In its first official act, the new Unified Carrier Registration board of directors on Tuesday, June 13 unanimously approved a resolution urging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to support a 12-month extension of the single-state registration system. As part of last year’s transportation act, Congress repealed the SSRS effective Jan. 1, 2007, and ordered it replaced with the new UCR system.
Implementing the UCR by Jan. 1, 2007, is a daunting challenge. The board’s work to draft an agreement and proposed fee schedule began only this week. According to the resolution, some states still need enabling legislation to participate in the UCR, and all states must develop and approve their UCR plans.
Even the SSRS data needed to determine fee levels hasn’t been collected. And once everything is in place, motor carriers will need to be educated on how to handle UCR requirements. That’s not a simple matter, as the UCR will cover one large segment of the industry – private carriers – that has not been subject to the SSRS.
Thirty-eight states participate in the SSRS. If the UCR is not in place when the SSRS ceases, states could lose as much as $100 million in revenues used for motor carrier safety enforcement and related programs.
Congress would have to approve any extension of the SSRS, although the resolution passed by the board does not acknowledge that fact. There was some concern among FMCSA legal counsel that a board resolution calling on Congress to delay the repeal would violate laws against federal agencies lobbying Congress.
In other action, Bryan Price, transportation specialist in the FMCSA Pennsylvania Division Office, told other board members that the agency’s current position is that the fee schedule that ultimately will be adopted will not require a rulemaking. Instead, the Department of Transportation plans to issue the fee schedule as a notice, giving interested parties an opportunity to comment. But the schedule wouldn’t be subject to all the regulations governing rulemaking proceedings, Price said.
The first UCR board meeting was held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Transportation Specialists, an organization of state agencies involved in transportation safety, insurance and consumer protection. At its meeting, NCSTS members adopted a resolution asking that the UCR board designate it as a clearinghouse and depository of information, and as a depository for the collection and distribution of fees under the UCR. The board did not act on that issue.
The UCR board plans to meet again in mid-July.
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