ELDs and coercion still hung up in reg pipeline, for now

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 10/29/2015

With the road rumor mill churning out information on overtime, coupled with delays and missed projected deadlines – there remains a lot of confusion about the future of an electronic logging mandate and a rule on the prohibition on coercion

Where the regs are at
The electronic logging mandate has not had the smoothest of journeys to the final rule stage it’s currently in. Long story short, it has not hit one of the projected deadlines set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Initially they were hoping to publish a final rule by the end of September. The steps to get it there through the Office of Secretary of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget didn’t hit their projected dates. So, the Sept. 30 projected deadline was changed to Oct. 30.

That’s not going to happen either. In order for the electronic log mandate final rule to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, Oct. 30, it would have had to have cleared the Office of Management and Budget review before now. The final rule, as of Thursday, Oct. 29, remains at OMB.

The prohibition on coercion final rule is literally in the same boat.

Initially FMCSA had projected to publish a final rule that would prohibit coercion of drivers to violate the regulations by Sept. 10. The submissions to the Office of Secretary and Office of Management and Budget lagged behind. So, the new projected deadline for a final rule to be published in the Federal Register was Thursday, Oct. 29.

That obviously didn’t happen and now we’re in wait-and-see mode. The final rule prohibiting coercion is at the Office of Management and Budget and has been since July 28.

There are two options at this stage of the game for the two final rules: OMB concludes its review and the regs are green lighted for publication or they are sent back to FMCSA for more work.

Until FMCSA updates its projections for regulations in the pipeline sometime in mid-November, until OMB updates the status on the electronic logging mandate and prohibition on coercion, no one can tell you exactly when a final rule will publish. And, even when rules clear OMB, the hard-and-fast deadlines for publishing in the Federal Register are no guarantee on the exact date.

Compliance deadlines for both rules will hinge on the respective publishing dates.

Generally speaking, on a rule like electronic logs there will be a two-year phase in period before hard enforcement begins.

Prohibition on coercion is a regulation of a very different animal from anything FMCSA has done before. One can expect a phase-in period, but how long could be significantly shorter than a regulation that requires equipment or computer programming changes, or it could be longer to allow for other regs to go into effect first. The only way to know the actual deadline is once the regulation is published and the compliance date is established.

Are these rules definitely going to happen?
As with any regulation the answer remains to be seen. There are a number of hurdles even a final regulation could face.

Individuals and groups can petition for reconsideration of the regulation. Lawsuits could be filed. In short, there are no guarantees.

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