Arkansas Trucking Association’s top priority for this legislative session was to change the state’s antiquated International Registration Plan procedures, allowing carriers to register their fleets in one state instead of in each state in which they operate.
Rep. Andy Davis, R-Little Rock, sponsored House bill 1691 to upgrade the process for fleet registration in the state, and the bill was approved March 20.
“No later than Jan. 1 of next year you will be able to execute all your IRP transactions online from your office,” said Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association.
Newton received a round of applause when she said this to trucking executives and ATA members at the organization’s annual conference last week in Rogers.
“I’ve often said that unfortunately no one registers their trucks in Arkansas except for those people who don’t have the option to do it anywhere else,” she said. “Hopefully our efforts on this issue will alleviate that headache for you and make that process more efficient and your employees more effective as they execute those tasks.”
The existing system has been deterring carriers from registering their vehicles in the state, according to the bill.
“In short — the technology is what needed improvement,” Newton said. “The software system, its capabilities, were just limited in the types of transactions, initiating new accounts.”
The organization worked to improve the system for the past two years. The work included researching what other states where offering, especially in regard to convenience and customer service.
“That’s what’s driving companies’ decision to license in a particular state,” she said. “Cost is important, but companies will pay a premium for convenience and efficiency.”
The new system in Arkansas will not only put the state “on par with the offerings of the other states of choice for registration” but also cost less. According to the bill, accessing the portal to register one or more commercial vehicle is $2. Issuing or renewing the registration of a commercial vehicle is $2. And the fee for each registered commercial vehicle is $5.
The bill was approved with an emergency clause because of the lack of clarity in the existing law and because the development and implementation of the new system were expected to take more than six months. The Department of Finance & Administration expects the system should be running about eight weeks before Jan. 1 “to test any glitches,” Newton said.
ATA LEGISLATION GOALS
Arkansas Trucking Association also looked to put a cap on permanent and total disability worker’s compensation requirements and increase highway funding.
In 2016, legislation that eliminated the death and total disability fund, effective July 1, 2019, shifts “a significant amount of exposure for those types of claims onto employers, and there was no relief or other savings in this area during that session,” Newton said.
No bills were successful in the most recent session regarding the funding or the cap, she said. Other priorities for the organization this legislative session included tort reform and platooning, and measures for both were approved.