President Obama Signs Veterans Tax Credit Bill

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by Jim Dao

If anyone doubted that veterans remain potent political symbols, they need look no further than Congress’s ability to set aside partisan gridlock last week and overwhelmingly enact legislation providing tax credits to businesses that hire veterans. Flanked by veterans advocates, President Obama signed the bill into law this morning.

The “VOW to Hire Heroes Act” will provide tax credits of up to $2,400 for employers who hire veterans who have been unemployed at least 4 weeks; up to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been unemployed longer than 6 months; and up to $9,600 for businesses that hire veterans who have service-connected disabilities and have been unemployed longer than 6 months.

Though the unemployment rate among veterans of all ages is actually lower than the overall population, the rate is high among veterans of the current wars, standing at 12 percent, compared with about 9 percent for the population at large. The higher rate is driven largely by widespread joblessness among veterans under 25 years old, whose unemployment rate was 30 percent last month.

There has long been debate among economists over whether tax credits actually create jobs, or simply reward businesses for hiring people that they would have hired anyway. In, Daniel Indiviglio wrote recently that the tax credits might create at most a few new jobs, but that they were mainly likely to encourage the hiring of veterans over nonveterans when their qualifications are similar.

“Few employers will create new jobs from scratch just to try to bring on more veterans and obtain the credit,” Mr. Indiviglio wrote.

But Mr. Indiviglio also asserted that shifting the proportion of new hires toward veterans would be a good thing by helping to correct what he called “a grave injustice.”

“If these brave men and women chose not to fight for their country but merely remained civilians instead years ago, then many would more likely be employed today,” he said.

That sentiment seems to be shared across ideological lines on Capitol Hill and in many business circles right now.

An editorial on last week, for instance, made the case that even if the tax credits do not stimulate the economy or create new jobs, they are morally the right thing to do.

“We have no illusion that these credits are going to create lots of new jobs,” the editorial said. “But they will encourage employers to favor veterans when hiring. In a robust, growing economy, that might be an unnecessary accommodation to returning military personnel. However, after a decade of brutal warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, where fighting men and women have served grueling multiple deployments, it seems a small and entirely just recompense.”

On a White House blog, a Marine Corps veteran, Justin Constantine, wrote on Monday that the tax credits were not “an overall panacea to our veterans’ unemployment problems,” but when combined... Continue reading


Interstate Truck, Bus Drivers Banned from Using Handheld Phones

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handheld.jpgThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on Wednesday, Nov. 23, issued their long-awaited joint final rule specifically prohibiting interstate commercial truck and bus drivers from using handheld cell phones while operating their vehicles.

Drivers who violate the restriction will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle for multiple offenses. Additionally, states will suspend a driver’s commercial driver’s license after two or more serious traffic violations. Commercial truck and bus companies that allow their drivers to use handheld cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000.

“When drivers of large trucks, buses and hazardous materials take their eyes off the road for even a few seconds, the outcome can be deadly,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “I hope that this rule will save lives by helping commercial drivers stay laser-focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that about four million commercial drivers will be affected by the final rule. “It’s just too dangerous for drivers to use a handheld cell phone while operating a commercial vehicle,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “Drivers must keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and head in the game when operating on our roads. Lives are at stake.”

FMCSA said that while driver distraction studies have produced mixed results, its own research has shown that using a handheld cell phone while driving requires a commercial driver to take several steps beyond what is required for using a hands-free mobile phone, including searching and reaching for the phone. Commercial drivers reaching for an object, such as a cell phone, are three times more likely to be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event, according to FMCSA, and dialing a hand-held cell phone makes it six times more likely that commercial drivers will be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event.

In September 2010, FMCSA issued a regulation banning text messaging while operating a commercial truck or bus, and PHMSA followed with a companion regulation in February 2011, banning texting by intrastate hazardous materials drivers. “Needless injuries and deaths happen when people are distracted behind the wheel,” said PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman. “Our final rule would improve safety and reduce risks of hazmat in transportation.”

To view the final rule, go to; the docket numbers are FMCSA–2010-0096 and PHMSA-2010-0227.

