News roundup, March 6: Truckers gain another small victory in case against Rhode Island truck tolls

Updated Mar 9, 2020

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, March 6, 2020:

Court denies Rhode Island DOT petition to rehear truck tolls case
In another small victory for opponents of trucks-only tolls, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First District has denied a petition from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation for a rehearing of the case over tolls, which will keep the case under federal jurisdiction.

A judge ruled in December that ruled that the American Trucking Associations’ lawsuit over the tolls could be heard in a federal court. RIDOT challenged that ruling in January to try to keep the case in state courts.

A district court ruled in March 2019 that Rhode Island’s tolls were considered taxes under the Tax Injunction Act, which says federal courts do not have jurisdiction over state taxes. ATA’s lawsuit argues that the tolls discriminate against interstate trucking companies and are unconstitutional because they “impede the flow of interstate commerce.”

The case will now proceed in U.S. district court unless Rhode Island decides to appeal further to the Supreme Court.

Motion picture haulers seek waiver from Drug/Alcohol Clearinghouse regs
A group representing carriers that provide transportation services to and from theatrical, commercial, television and motion picture production sites is petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for relief from the CLD Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule.

Motion Picture Compliance Solutions requests that its member companies not be required to conduct a full query of the clearinghouse when hiring a driver, but instead conduct limited queries before one of its member companies hires a driver for a project.

MPCS says if the limited query indicates that information about the driver exists in the clearinghouse, the driver would not be allowed to perform safety-sensitive functions unless and until a full query shows the driver isn’t prohibited from driving a truck.  MPCS serves as a consortium for its members.

FMCSA is seeking public comment on the request, which can be made here for 30 days.