GCLA Lobbying Update

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Legislative Report, November 13, 2017

Below are the two most important documents and details referring to the new modified limo inspections and retrofit regulations.

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The CHP is now scheduling and implementing Terminal Inspections focusing on Modified Limousine. These inspections started on July 1, 2017.  

The primary purpose of these inspections is to review the safety aspects of any vehicle that has been stretched or “modified” to increase passenger capacity to not more than 10 passengers. Most of us who own 6 or 8 passenger limousines or any sedan that has been cut and stretched, even six inches, will now have a CHP inspection once every 13 months and we will pay an additional inspection fee to the PUC to cover the costs on these inspections.  

For companies who have never operated commercial vehicles, this will be a new experience with a CHP inspection and there will be a learning curve to understand what the CHP will review during a Terminal Inspection.  

Since this process is new, there exists a high level of confusion, fear, and uncertainty for the operators, as well as the CHP, regarding the new rules and regulations. There is also disagreement on the new rules and the GCLA is working with the CHP to modify some of these new rules. This process will get worked out over time but, currently, different CHP inspectors are defining the inspection rules differently.  

Here are some of the new controversial regulations which were published only 30 days ago that the CHP is implementing:

Drivers of modified limousines are now required to complete Hours of Service driver logs using either paper log books or electronic logs apps. The CHP is stating that driving regulations which apply to Commercial Class B drivers now apply to drivers of modified limousines. The CHP is defining a “modified Limousines” as any vehicles that has been cut and extended. They are stating that sedans which are cut and extended, even 6 inches, are “modified limousines” and are required to comply with the new safety standards and inspections.  

The GCLA strongly opposes these two rule interpretations and we are taking steps to see if we can change these regulations. In the meantime, the CHP is enforcing these new regulations  

To summarize, the CHP is beginning Terminal Inspections on operators who own standard stretch limousines. Operators and CHP inspectors are confused about the new regulations and how to implement them. The GCLA is continuing our efforts to influence this new process.

On October 24, 2017, GCLA President Dave Kinney and Lobbyist Gregg Cook met with Nick Zanjani, Director of the CPUC’s Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division, to discuss transportation industry-related issues and priorities for 2018.  

Legislative Report, October 24, 2017

The GCLA encouraged the CPUC to move forward on three specific issues: 

Increase enforcement staff – The GCLA pressed Mr. Zanjani to seek further authority to fund additional positions focused on enforcement actions for existing and illegal operators including initiating string operations, impounding vehicles, and arresting illegal operators. The PUCTRA Account paid in by operators and TNC companies now exceeds $20 million. The GCLA is asking that these funds be used to hire additional enforcement and administrative CPUC staff.  

Complete the online administrative portal – We asked that the CPUC continue to focus on the completion of the online web portal to allow operators to complete administrative tasks online. The portal would allow operators to add or delete vehicles, submit renewal documentation, and perform other administrative tasks online. The PUC stated that the eFast platform will be completed shortly and the Transportation Carrier Portal will begin development in the near future. The completion of this system redesign will take at least 18 months but the finished product will significantly increase the speed and ease of working with the CPUC.  

Improve administrative support and policy implementation – GCLA reviewed some the current servicing challenges the industry is experiencing when interacting with the CPUC. Specifically, we asked for clarification on the changes to the PUCTRA quarterly reporting form regarding farm out revenue and Fee Paid Statements. We asked for simplified procedures when operators changed business entities (LLCs changing to S or C corps). And, we asked for a continued focus on implementation for the recommendations in the Crowe Horwath TEB assessment report.  The GCLA is thankful that we are partnering with the CPUC to implement meaningful and positive changes to our industry. We will continue to press for the implementation of these and other important issues. In addition, we will solicit support from the legislature, the CHP, and the Governor’s office to support the CPUC’s efforts to help improve our industry.

Legislative Report, August 12, 2016

Gregg Cook
(916) 552-6789

The California Legislature will adjourn the 2015-16 legislative session on August 31; this week was the deadline for bills that contained a cost to the state general fund to pass their respective appropriations committees. Following is an update on the status of those bills.

