[Federal Register: March 2, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 40)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Regulatory Guidance Concerning the Applicability of Fees for the
Unified Carrier Registration Plan and Agreement
AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice of regulatory guidance.
SUMMARY: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
announces regulatory guidance concerning the applicability of fees in
49 CFR 367.20 to registration under the Unified Carrier Registration
(UCR) Plan and Agreement beginning after December 31, 2009. Until an
adjustment in the fees is published by FMCSA, States participating in
the UCR Plan and Agreement may assess and collect fees under the
current FMCSA regulation. In accordance with a statutory amendment that
applies to the current regulation, fees must be based on the number of
self-propelled commercial motor vehicles owned and operated.
DATES: Effective Date: This regulatory guidance is effective on March
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Frederic L. Wood, Regulatory Affairs
Division, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., Washington, DC 20590. E-
mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone: (202) 366-0834.
The Secretary of Transportation has the responsibility for setting
the initial fees, as well as any adjustments in those fees, to be paid
by motor carrier entities required to register with the UCR Plan and
Agreement (49 U.S.C. 14504a(d)(7)(B)). The Secretary is also authorized
by section 4308 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient
Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, Pub L. 109-59, 119 Stat.
1144, 1774 (Aug. 10, 2005) (SAFETEA-LU) (set out as a note to 49 U.S.C.
13902), to ``issue such regulations as the Secretary determines are
necessary to carry out [the Unified Carrier Registration Act of 2005,
title IV, subtitle C, of SAFETEA-LU].'' The FMCSA Administrator has
been delegated authority by 49 CFR 1.73(a)(5) and (7) to carry out the
functions and exercise the authority vested in the Secretary of
Transportation by 49 U.S.C. chapters 139 and 145.
This document provides regulatory guidance concerning the
applicability of 49 CFR 367.20, Fees under the Unified Carrier
Registration Plan and Agreement for each registration year, for
registration years beginning after December 31, 2009. FMCSA added this
section to part 367 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in a
final rule in 2007 in order to set the initial fees for the Unified
Carrier Registration Plan (UCR Plan). 72 FR 48590 (Aug. 24, 2007).
The UCR Plan is generally governed by the provisions of 49 U.S.C.
14504a, as added by section 4305 of SAFETEA-LU, 119 Stat. 1764-1773.
The UCR Plan is the organization responsible for implementing and
administering the Unified Carrier Registration Agreement (UCR
Agreement), an interstate agreement governing the collection and
distribution of registration information and fees collected pursuant to
the statute. 49 U.S.C. 14504a(a)(8) and (9). Section 14504a(f)(1)(A)(i)
requires that motor carriers, motor private carriers, and freight
forwarders operating motor vehicles be charged registration fees that
are "based on the number of commercial motor vehicles owned or
operated by the motor carrier, motor private carrier, or freight
forwarder * * *." At the time of the issuance of the 2007 final rule,
section 14504a(a)(1)(A) provided that, in general, a commercial motor
vehicle "has the meaning such term has under [49 U.S.C.] 31101." In
that section, a commercial motor vehicle is defined as "a self-
propelled or towed vehicle used on the highways in commerce principally
to transport passengers or cargo * * *." Taken together, these
provisions required entities subject to registration and payment of
fees to the UCR Plan to determine both the number of self-propelled
vehicles (i.e., powered units, such as tractors and straight trucks)
and the number of towed vehicles (i.e., trailers) in their fleets in
order to assess the applicable fee to be paid under 49 CFR 367.20.
In Sec. 367.20, FMCSA published a table that established the fee
schedule for motor carrier entities that are subject to registration
and payment of fees under the UCR Plan. The headings of both Sec.
367.20 and the table it contains read "Fees under the Unified Carrier
Registration Plan and Agreement for each registration year."
Accordingly, the fee schedule is not limited to a specific year, but
can be used in any registration year. The fee schedule is based on
brackets established by the "number of commercial motor vehicles owned
or operated by an exempt or non-exempt motor carrier, motor private
carrier, or freight forwarder." This is essentially identical to the
statutory phrase in section 14504a(f)(1)(A)(i). Section 367.20 does not
contain a separate definition of the term "commercial motor
vehicles." Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the term's
meaning is controlled by the statutory definition found in section
14504a(f)(1)(A)(i). The provisions of Sec. 367.20 have been applied by
the States participating in the UCR Plan and Agreement on that basis to
assess and collect fees for three registration years: 2007, 2008 and
2009. See 73 FR 10157-58 (Feb. 26, 2008).
In 2008, in section 701(d)(1)(B) of the Rail Safety Improvement Act
of 2008, Public Law 110-432, div. A, title IV, 122 Stat. 4848, 4906
(Oct. 16, 2008), Congress amended section 14504a(a)(1)(A) so that it
[T]he term "commercial motor vehicle"--
(i) for calendar years 2008 and 2009, has the meaning given the
term in section 31101 [of title 49, U.S.C.].; and
(ii) for years beginning after December 31, 2009, means a self-
propelled vehicle described in section 31101.
