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Greg Cohen to Open Specialized Transportation Symposium

Gregory M. Cohen, President, American Highway Users Alliance, has been tapped to will open SC&RA’s 2013 Specialized Transportation Symposium, February 27-March 1, at the Hilton at Lake Buena Vista, Orlando, Fla. During this session, he will discuss the complex regulatory and financial realities affecting today’s transportation needs and capabilities. Additionally, he will address the top priorities of the current administration and Congress,
how Congressional actions could impact state transportation agencies and have a direct and indirect impact on permitted cargo.

SC&RA Expects Another Sell-Out of Annual Conference Products Fair Exhibits

By the time exhibit space for the Products Fair for the SC&RA 2013 Annual Conference opened to the public on December 17, 53 of the 90 booths already had been secured by past exhibitors. Because of the Products Fair’s popularity with hundreds of industry executives who make major purchasing decisions, SC&RA expects all booth space to be reserved well before the event during the Annual Conference, April 2-6, at the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, Ariz. Click here for the latest floor plan, further information and exhibitor registration forms.

Next Webinar to Examine SC&RA’s Latest Financial Benchmarking Study

SC&RA’s webinar on January 22 at noon EST will feature findings from the Association’s 2012 Financial Benchmarking Study for the Specialized Transport; Crane and Rigging; and Crane Rental Industries. The study is based on a survey of individual company data establishing industry benchmarks in the areas of expenditures, personnel and equipment. This webinar will review survey results to help companies strategize and plan for improving productivity, growth and profitability.

Big Drop in Cost of Diesel Drives Construction Materials Price Declines

Construction materials costs dropped in November, aided by a plunge in diesel prices along with smaller decreases in a variety of other inputs, according to an analysis of new federal figures released on December 13 by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). “The recent price decreases are very welcome after years of price spikes that contractors could not pass on in a weak construction market,” said AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. “These price declines may be yet another sign that the threat of the fiscal cliff has already taken a toll on demand.”

IRS Explains Federal Excise Tax Treatment of Foreign Truck

A Chief Counsel memorandum recently published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) examined an incident concerning the federal excise tax treatment of a foreign truck imported to the United States, where it was leased for six months exclusively for movements in this country. The truck’s re-exportation from the U.S. was secured by a customs bond. For tax purposes, the truck has been imported and, consequently, is subject to the 12 percent Federal Excise Tax (FET), according to the memorandum. 

GE Marks 20,000th Wind Turbine Installation

GE recently celebrated its 20,000th wind turbine installation in conjunction with its 10-year anniversary in the wind industry. The company noted that, altogether; its 20,000-turbine fleet has the capacity to power the cities of Hong Kong and London for an entire year.

“We couldn’t have achieved this milestone without our development partners,” said Vic Abate, Vice President of Renewable Energy for GE. “Together, we have advanced wind to its current status as a relevant, reliable, competitive source of energy.”

OSHA Schedules Stakeholder Meetings Concerning Vehicle Backovers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has scheduled five informal stakeholder meetings to solicit comments on preventing injuries and fatalities from vehicle backovers. OSHA will hold the first round of meetings at 9 a.m. on January 8, and at 9 a.m. on January 9, at the U.S. Department of Labor, Room C-5515, rooms 1A&B, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210. The second round of meetings will convene at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Health Care Costs Projected to Increase Slightly More Slowly

Projected cost increases for all types of medical plans are anticipated to be down slightly in 2013, according to a survey released on December 17 by Buck Consultants. This year was the first time since 2001 that Buck’s survey indicated projected cost increases less than 10 percent for any plan type, a trend that will continue into 2013. Buck reported that the cost of Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plans in 2013 will rise 9.7% over 2012 levels. PPO’s increased 9.9% in 2012, over 2011 rates.  High deductible plans are expected to increase 9.6% in 2013 over 2012.

FMCSA Surveys Would Document Use of EOBRs to Harass Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) plans to conduct surveys to determine the extent to which Electric On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) used to document drivers’ hours of service could also be used by motor carriers or enforcement personnel to harass drivers and/or monitor driver productivity. FMCSA also plans to collect information on the extent to which respondents believe that the use of EOBRs may result in coercion of drivers by motor carriers, shippers, receivers and transportation intermediaries.

Background Checks Will Require Use of New Form in 2013

“Given that segments of our industry rely on the use of consumer reporting agencies to perform background checks and prepare consumer reports, transportation employers will want to ensure that they are using a new version of the Summary of Your Rights Under the FCRA form (Summary of Rights) in order to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA),” according to a Transportation Law Alert released on December 7 by Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary.