- Report Published -
|The Administration of Motor Carrier Regulation and Revenue Collection|
|State Corporation Commission|
|HJR 212 (Regular Session, 1994)|
|Several years ago the General Assembly recognized that the programs regulating the motor carrier industry in the Commonwealth of Virginia were fragmented and, in certain instances, duplicative, leading to inefficiency and a burden on the industry. Several studies have been conducted in recent years examining various aspects of the motor carrier industry. In 1994, the General Assembly passed HJR 212, which requested that the Motor Carrier Division of the State Corporation Commission (SCC) provide a comprehensive report on the service to the motor carrier industry, and recommend ways to simplify regulation to achieve "one-stop shopping."|
It should be noted that running concurrently with the conduct of this. study were reviews by the Governor's Commission on Government Reform and the Secretary of Transportation's Strategic Planning Committee, which examined the same or similar issues in attempting to address the "one-stop shopping" concept.
The SCC has consulted with many people from several agencies actively involved in some aspect of regulating the motor carrier industry -- namely the Departments of Motor Vehicles, Transportation and State Police. Representatives from the motor carrier industry were also contacted and provided significant information to this study.
The SCC is well aware of the importance of trucking in Virginia, and realizes the current system lends itself to increased costs and inefficiency for both state government and the motor carrier industry. This study discusses the many aspects of the motor carrier industry and the agencies responsible for each program. It is clear that the Commonwealth of Virginia must see the motor carrier as a customer and adjust its programs to allow for the best customer service possible.
The SCC received some critical comments by the Virginia Trucking Association (VTA) on our interpretation of one-stop shopping. These comments indicated "that the trucking industry's concept of one-stop shopping consists of consolidating 'administrative' functions such as vehicle registration, permit issuance, road tax registration, etc. under one entity and police enforcement functions under a separate entity. The separation of these responsibilities ensures a system of checks and balances in the enforcement and administration of motor carrier regulations." The Department of State Police also supported this separation of functions, noting that enforcement should not be a part of one-stop shopping.
In developing recommendations for this document, the sec carefully reviewed the concerns of the industry. Presumably, these were summarized by the VTA in their comments to the Governor's Commission on Government Reform. These comments indicate that there is no single agency with oversight authority to enforce regulations governing motor carrier operations. The report goes on to indicate that the VTA has received "complaints and inquiries about difficulties with local enforcement agencies in getting trucks put back 'in service' after safety defects that led to an 'out of service' order were repaired." They have also received complaints about local agencies seizing vehicle license plates and registrations as opposed to the sticker procedure. Further, the VTA states that they hear concerns from members that citations are being issued for trivial violations, and motor carrier safety inspections are being used to meet "ticket quotas." Finally, the VTA states that "...motor carriers must often cope with different interpretations of regulations, different enforcement policies and practices, and duplicate enforcement activities...."
In light of these statements, the SCC is of the opinion that one-stop shopping ought to incorporate enforcement and compliance activities as well as administrative functions. To have administrative and enforcement functions in two separate entities would only lead to communication problems and discrepancies in the interpretation of regulations, exactly what the industry is trying to prevent. The SCC·s recommendations and conclusions were therefore developed toward that end.
After careful review and analysis, the SCC is of the opinion that the Commonwealth should move toward a concept of one-stop shopping. Because the Motor Carrier Division deals with the motor carrier industry exclusively, it naturally follows that the SCC should be the focus of the "one-stop shopping" concept. An analysis of the motor carrier regulations reveals that the SCC is involved in every function of the motor carrier industry. Personnel at the SCC are well versed in motor carrier functions and requirements. Further, the SCC is currently in the process of implementing the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA), a major component of motor carrier regulation. The SCC also has the added advantage of having the powers of a court of record, so that judicial orders can be issued without burdening the local court systems.
The following recommendations are designed to implement the "one-stop shopping" concept. This approach will create a more efficient, cost effective, customer service oriented atmosphere for the motor carrier industry.
1. A customer service unit should be created at each weigh station to serve the motor carrier industry.
2. The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer program should be transferred from the Department of State Police to the State Corporation Commission.
3. The State Corporation Commission should be allowed to issue the overweight/over-dimensional permit with Virginia Department of Transportation and Commonwealth Transportation Board approval.
4. The Department of Motor Vehicles should issue a unique license plate to commercial motor vehicles with a registered gross weight of 26,000 pounds or less.
5. The State Corporation Commission should become a limited branch Department of Motor Vehicles agent to service the motor carrier industry.
6. Virginia should raise the insurance limits for for-hire carriers to agree with the federal requirements.
7. All Virginia-based private and for-hire Interstate Commerce Commission exempt carriers operating wholly in Virginia should be required to file certification of liability insurance with the State Corporation Commission.
8. All International Fuel Tax Agreement, International Registration Plan, and Single State Registration System audits, along with audits of bulk fuel used exclusively in subject motor vehicles, should be conducted by the State Corporation Commission.
9. The motor carrier safety compliance review program should be transferred from the Department of State Police to the State Corporation Commission.
10. Those localities listed under Code of Virginia § 46.2-1001 (out of service authority) should be required to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Department of State Police to provide for uniform issuance of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance nationally recognized decal.
11. Include the State Corporation Commission in Code of Virginia § 46.2-1001 (out of service authority).
12. The collection of liquidated damages should be transferred from the Department of Motor Vehicles to the State Corporation Commission.
The SCC is pleased to report that based on the data available, all of these recommendations can be achieved without requiring a raise in taxes or identifying other additional revenue sources. One-stop shopping can be achieved.