Oklahoma's Gov. Brad Henry has reportedly signed off on a new registration rule that requires owner-operators to have residency in Oklahoma to qualify to get truck tags in the state.
This action may bring Oklahoma into compliance with the group that oversees the licensing of truckers and get the Sooner state back in the graces of other jurisdictions who have shared a dim view of Oklahoma's liberal registration policies.
Dave Nicholson at the Oklahoma office of the International Registration Plan said March 10 that Gov. Henry signed the new rule Friday and that specifics of the rule would be posted soon on the Oklahoma Tax Commission Web site.
According to sources who have seen the rule, owner-operators must furnish a street address, phone number and must satisfactorily demonstrate that you can find him or her in Oklahoma for audit purposes. The street address must be where the owner-operator's records are maintained or where the records will be delivered for purposes of audit.
An owner-operator may not use the address of a registration agent to satisfy the requirement unless the owner-operator's records are maintained at the address of the agent. The phone number must be the owner-operator's phone number, or at least someone who keeps track of where the owner-operator is trucking and can reach him or her.
To get tags in Oklahoma, you must submit documentation that clearly proves you can be located in Oklahoma for purposes of audit. Such documentation may include proof of residency, employment of owner-operator or spouse in Oklahoma; ownership of real property in Oklahoma, or even enrollment records of one or more of the owner-operator's children in an Oklahoma school.
If an owner-operator is leased to a motor carrier, that motor carrier must also prove residency. In other words, someone, either the owner-operator or the motor carrier, must be able to prove residency in Oklahoma.
What about Oklahoma owner-operators leased to an out-of-state motor carrier and who want to plate in their own home state? OOIDA's business services department reports it is dealing with trucking members who "are having a heck of a time" due to the enforcement of strict motor carrier requirements as adopted in April 2002.
The Oklahoma Tax Commission is now reviewing leases to ensure they are in strict compliance with issues of exclusive use, have adequate insurance, equipment possession under the terms of the contract and the insurance requirements. The resulting checks and verification have caused big enough delays in processing qualified Oklahoma registrants that the enforcement date has been extended to April 1, 2003.
The new owner-operator rule is part of the state's efforts to comply with the orders of the IRP's governing board. The state was sanctioned by IRP administrators in November and asked to come up with a new mileage chart and new established place of business rules for motor carriers and for owner-operators.
On Feb. 18 the IRP Dispute Resolution Committee met by conference call to review a new estimated distance chart submitted by Oklahoma as the result of a DRC order in November. The new chart, as had been required, was calculated according to actual distance traveled by carriers in the several jurisdictions. After brief discussion, the DRC approved the new chart for use.
Meanwhile, several jurisdictions have already stopped sending reciprocity fees.
Anticipating the withholding of what amounts to millions of dollars in truckers' fees, the Oklahoma Tax Commission filed a lawsuit Dec. 19 in the U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City, seeking to stop the IRP from withholding the money. The federal District Court judge in the lawsuit has set a date of March 14 to hear arguments on whether he will issue a preliminary injunction in the case.
Tim Adams, the chair of the IRP Dispute Resolution Committee, has called a special meeting of the committee, to be held by conference call April 10, 2003, to review the new rules adopted by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and to discuss the possible lifting of sanctions against Oklahoma.
by Sandi Soendker, Managing Editor