a copy of the petition at this link.

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