List of Accomplishments
Indemnification in Motor Carrier Contracts: It is not unusual for shippers to require motor carriers to sign contracts indemnifying the shipper from any liability, including the shipper’s own negligent or wrongful acts. These provisions transfer the shipper’s liability to the motor carrier. The result is not only unfair to the carrier, but it removes incentives for the shipper to maintain a safe workplace. MMTA made this the Association’s key legislative priority in 2007. We were successful. As of October 1, 2007, any clause in a motor carrier transportation contract which indemnifies a party against liability arising out of that party’s own negligence or wrongdoing is void and unenforceable. This law protects motor carriers from a shipper’s abuse of power.
Fuel Taxes: In the 2011 session of the Maryland General Assembly, legislation was introduced that would have increased the state’s motor fuel tax by as much as 15 cents per gallon. MMTA and its members rolled into action, taking 50 trucks to Annapolis to protest these proposals. Members gathered in front of the Capital to tell lawmakers and the media how an increase would cripple their businesses, inflate consumer prices and stall the economic recovery. This issue was revisited in 2012 when the Governor introduced a bill that would have applied the state’s 6% sales tax to motor fuels, thereby increasing the price of diesel by about 20 cents per gallon. MMTA vigorously opposed the increases, which were ultimately defeated.
Unemployment Insurance and Owner Operators: In 2003, MMTA met with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) to discuss the status of owner-operators when calculating Maryland unemployment insurance. The group reviewed the long-time relationship between independent owner-operators and motor carriers. MMTA requested that DLLR issue an Administrative Directive providing guidance to its auditors that owner-operators should not be considered motor carrier employees when conducting unemployment insurance audits. DLLR elected not to take such steps, saying that each case would be decided on an individual basis. MMTA continued its fight, and with the assistance of Senator Thomas "Mac” Middleton, was successful in getting legislation passed in 2005 clarifying that work performed by owner operators of Class F tractors and Class E trucks is not covered employment for the purposes of calculating unemployment insurance, saving the industry thousands of dollars each year.
Moving Estimates and Price Caps: In 2011 legislation was introduced to require mandatory estimates on all household goods moves, and cap the amount a mover could charge at 110% of the estimate, regardless of the move’s actual cost. The MMTA Maryland Movers Conference worked closely with the bill’s sponsor, ultimately revising the legislation to protect legitimate movers ability to bill for additional services requested by the consumer, as well as reasonable, unanticipated cost increases outside the mover’s control. The new law protects the legitimate moving industry, as well as consumers who are often victimized by rogue companies that try to jack-up prices after taking possession of a consumer’s belongings.
Grant Programs for Environmentally Friendly Trucks: In 2011 and 2012 MMTA worked closely with the Maryland Energy Administration and the Maryland Department of the Environment to provide the industry with cost-saving grants to update fleets with newer, environmentally-friendly technologies. These include:
Increased Truck Penalties: In a 1999 accident, a Canadian motor carrier was hauling an improperly-secured backhoe that hit a pedestrian bridge on I-695 in Maryland. As a result, the Maryland Department of Transportation spent two years attempting to revise the penalties for oversize and overweight violations to allow for imprisonment of both the driver AND the company owner if the violations resulted in death or bodily injury. These criminal penalties would have been applied to the company owner even if he or she was completely unaware of the violation. After a lengthy battle, MMTA was successful in defeating the legislation.
Sales Tax on Services: In recent years, the Maryland General Assembly has often considered legislation that would expand the state’s sales tax to dozens of services, such as vehicle maintenance and repair, as well as household good moving and storage. These bills would place our members who provide such services at a serious competitive disadvantage with their counterparts in bordering states. Thanks to vigorous opposition, the expansion of the sales tax to services has been consistently defeated.
- Idle Reduction Grant: This grant program reduced the costs for installing trucks with idle reduction devices like alternative power units and bunk heaters. The program provided a 50% grant off the list price of the installed technology, capped at $4,000 per truck.
- Electric Truck Voucher Program: This 2012 voucher program provided $20,000 towards the purchase of electric trucks over 10,000 lbs.
- Port Dray Truck Grant: The Port of Baltimore’s Clean Diesel Program awards $20,000 to help assist port operators in voluntarily replacing their older trucks with a 2007 or newer vehicle