State Laws Newsletter Mastheadfinal

State Law Newsletter: IRP Amendments Proposed

Written and edited by Robert C. Pitcher, American Trucking Associations

IRP Amendments Proposed – This year’s crop of proposals to amend the International Registration Plan are out, and there are three of them, one good, one bad, one indifferent.  All – unless one or more is withdrawn by its sponsors beforehand – will be discussed at IRP’s annual meeting the third week in May.  Proposed Ballot 2017.01 has to do with uncollectable accounts, that is, amounts in registration fees that a state has transmitted through the IRP clearinghouse to the other IRP member jurisdictions and then has been unable to collect from the registrant that’s supposed to pay them.  We can’t see that the industry has an opinion on this one.  Ballot 2017.02 would require all the states and provinces to accept IRP cab cards in electronic format, either as issued by a registrant’s base state or when presented by a registrant.  Clearly, this is a move industry can applaud.  The only problem is that the effective date of the amendment, presumably through an overabundance of caution, has been put at January 2020.  Since some carriers are already displaying their cab cards electronically, without problem, as far as we’ve ever heard, let’s move that date up by a year!

Ballot 2017.03 would impose a new kind of penalty in IRP.  On occasion, a state auditing an IRP registrant’s account will find evidence – a fuel receipt, perhaps – that the registrant actually operated in a jurisdiction which was not reported on the registrant’s application.  This may happen when the registrant’s records, taken as a whole, are in such a sorry state that they can’t be audited.  Under IRP’s new audit rules, in such a case the auditor is to impose an assessment of 20 percent, in the nature of a penalty, of the fees the registrant paid on its application for the year under review.  The registrant is penalized for its negligence in not keeping records, and the auditor can go on to other things.  The 20 percent is arbitrary, but presumed to be enough to get the registrant’s attention.  It is shared out pro rata among the states on the application.  But, say the sponsors of this Ballot #3, how about a state where the registrant actually went, but which it didn’t report?  They get nothing in this scheme.  Let’s give them $50 each — which is what the ballot proposes.  What’s wrong with that?  First, the amount looks just like a minimum fee, which IRP specifically forbids – and for good reason.  Second, the 20 percent is a penalty on the registrant; it’s not designed to make any jurisdiction whole.  After all, the carrier’s records have already been declared so bad that no one knows where it went, or what fees it should have paid to any state, those it reported, and those it may not have.  Third, the current rule is supposed to keep auditors from wasting time on a set of records that are inadequate.  The proposal would instead encourage them to look through what little they have to find $50 discrepancies.  Finally, there are some problems with the language of the proposal.  We think it’s just a bad idea.