The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is wrapping up a series of listening sessions regarding recent rule changes that place regulatory burdens on vehicles that travel within the state and have a 10,000- to 26,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating.
Previously, such regulation only applied to these vehicles if they traveled in interstate commerce. The new regulations, including the medical card and physical qualifications of drivers, logbook and hour of service requirements, will apply to farmers whenever they haul items that are not within the narrow definition of a farm product or supply.This will place many new requirements upon small businesses throughout the state that haul their products to distribution points and consumers.
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) has provided a memo to members through its POWER Communications e-newsletter that outlines many of the organization’s concerns.
For instance, these regulations will substantially increase costs for small business as they attempt to figure out which regulations they must comply with by the end of the year. Additionally, those who drive these lighter weight vehicles tend to present a smaller risk than the interstate carriers with which they will be lumped with by these regulations. Many risks are reduced by the fact that smaller carriers typically operate within a definite geographic boundary and often within a short distance from their work location.
The memo also states that data evidencing the necessity of such regulation for these lighter weight vehicles has not been presented to the public.
Due to the incorporated nature of the rules, these intrastate carriers are confused about which regulations apply, what the federal regulations mean applied to their business and the application to self-employed businessmen who also transport their goods or services without employed drivers.
OFBF feels that should the rules go forward with a compliance date of Jan. 1, 2012, substantial work must be done by PUCO to provide quality assistance to these newly regulated parties and prevent unfair enforcement.
OFBF is also monitoring a bill at the Statehouse that would put most of the new rules on hold.