FY 2015 Appropriations Update

FY 2015 Appropriations Update

Yesterday, the House and Senate released the negotiated 2015 spending bill package. The measure funds transportation and most other government spending through the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2015). However, the Department of Homeland Security is funded for a shorter amount of time, through February of 2015. Funding for FY 2015 is essentially frozen at FY 2014 levels. The bill also contains a number of policy changes, including the provision suspending enforcement of a portion of the hours of service regulations while a study is conducted. A full summary of the relevant provisions can be found below. The House and Senate are both expected to pass the bill this week.

Funding Levels

Total FY 2015 Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) – $313,000,000

  • Basic MCSAP – $218,000,000
    • New Entrant Safety Audits – $32,000,000
    • High Priority Grants – $15,000,000
  • Border Enforcement Grants – $32,000,000
  • Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks Deployment (CVISN) – $25,000,000
  • Performance and Registration Information System Management program (PRISM) – $5,000,000
  • Safety Data Improvement Grants – $3,000,000
  • Commercial Driver’s License Improvements Program (CDL) – $30,000,000

Policy Revisions

Aside from the funding levels, the bill contains several major provisions of interest.

  • Perhaps most significant is language in the bill temporarily suspending enforcement of the 34-hour restart provision of the current hours of service (HOS) regulations that requires two consecutive rest periods between 1am and 5am and limits the use of the restart to once per week. Enforcement is suspended until the end of the fiscal year, or until DOT completes and submits a final report on the impacts of the restart provisions, whichever comes later.
  • Congress directs FMCSA to publish its proposed Safety Fitness Determination rule by June 1, 2015.
  • The bill instructs the Secretary to complete a report on the agency’s ability to complete compliance reviews on mandatory carriers. The report is due March 27, 2015.
  • DOT is instructed to work with stakeholders to develop guidance for enforcing regulations against entities “providing transportation for no more than 15 passengers by passenger van as an incidental business activity for which it does not receive direct compensation.”
  • The bill provides a grandfather clause, allowing states to issue commercial learners permits to individuals under the age of 18 if State law allowed for such activity as of May 9, 2011.
  • The bill requires that carriers at risk of losing their Hazardous Materials Special Permit be allowed to present corrective actions taken to FMCSA for consideration prior to the agency denying a request for renewal.
  • The bill also contains three new weight exemptions:
    • In Wisconsin, vehicles currently operating on State Route 41 will be grandfathered in and allowed to operate at higher weights when the road becomes a part of the federal interstate system.
    • In Mississippi, vehicles currently operating on State Route 78, between mile marker 0 and mile marker 113, will be grandfathered in and allowed to operate at higher weights when the road becomes a part of the federal interstate system.
    • In Kentucky, a similar grandfather clause for multiple roadways in the State, allowing vehicle currently operating at higher weights to continue to do so after certain portions are named part of the Interstate System.