Pennsylvania nears rule targeting rogue household goods movers

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, November 27, 2017

An effort continues to move forward at the Pennsylvania statehouse to boost penalties for rogue household goods movers operating in the state.

State law now requires household goods movers to register and obtain a permit with the Public Utility Commission, maintain workers compensation coverage, pay wages subject to taxation, and have adequate insurance coverage for goods moved.

Violators face a maximum $1,000 fine.

The House Consumer Affairs Committee recently voted to advance a bill that applies criminal penalties to household goods movers who fail to adhere to existing state rules.

Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill/Berks, said his bill addresses what is now an uneven playing field for movers.

“In Pennsylvania, it is more advantageous to operate a household goods moving company illegally than it is to comply with the law,” Argall previously stated. “These illegal companies often lack the necessary insurance coverage to protect damaged goods during a move, leaving the consumer on the hook.”

SB458 calls for offenders to face $5,000 fines, a third degree misdemeanor, suspension of registration and/or confiscation and impoundment of the motor vehicle used in the illegal move. Subsequent offenses could result in $10,000 fines.

Fine revenue would be used to help Public Utility Commission motor carrier enforcement efforts.

The bill awaits consideration on the House floor. If approved there, it would move to the governor’s desk. Senate lawmakers already approved the bill by unanimous consent.

Overweight loads
The House has voted 189-8 to approve another bill that covers fees for certain overweight loads. Specifically, an annual hauling permit fee of $900 would be assessed for overweight vehicles less than 100,000 pounds with a hauling distance greater than 50 miles.

The bill, HB1444, has moved to the Senate.

State law now authorizes a permit fee of $750 for affected loads traveling more than 1 mile.

The transportation of multiple hot ingots would also be allowed for up to 125 miles. Existing state law limits the transport of one hot ingot up to 25 miles.

No permits would be granted for travel on interstate highways.

The expanded hauling ability would apply as long as the gross weight does not exceed 150,000 pounds and the weight of any nonsteering axle does not exceed 21,000 pounds.

Rep. Jim Marshall, R-Butler, wrote that technological advances in the manufacturing process allow for ingots to be shipped in multiple pieces, “and the need for lengthier travel between manufacturing plants has become greater.”

His bill is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Pennsylvania, click here.

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