Assembly Bill 828, Low. Would exempt TNC vehicles from commercial vehicle licensing fees until January 2018. The bill FAILED passage. Thank you to GCLA members for your great assistance in providing important information to convene to the legislature regarding the significant subsidy that California’s taxpayers were providing to the TNC companies and the unlawful act of TNC companies urging their drivers who purchase or lease vehicles to perjure themselves. A major win for GCLA.

Assembly Bill 1289, Cooper. Requires TNC companies to conduct criminal background checks on their drivers. Passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and will be considered by the full State Senate in the next 2 weeks. A win for GCLA.

Assembly Bill 1574, Chiu. The bill requires the CPUC and the DMV to verify that every stage passenger or charter-party carrier be properly licensed and safety inspected. The bill passed the State Senate Appropriatins Committee and will be considered by the full Senate in the next 2 weeks.

Assembly Bill 2687, Achadjian. Limits the blood alcohol content level of 0.04 or less for drivers of vehicles containing passengers for hire. The bill passed the State Senate Appropriations Committee.

Assembly Bill 2763, Gatto. The bill defines a personal vehicle as one that is owned, leased or rented for use to provide TNC service. GCLA requested an amendment to clarify that the owned, leased or rented vehicle has been safety inspected, the author has rejected that amendment to date, we’ll continue to press for that amendment. The bill passed the State Senate Appropriations Committee and will be considered by the fuill Senate ion the next 2 weeks.

Senate Bill 247, Lara. The bill requires buses to be modified to include specific safety instructions to passengers and increased exit availability including “pop-out” windows and lighting. At GCLA’s request, the bill was amended to exclude buses with 39 passengers or less. The bill passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee and will be considered by the full State Assembly in the next 2 weeks, a win for GCLA.

Senate Bill 812, Hill. The bill focuses on CHP vehicle safety inspections. The bill will be amended next week to extend safety modification requirements for “stretched” limousines, extended to increase passenger capacity prior to 2015, to 2018. Original legislation required those modifications to be in effect by January 1, 2016. That requirement was extended to 2017 and will now be extended to 2018. The bill passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee, will amended to the 2018 date and be considered by the State Assembly in the next 2 weeks. A win for GCLA.

California Public Utilities Commission Enforcement Division.

Wednesday, August 10 Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced legislation, Assembly Bill 2903, to reorganize the California Public Utilities Commission. His legislation includes a proposal to relocate the administration, regulation and enforcement of transportation services, household goods carriers, buses and charter-party carriers (including TNCs) from the CPUC to the DMV and CHP. This legislation is in response to the Governor’s announced reorganization. GCLA requested a meeting with the Secretary of Transportation, Brian Kelly to express concerns about the legislation and a meeting was granted on short notice yesterday. David Kinney and Gregg Cook attended the meeting and shared with the Secretary and his staff the roles and responsibilities of the CPUC, DMV and CHP in today’s charter-party industry regulation and enforcement. The Secretary responded that the information we provided was “an eye-opener.” In addition, GCLA recommended that any final legislation include a specific role for GCLA in an advisory capacity to the Secretary, Secretary Kelly responded favorably to this suggestion. GCLA will provide information to members of the legislature over the next 2 weeks and will prepare for public participation hearings to be held during the next 5-6 months in anticipation of the legislature giving consideration to the proposal in 2017. GCLA President Kevin Illingworth has appointed a committee to develop appropriate information and materials.

Legislative Report, July 1, 2016

Gregg Cook
(916) 552-6789

The California Legislature recessed for summer vacation on June 30, they will return on August 1st. Following is a status report of current legislation.

We all remember vividly the horrific limousine accident that occurred on the San Mateo Bridge a number of years ago. The result of that accident and numerous legislative proposals was required modification of existing limousine vehicles to install a 5th door, “pop-out” windows and a roof escape hatch. Over time the law has been amended to include only those vehicles with a seating capacity up to 10 passengers including the driver. The California Highway Patrol is required to develop and implement regulations regarding these requirements by January 1, 2017. In recent discussions with CHP representatives, they are no where near the development of the regulations and the result is it being virtually impossible for any charter-party carrier to modify a vehicle to meet unknown regulations and locate the manufacturer or modifier capable of meeting unknown regulations. As a result, we are in discussions with the CHP and members of the legislature to extend the date of the CHP regulation development and implementation. We’ll provide more information after the legislature returns from summer break in August.

