California Senate OKs bill to fine ports for forcing trucks to idle

| 8/18/2004

The California Senate has approved a bill that would expand the list of who can be fined for making truckers wait at port terminals in the state. The measure is now back in the state’s Assembly, which must approve changes the Senate made to the bill before passing it on to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature.

The bill, AB1971, passed the upper chamber by a vote of 26-2 on Aug. 16.

It would modify AB2650, which was signed into law by the governor in September 2002. That law requires every marine terminal in California to operate in a way that keeps trucks from idling any more than 30 minutes while waiting to load or unload or face a fine. The new bill, AB1971, would take those fines and expand them to port operators.

Under the current law, marine terminal operators who try to divert trucks to freeways or staging areas away from the ports to avoid the law face an additional fine. The new law has an additional provision that would prohibit the terminals from passing the cost of the fines on to truck owners and operators. Terminal operators could face a $250 fine for every truck left idling more than 30 minutes; if the terminal diverts the idling trucks, that fine increases to $750.

The law also requires each state air quality district to determine the level of monitoring and enforcement necessary based on the truck idling problem that exists within the district.

Under AB1971, those fines would expand to include terminals that make truckers “queue,” or wait in line. It would also expand the duties of air-quality districts to cover queuing trucks as well as idling ones. Lowenthal also sponsored the original law, AB2650.

The General Assembly’s Web site indicated that a final vote by the Assembly could occur any time after Aug. 18.