Stevens Radio Goes Global

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StevensRadioStevens Transports is the only transportation carrier with its own 24/7 full-time radio station. By popular demand Stevens Radio is now on the Worldwide Web as a full-time Internaet Radio Station. You can listen by going to Stevens Transport's brand new website at and click on the MEDIA tab. This takes you to the Stevens Radio page where you will find a media player. Click on the POP-UP icon in the top right corner of the player and you can listen to Stevens Radio while you browse our website. Stevens Radio is powered by Live365, the #1 Internet Radio Station network in the world.

There are also "FREE" STEVENS RADIO apps for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad available as welll as Android Phones and Tablets. You can now listen to Stevens Radio anytime on your smart phone with the Live365 App.

Get the free Mobile App now direct from your iPhone in the Apple App Store! You can then pre-set Steven Radio as your favorite station and listen anytime you like. Go to the Live365 link below and download FREE app to your smart phone. You can also download a Live365 player to place on your computer desktop for easy listening at anytime.

Nominee for Chief Counsel for Advocacy Confirmed by Senate

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Washington, D.C. - Dr. Winslow Sargeant was confirmed as Chief Counsel for Advocacy by the U.S. Senate today. Dr. Sargeant is the sixth presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed Chief Counsel for the Office of Advocacy.

Dr. Sargeant has been serving as Chief Counsel since August of 2010 under a recess appointment. Under his leadership Advocacy has held more than 40 small business roundtables to hear from small businesses on their issues and concerns. Dr. Sargeant has traveled to all ten federal regions, with visits to 23 states to meet with entrepreneurs and small business owners. In addition, the Office of Advocacy has filed 56 public comment letters with federal agencies trying to mitigate the impact of their proposed regulations on small business.

"It is inspiring to witness this country's entrepreneurial spirit and it is an honor to represent small businesses every day," said Dr. Sargeant. "I would like to thank President Obama, the Senate, and the small business organizations and entrepreneurs who have supported my nomination."

Prior to serving as Chief Counsel, Dr. Sargeant was managing director of Venture Investors, LLC, in Madison, Wisconsin. The firm provided seed and early-stage money to high-potential health care and IT companies. Dr. Sargeant received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Sargeant and partners co-founded Aanetcom, a "fabless" semiconductor integrated circuit design company. The company designed state-of the-art computer circuits for telecom and broadband applications. In March 2000, Aanetcom was acquired by PMC-Sierra, a publicly traded company.

"My background gives me the unique perspective to understand the challenges that our entrepreneurs face day in and day out. As Chief Counsel I am dedicated to working on their behalf and fighting for their interests in Washington," said Sargeant.

The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent voice for small business within the federal government. The presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed Chief Counsel for Advocacy advances the views, concerns, and interests of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts, and state policymakers. Regional advocates and an office in Washington, D.C., support the Chief Counsel's efforts. For more information, visit, or call (202) 205-6533.

See full press release:

CVTA Representatives Have Participated in Conferences

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Robert McLanahan, NAPFTDS, Mike O'Connell, CVTA, John Rojas, Delmar
Robert McClanahan, NAPFTDS, Mike O'Connell, CVTA, John Rojas, Delmar

CVTA representatives have recently participated in a number of regional conferences sponsored by the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools. Mike O’Connell participated in the conference held in Chattanooga, TN and presented information on the pending ELDT rulemaking, the petition for reconsideration on third party testing, WIA funding and the Drive the Guard Program. The event was organized and sponsored by Homer Paul of USXpress.

Former Chairman Lou Spoonhour represented CVTA at a regional conference in Green Bay, WI. He said that the conference proved to be a lively discussion on a number of topics related to entry-level driver training. CVTA Board member Gary Strube and Mike O’Connell presented at s conference in Corpus Christi, TX. Gary’s presentation on the CVTA Instructor Certification Program was well received, and Mike discussed pending rulemakings, the impact of further budget cuts in WIA funding and the Drive the Guard Program. CVTA members John Rojas and Homer Paul also participated in the Corpus Christi meeting.