On June 27, Governor Brown announced plans to organize the responsibilities of the California Public Utilities Commission. “--Transfer the implementation and enforcement of the following CPUC transportation responsibilities to departments within the California State Transportation Agency (e.g., California Department of Motor Vehicles primarily for licensing, registration, evidence of insurance and select investigations and the California Highway Patrol primarily for enforcement and select investigations) >Passenger Stage Corporations >Charter-Party Carriers (including Transportation Network Companies) >Household Goods Carriers”

GCLA has been in conversations with the Governor’s office, the California Secretary of Transportation, the CPUC Enforcement Division and the State Legislature regarding the proposal. We are assured that there will be no implementing legislation considered this year. There will be a study to be undertaken by the “Little Hoover Commission” to recommend modification or approval of the Governor’s plan. This will be a public process and GCLA will be at the table. The proposal is unworkable. GCLA will be in a position to recommend changes or elimination of the proposal. GCLA has been at the forefront of encouraging the CPUC to effectively, efficiently and economically perform its responsibilities. GCLA supported legislation last year to assist the CPUC Enforcement Division in the execution of its responsibilities. That legislation needs to be implemented and evaluated before a major regulatory change of this magnitude is undertaken. GCLA is at the table.

Assembly Bill 650 – Low. This legislation is sponsored by taxicab interests throughout California. It would provide for the regulation of taxicab transportation services by the California Public Utilities Commission except for services originating in the City and County of San Francisco and San Francisco International Airport. The legislation would end locally regulated taxicab services. The bill passed the Senate Transportation Committee and will be considered in Senate Appropriations in August.

Assembly Bill 828 – Low. The bill would exclude TNC vehicles from the definition of “commercial vehicle” for the purpose of vehicle licensing until January 1, 2018 and require the Public Utilities Commission to conduct an investigation to consider whether existing rules related to transportation services serve the public interest. In December, 2014 the Department of Motor Vehicles arbitrarily and unlawfully suspended the requirement for TNC vehicles to be registered as commercial vehicles. This legislation will maker that act lawful for 18 months. GCLA has vigorously opposed the measure telling legislators that the DMV’s act has caused California’s taxpayers to subsidize TNCs million dollars or more over the past 18 months. The bill was heard in the Senate Energy Committee and passed on a 6-4 vote. It will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee in August, GCLA will again present the argument that taxpayers are subsidizing multi-billion dollar Uber and Lyft. The current unlawful practice encourages TNC drivers who purchase or lease a vehicle though the TNC to commit perjury by knowingly declaring that the vehicle will not be used for commercial purposes, the DMV has informed the California New Car Dealers Association that they will not enforce dealers or TNC vehicle owners or lessees from lying on their DMV Vehicle Registration. All GCLA members should contact their California legislative representatives to report this unlawful act that directly affects their taxpaying citizens and encourages violating California law.

Assembly Bill 1289 – Cooper. This legislation would require a transportation network company to conduct comprehensive criminal background checks for each participating driver and prohibit a TNC from retaining a driver who has been convicted of specific offenses. The bill further requires that a TNC that violates of fails to comply is subject to a penalty of $500 nor more than $50,000 for each offense. The bill has passed the Senate Energy and Public Safety Committees and will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee in August.

Assembly Bill 1360 – Ting. The legislation would exempt charter-party carriers, including transportation network companies that prearrange rides among multiple passengers who share the ride in whole or in part from the prohibition to charge individual fares. As introduced, the bill pertained only to the TNCs; GCLA vigorously opposed the measure and the bill was amended to include all charter-party carriers. The bill did not meet the legislative deadline to bills to be heard in policy committee and as a result is dead for 2016.

