SPECIAL REPORT: What is really happening with the UCR filings?

By Sandi Soendker, Land Line editor-in-chief | Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced it will host a meeting on Oct. 26 that will be open to the public via conference call. While details have not been disclosed, DOT’s memo identifies the “matters to be considered” to be the implementation of the Unified Carrier Registration Plan and the work of the UCR Board.

It seems like a meeting that would require you prepare with a massive caffeine fix. You might need one just to read this account.

But after you do, we hope you’ll understand what is going on with the UCR filings that many of you readers are scratching your heads over right now.

Currently at the top of the UCR Board’s task list is working with the FMCSA on reduction of the 2018 and 2019 UCR fees, getting those lowered fees approved and finally made public. The UCR Agreement applies to motor carriers, private carriers, freight forwarders, brokers and leasing companies.

The FMCSA announces the monthly meetings of the UCR Board in the Federal Register. The Sept. 14 meeting, however, slipped through the cracks and was not announced by the FMCSA, as required. Turns out, it was an important meeting because it was when the Board discussed the fees and when they were due.

Since the UCR money collected was in excess of what it needed, the fees now need to be lowered. The new amount was recommended to the FMCSA by the UCR back on March 22. The UCR fees are determined by the Secretary of the DOT based on recommendation of the Board. But the government was slow to move on the approval process. As the normal Oct. 1 filing date approached and still nobody knew how much to pay, the Board decided to recommend extending the 2018 renewal to Nov. 1.

Enter a chronic lawsuit filer whose companies handle permits for customers. On behalf of Twelve Percent Logistics Inc., et al, the Small Business in Transportation Coalition filed suit against the UCR Board. Not because those who pay may pay less, but will have less time to file (60 days instead of 90). As it turns out, the Sunshine Act requires FMSCA to post notice of the meeting, and they normally do. This time, they forgot and got sued.

Yesterday, the district court in D.C. agreed it was a bad thing to not announce the meeting but didn’t agree with the plaintiff’s charge that huge damage was being done. The court concludes that “plaintiffs are not entitled to the drastic relief they seek.”

Hands were slapped, and now we are moving on.

An Oct. 26 meeting quickly planned by the FMCSA is no doubt to satisfy the complaint in the lawsuit and push forward on approval of the reduced fees. Like a do-over.

The agency better hurry with that. Those fees still have to be approved by all and published in the Federal Register in order to make up the new fee chart.

The meeting will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Any interested person may call 877-422-1931, passcode 2855443940, to listen and participate.

The Cliff’s Notes of this are: OOIDA is still advising members not to pay until the UCR fees are established because they are probably going to be lower and you’d be paying too much. It’s still likely that the filing period will be Nov. 1 through end of December.

Related article:
UCR filings: Don’t do it yet, and here’s why

 

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