California panel sets May 3 hearing on port 'late fee' bill

| 4/28/2005

A Senate panel has set a hearing for a bill that would prohibit the owners of some intermodal equipment from hitting truckers with detention charges.

The California Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing has scheduled time to hear testimony on the bill, SB45, May 3. A previous hearing was canceled at the request of Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-San Fernando Valley, the majority whip in California’s upper legislative chamber and the bill’s primary sponsor.

The bill declares that “termination, suspension or restriction of equipment interchange rights without prior judicial action is contrary to the public policy of the state of California.”

It specifically would prohibit intermodal marine equipment providers or marine terminal operators from imposing per diem, detention or demurrage charges on intermodal motor carriers.

Many of the drivers that use port- or terminal-owned equipment – such as containers and container chassis – at California ports are owner-operators.

Under the bill, ports or terminals could not charge truckers “late fees” if: the terminal gate is closed; the terminal chooses to divert the truck to a new destination without “proper notification,” which the bill defines as seven days; the intermodal equipment is not in compliance; and in a number of other circumstances.