Assembly Bill 1574 – Chiu. The bill would require the California Public Utilities Commission to verify with the Department of Motor Vehicles on an annual basis that buses, limousines and modified limousines used by a passenger stage corporation or charter-party carrier have been reported to the CPUC by the carrier. The purpose of the bill is to ensure that all newly registered buses, limousines and modified limousines meet all statutory and regulatory requirements for safe operation. This bill is the direct result of a tour bus accident that occurred in San Francisco and upon investigation it was determined that the bus had been registered with the DMV but had not been registered with the CPUC and therefore had not been subject to safety inspections by the California Highway Patrol. The bill has passed both the Senate Energy and Transportation Committees and will be considered in the Senate Appropriations Committee in August.

Assembly Bill 1677 – Ting. The legislation would require the Department of Motor Vehicles, upon the request of local government in a jurisdiction where tour buses operate, to enter in to a memoranda of understanding that would allow the local agency to contact the CHP to request a safety check of any tour bus serving that community, require the CHP to conduct a safety inspection and require the local agency to pay for the CHP costs. The bill was sponsored by the City and County of San Francisco and is a direct result of the tour bus accident that occurred in San Francisco last year. The bill passed the Senate Transportation Committee and will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee in August.

Assembly Bill 2687 - Achadjian. The bill makes it unlawful for a person driving a motor vehicle with a passenger for hire in the vehicle, to have a blood alcohol level of 0.04. The bill is a direct result of a TNC driver incident. The bill passed the Senate Public Safety committee and will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee in August.

Assembly Bill 2763 – Gatto. The legislation would require that a personal vehicle that is used by a participating transportation network company driver to provide transportation services and is owned, leased, rented or otherwise authorized for use for any period of time meet, all inspection and other safety requirements imposed by the California Public Utilities Commission. The CPUC is currently investigating safety requirements for TNC vehicles. Passage of this bill will eliminate the need for further CPUC investigation. The bill passed the Senate Energy Committee and will be considered by the State Senate in August.

Senate Bill 247 – Lara. This legislation requires a charter-party carrier engaged in charter bus transportation to ensure each vehicle is equipped with specified safety features. Those features include interior and exterior luminescent or reflective emergency signage by July 1, 2019; requires a bus manufactured after July 1, 2020 to be equipped with a secondary door for emergency exit and windows that can be easily opened and remain open during an emergency; lighting fixtures that will turn on in the event of an impact or collision; requires the CHP to adopt standards for implementation of these requirements by July 1, 2017. Further, the bill requires that the driver of the vehicle instruct passengers of the safety equipment and emergency exits prior to beginning the trip. This bill is the direct result of an accident that resulted in the loss of lives of numerous Southern California students visiting college campuses in 2014. The major problem with the bill is that there is no definition of “charter bus” in California law. Therefore the provision of the bill could be assumed to include all vehicles currently defined as a bus: vehicles with a seating capacity of 10 or more passengers including the driver. The California Bus Association is neutral on the bill in its present form.. GCLA has notified the author of our opposition of bill in its present form due to the “bus” definition. The author has assured us that the bill will be amended to address our concerns and exempt from its provisions limousines, modified limousines, mini-vans and mini-buses. The bill has passed the Assembly Transportation Committee and will be considered in August in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Senate Bill 812 – Hill. Imposes performance-based requirements on the inspection of tour buses. It is important to note that there is no definition of “tour bus” in California law, therefore all vehicles with a seating capacity of 10 or more, including the driver be subject to the provisions of the bill. Specifically, the bill requires the California Public Utilities Commission, upon recommendation of the California Highway Patrol, to suspend the permit of certificate of a passenger stage corporation or charter-party carrier for receiving an unsatisfactory compliance rating in three (3) consecutive CHP terminal inspections. Prohibits the fees collected by the CHP to offset the costs of inspections from being used to augment other sources of funding; provides that a maintenance facility or terminal that receives two (2) consecutive satisfactory ratings be inspected once every 26 months instead of once every 13 months; requires that a tour bus that is older than 2 years that is newly acquired by an operator that has received an unsatisfactory safety rating be inspected prior to operation; requires that a tour bus be ordered out of service if the CHP determines that the bus has multiple violations and is determined to be of imminent danger to public safety until corrections have been made; allows the CHP to conduct surprise inspections and, requires the CHP to adopt terminal inspection program regulations by January 1, 2018. The bill has passed the Assembly Transportation Committee and will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee early August.

