Yellow Transp., Inc. v. Michigan, 537 U.S. 36 (2002)

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certiorari to the supreme court of michigan

No. 01-270. Argued October 7, 2002—Decided November 5, 2002

Prior to 1994, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) allowed States to charge interstate motor carriers operating within their borders annual registration fees of up to $10 per vehicle. As proof of registration, participating States issued stamps that were affixed to a card carried in each vehicle. Under this so-called "bingo card" system, some States entered into "reciprocity agreements" whereby, in exchange for reciprocal treatment, they discounted or waived registration fees for carriers from other States. In the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), Congress directed the ICC to replace the "bingo card" regime with a new system, the "Single State Registration System," under which a carrier's annual registration with one State that had participated in the "bingo card" system would be deemed to satisfy the registration requirements of all other such States. ISTEA also capped state registration fees by directing the ICC to "establish a fee system . . . that . . . will result in a fee for each participating State that is equal to the fee, not to exceed $10 per vehicle, that such State collected or charged as of November 15, 1991." 49 U. S. C. 11506(c)(2)(B)(iv)(III) (1994 ed.), amended and recodified in 14504(c)(2)(B)(iv)(III). In its final implementing regulations, the ICC ruled that, under the new system, States could not terminate the reciprocity agreements that were in place under the "bingo card" regime. To allow them to do so, the ICC decided, would be inconsistent with ISTEA's fee-cap provision and with the Act's intent that the flow of revenue for the States be maintained while the burden of the registration system for carriers be reduced.

Michigan participated in the "bingo card" regime. For the 1990 and 1991 registration years, the Michigan Public Service Commission did not levy a fee for petitioner's trucks that were licensed in Illinois pursuant to its policy not to charge a fee for vehicles registered in other States that did not charge Michigan-based carriers a fee. In 1991, however, the commission announced a change in its policy, effective February 1, 1992, whereby the commission granted reciprocity treatment based on the policies of the State in which a carrier maintained its principal place of business rather than the State in which individual vehicles were licensed. Because Michigan had no reciprocal arrangement with Kansas,

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