This amendment means that for UCR registration years beginning with
2010, the number of "commercial motor vehicles" used to determine the
size of a motor carrier's fleet will be based only on the number of
self-propelled (or powered) vehicles and will not include towed
Because the meaning of the term "commercial motor vehicles" in
is controlled by the meaning of that term in section 14504a(a)(1)(A),
the change in meaning made by the statutory amendment also applies to
the term used in Sec. 367.20. This is a necessary result of this basic
principle: "First, always, is the question whether Congress has
directly spoken to the precise question at issue. If the intent of
Congress is clear, that is the end of the matter; for the court, as
well as the agency, must give effect to the unambiguously expressed
intent of Congress." Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources
Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 842-43 (1984). Congress has
clearly expressed its intent to change the meaning of the term
"commercial motor vehicles" as used in section 14504a for years
beginning after December 31, 2009. The relevant FMCSA regulation
implementing the statutory provisions must be interpreted accordingly.
Purpose and Effect of This Interpretation
FMCSA has received a recommendation by the UCR Plan regarding an
adjustment in fees for 2010 in accordance with 49 U.S.C.
14504a(d)(7)(A). Although FMCSA published a notice of proposed
rulemaking regarding a recommended adjustment in the fees on September
3, 2009 (74 FR 45583), a final rule has not yet been issued due to
unexpected delays. States may, of course, await the publication of the
final rule before assessing and collecting UCR Plan fees for 2010.
However, the interpretation of Sec. 367.20 set forth in this
regulatory guidance--namely, the fact that the fee schedule in Sec.
367.20 is not limited, but can be used in any registration year--allows
the States participating in the UCR Plan to consider the option of
assessing and collecting fees for registration year 2010 by applying
that existing fee structure. In doing so, States would have to base
fees on the number of self-propelled vehicles (not including towed
vehicles) that are owned or operated by exempt or non-exempt motor
carriers, motor private carriers, or freight forwarders.
This option allows those States to continue meeting their
commitment, in accordance with section 14504a(e)(1)(B), "that an
amount at least equal to the revenue derived by the State from the
unified carrier registration agreement shall be used for motor carrier
safety programs, enforcement, or the administration of the UCR plan and
UCR agreement." In addition, the participating States will also have
funds available to meet their share of the costs of participating in
the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program's grants, as permitted by
49 U.S.C. 31103(a), as amended by section 4307 of SAFETEA-LU, 119 Stat.
1774. To be sure, because the fees set in Sec. 367.20 were based on
the previous definition of commercial motor vehicles that included
trailers, many motor carriers would pay fees based on a smaller number
of commercial motor vehicles, thus producing less revenues for the
participating States. Nonetheless, registration and payment of fees for
2010 under Sec. 367.20 would allow participating States an opportunity
to receive at least a partial flow of revenues in order to meet the
The final rule establishing the adjusted fees beginning with
registration year 2010 is presently under consideration by the Agency
and the Department and will most likely be reviewed by the Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and
Budget. Once a final determination is made concerning a final rule,
participating States that decided to assess and collect fees under the
current fee schedule may then assess and collect the balance due from
any motor carrier entities that registered and paid the fees
established in the current fee schedule.
Part 367--Standards for Registration With States
Section 367.20 Fees Under the Unified Carrier Registration Plan and
Agreement for Each Registration Year.
Question: Do the fees set by this section apply to registration
years beginning after December 31, 2009?
Guidance: Yes. The States participating in the Unified Carrier
Registration Plan and Agreement may assess and collect fees pursuant to
the fee schedule set forth in 49 CFR 367.20. The statutory amendment of
the applicable definition of commercial motor vehicles in 49 U.S.C.
14504a that applies beginning after December 31, 2009, also governs the
application of the fees established by this section.
Issued on: February 22, 2010.
Rose A. McMurray,
Associate Administrator and Chief Safety Officer.
[FR Doc. 2010-4294 Filed 3-1-10; 8:45 am]
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