John Rojas, Delmar and Homer Paul, US Xpress
John Rojas, Delmar and Homer Paul, US Xpress

Participation in these regional conferences is important because it increases interaction between CVTA schools and the operators of community college training programs. Earlier this year, CVTA and NAPFTDS filed a joint Petition for Reconsideration of the FMCSA rule banning third party testing by schools. ATA, TCA and PTDI also joined the two groups in filing the Petition.

Veterans, Werner Benefit from Program

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By Erin Golden

Talk to people in just about any department at Werner Enterprises, and there's a good chance you'll find a military veteran.

The Sarpy County-based trucking giant has 32 employees who are currently deployed. Plenty of other employees are veterans recently returned from serving in the Middle East. And the company is always looking to hire more.

It's one of only a handful of trucking firms that runs an apprenticeship program that allows participants to get GI Bill funding on the way to a driving certificate — and potential long-term employment with the company. Werner executives say the Operation: Freedom program serves two equally important purposes: It helps get veterans into the workforce and provides a pool of skilled new employees for a company always looking for good help.

"We've got 7,300 trucks going down the road, so there's always an interest in finding enough qualified drivers," said John Frey, Werner's vice president for driver school relations. "And the military provides a very good basis."

It's the kind of effort leaders in Washington, D.C., are hoping will become common at more workplaces.

In his Veterans Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama made note of efforts he's backing to get more veterans to work. He's directed federal agencies to hire more veterans, and they've hired more than 120,000. He's called for businesses to hire 100,000 veterans who have served in the years since Sept. 11, 2001, along with their spouses, over the next few years.

In addition, the administration supports a Returning Heroes Tax Credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans, and a separate tax credit that would boost help for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities. The measure cleared the U.S. Senate this week.

Unemployment levels among veterans — particularly those who have served in recent conflicts — are higher than those for the civilian population. In October, when the overall unemployment rate was 9 percent, the rate for veterans ages 18 to 24 was 30 percent and the rate for non-veterans in that age group was 15 percent.

The Werner program got its start in 2006, after the company began talking to the U.S. Department of Labor... Continue reading...


Motor Carriers Improving Safety

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DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of November 14, 2011
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released figures that show that the number of fatal crashes decreased by almost a third between 2007 and 2009.

Fatality ChartThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released a remarkable spread of data showing a dramatic increase in safety for CMV operators that has occurred over the last decade.

A Decade of Improvements

Between 2007 and 2009, the number of crashes that involved a CMV and resulted in a fatality declined from 5,099 to 3,619; an incredible improvement over just a couple of years. In addition, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes decrease from 1.32 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled to 1.12. That is a decline of more than 25%.

From 2000 to 2009 there was a significant improvement in safety. The fatal crash rate for large trucks has fallen 54.5%. Simply put, there are less than half the fatal crashes today than there were a decade ago.

What Has Caused This?

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what has caused this increase in safety and it is more than likely that, if you ask two different people in the industry you will get two different answers.

Certainly, there has been a substantial improvement in the quality and safety of trucks in the last decade. A fair amount of praise for the decrease in fatalities may belong with the truck manufacturers.

In addition, the focus towards a ‘safety culture’ among motor carriers has been prodigious. More and more carriers are simply not accepting drivers cutting corners or disobeying regulations. For a variety of reasons including CSA, the threat of lawsuits and, by no means last, the overall professionalism of motor carriers of all sizes, there has been a drive towards safety and compliance.

FMCSA would probably also point to new regulations that have been put in place over the last decade. There have been substantial rewrites of a number of major regulations including drug and alcohol testing and hours of service. The agency was founded in 2000 with the expressed intent to increase safety for motor carriers through regulation and enforcement.

Areas for Improvement

The picture wasn’t all rosy however; certain areas of the industry have some catching up to do. In the same time period, the rate of passenger carriers involved in fatal crashes only fell by 25%. Anyone who has been paying attention to the huge campaign against problematic bus companies that FMCSA has been running this year will probably not be surprised by this.

2010 and 2011

The 2010 figures will be published in March of 2012 and the 2011 figures in March of 2013. Fast-Fax will keep you up-to-date with this information when it becomes available.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 111, No. 714 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011