Bill would strengthen freight broker oversight

Sen. Olympia Snowe has introduced a bill that would strengthen regulatory oversight of brokers and freight forwarders.

On June 14, the Maine Republican introduced S. 3483, the Motor Carrier Protection Act of 2010, which was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation with one co-sponsor.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Transportation Intermediaries Association contributed to the bill. When introducing the bill, Snowe said little federal oversight is currently provided, other than requiring brokers to pay a $10,000 bond.

“According to trucking experts, a broker can rake in revenues far in excess of that $10,000 upfront payment in less than a month, allowing them to disappear in the night, losing their bond but more than making up for it in revenues stolen from hard-working truck operators who are left with nothing to show for their delivery, and no way to recoup those losses,” she said.

One group operated 12 freight broker companies over a three-year period in Georgia, defrauding truckers and evading law enforcement by continually changing business names and locations. The bill increases bond to $100,000 and applies the bonding requirement to freight forwarders.

The bill also:
• Ups requirements for entities seeking broker/forwarder authority.
• Establishes strict penalties for violations, including unlimited liability for freight charges for brokerage activities without a license or bond. 
• Authorizes private damages remedies against companies that violate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.
• Implements an annual registration requirement to renew broker/forwarder operating authority and generate revenue for FMCSA enforcement.
• Establishes strict regulations on bond providers and how bonds are administered.
• Requires separate registration numbers per authority and whatever authority used in a transaction must be in writing.