Legislative Report, July 1, 2016

Gregg Cook
(916) 552-6789

June 3rd was a major day in California’s legislative process, legislation introduced during the past year must have passed its “house of origin” on or before June 3. Following is a status report of legislation of significant importance to GCLA and its members:

Senate Bill 812 – Hill. The legislation is focused on the safety inspection of vehicles by the California Highway Patrol. The bill would require the CHP to modify its existing terminal inspections. Current law requires the CHP to inspect every maintenance facility or terminal at least every 13 months, this bill would require the CHP to extend the 13 month inspection requirement to 26 months if the terminal receives 2 or more successive satisfactory ratings. The bill would require that a newly acquired vehicle that is more than 2 years old to be safety inspected prior to operation, if the vehicle has multiple safety violations that would constitute an imminent danger to public safety the CHP shall immediately order the vehicle out of service until all violations have been corrected. Further, if a vehicle has received an unsatisfactory compliance rating for 3 consecutive inspections, the CPUC is to suspend the operating certificate of the charter-party carrier. GCLA is in negotiations with Senator Hill and his staff to clarify inspection fees and inspection fee payments to the CPUC.

Assembly Bill 828 – Low. California law requires that all vehicles utilized for commercial purposes be licensed as commercial vehicles and pay a fee associated with that classification. This bill would exclude, until January 1, 2018 any motor vehicle operated in connection with a transportation network company from the definition of a commercial vehicle. Further, the bill would require the CPUC to study existing statutes and regulations relating to transportation services and report conclusions to the California Legislature. GCLA opposes this legislation.

IMPORTANT NOTE; The California Department of Motor Vehicles is currently operating at $300,000,000 (3 hundred million) dollar deficit. The current state budget proposes a vehicle registration fee increase of $10.00 per vehicle registered in California to address the deficit. In December, 2014 the DMV unlawfully suspended the requirement for TNC vehicles to be registered as commercial vehicles which a study was undertaken to determine if TNC vehicles should be assessed the commercial vehicle fee. 18 months later that study as yet to be completed and the suspension of the fee has remained in effect. The result is that the tax-payers of California have been subsidizing the TNC industry. The shortfall in the DMV budget is made up from California’s general fund. It is estimated that the TNCs operate over 200,000 vehicles in California; it is further estimated that these vehicles should have been assessed an average of $25.00 per vehicle, a DMV revenue loss of $5,000,000 per year or $7.5 million since the unlawful suspension of the commercial fee requirement. GCLA has met with major legislative leaders and testified in public sessions regarding the unlawful act by the DMV and the general public subsidy of the TNC industry. GCLA members are encouraged to contact their local legislative representative to protest the unlawful act of the DMV and the inappropriate general public subsidy to transportation network companies.

Assembly Bill 1574 – Chiu and Ting. Accurate record keeping by the DMV and the CPUC regarding transportation service vehicles is non-existent. This legislation would require the DMV in issuing or renewing a commercial vehicle registration, to require the owner of a bus, limousine or modified limousine used by a charter-party carrier of passengers to disclose the name of the carrier or corporation that will be using the vehicle and to annually verify the information. GCLA supports this legislation.

Assembly Bill 1677 – Ting. This legislation would allow a city to join in a memorandum of understanding with the California Highway Patrol to question the status of vehicle safety inspections of tour buses operating within the city and if a vehicle has not successfully passed the CHP vehicle safety inspection to require the CHP to inspect the vehicle prior to its operation in the city. Vehicle inspection fees will be borne by the requesting city.

Assembly Bill 2687 – Achadjian. This legislation would make it unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a motor vehicle when a passenger for hire is a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense. GCLA is supporting this legislation.

Assembly Bill 2777 – Nazarian. Current law requires legislative approval prior to requesting a criminal background check undertaken by the California Department of Justice. This legislation would allow transportation network companies to request a DOJ “live-scan” criminal background check for their drivers. The CPUC is currently evaluating the background check requirements to TNC drivers; if the CPUC determines that the DOJ check is preferred, this legislation would enable TNCs to make the request to the DOJ for their drivers to comply with CPUC requirement or to request the DOJ background for their own requirements. GCLA is currently supporting the legislation.