FMCSA proposes new registration fees

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President Bush signed legislation increasing the value limit on property that small businesses can expense in the year it was placed in service rather than depreciating over several years. The new law, which also extends the benefit an additional year through 2010, increases the value of property covered to $125,000 from the previous $100,000.

Truck Renting and Leasing Association said it is fighting a proposed increase in the North Carolina highway use tax and a proposed removal of the tax cap on commercial vehicles. Although legislation has yet been introduced, the increase and cap removal are being considered by some lawmakers to increase funds available for transportation projects in the state.

Clayton, Ala.-based Boyd Bros. Transportation should not have been required to pay more than $900,000 in state use tax for trucks and trailers that originally were delivered to a terminal in Ohio and that only occasionally travel through or make deliveries in the state, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals ruled. The appellate decision overturns a ruling in Barbour County Circuit Court that upheld the assessment.

Comdata Corp. announced that its Comdata Card now is accepted at the Ambassador Bridge, the international crossing located between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Drivers now can swipe a Comdata Card to pay for tolls; product fees apply.

Motor carriers would pay between $39 and $37,500, depending on fleet size, under a schedule of fees the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed for the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) Plan and Agreement. In August 2005, Congress ordered that the UCR Plan replace the Single State Registration System (SSRS) Plan by Jan. 1, 2007. Because the SSRS expired on that date, FMCSA gave the public only until June 13 to comment so it could issue a final rule as soon as possible.

Under the 2005 law, the UCR Plan is an organization that will administer the UCR Agreement – an interstate agreement governing the collection and distribution of registration and financial responsibility information provided and fees paid by motor carriers, motor private carriers, brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies. Thirty-eight states participated in the SSRS last year, and all but California and North Carolina will participate in the UCR this year. In addition, Oregon, which did not participate in the SSRS last year, will participate in the UCR.

As called for in the legislation, FMCSA last year appointed a 15-person board to recommend a fee schedule, which the agency has followed in drafting its proposal. The proposed schedule, which is the total amount to be paid by the company, is as follows:

· 0 to 2 power units, as well as brokers and leasing companies – $39.

· 3 to 5 power units – $116.

· 6 to 20 power units – $231.

· 21 to 100 power units – $806.

· 101 to 1,000 power units – $3,840.

· 1,001 power units and above – $37,500.

The fees would raise about $107.3 million in fiscal 2007, all but $5 million of which would go to participating states to replace SSRS revenues. The remaining $5 million goes for administrative expenses of the UCR Plan. For a copy of the FMCSA proposal, visit this site and search Docket No. 27871.
– Avery Vise

AMSA seeks dismissal of fuel surcharge lawsuits
The American Moving and Storage Association has asked two courts to dismiss antitrust class action lawsuits that accuse AMSA and several major van lines of acting illegally when they charged customers fuel surcharges over a four-year period. The two lawsuits were filed earlier this year in federal courts in South Carolina and Illinois. AMSA says that Congress gave responsibility for determining the reasonableness of fuel surcharges to the Surface Transportation Board, not the courts. It added that as far as it is aware, all of the money that has been paid by moving customers for fuel surcharges is passed on directly to the owner-operators.