California legislators review several trucking bills

| 5/19/2006

In an effort to cut down on emissions, a bill moving through the California Senate would fine ports that cause truck drivers to wait more than 30 minutes while doing business with terminals in the state. It is among a handful of trucking-related bills before lawmakers in the state.

Under current California law, marine terminals that cause trucks to idle or queue – wait in line – for more than 30 minutes to load or unload can face fines.

Sponsored by Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, the bill would require marine terminals to operate in such a manner that doesn’t cause trucks to wait – and idle – for more than 30 minutes outside terminal gates.

The bill also states that once inside the gates, truckers could not be made to wait more than 30 minutes for a single transaction. Unloading and loading must be completed in 60 minutes.

Lowenthal’s bill starts the clock on the so-called 30-minute “turn time” from the moment a truck enters the first gate or queue at the terminal, and does not stop the clock until that truck leaves the exit gate.

Marine terminals found to be in violation, would face a $250 fine per occurrence. Any attempt by owners or operators of terminals to avoid or circumvent these requirements would result in a $750 fine.

Terminals would be exempted from the proposed rules if the delay is caused by certain specified events.

The bill – SB1829 – is awaiting a final vote on the Senate floor.

Another trucking-related effort would give owner-operators whose trucks service ports in California the right to collectively bargain. The Senate voted 23-13 May 11 to forward the bill to the Assembly for further consideration.

Sponsored by Sen. Joseph Dunn, D-Garden Grove, the bill – SB1213 – would extend to port owner-operators the right to organize and to collectively negotiate with port motor carriers regarding such matters as compensation and benefits.

In addition, it would extend to those drivers key benefits that many employees in the state have, such as the ability to withhold their services on a collective basis – in essence, the right to legally strike – and to be free from any coercion by port motor carriers regarding those rights.

A separate bill would aid truck retrofits in the state.

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Shirley Horton, R-Lemon Grove, the bill would establish a revolving loan pilot program administered by the California Energy Commission until Jan. 1, 2012, to finance emission-reduction kits and optional energy improvements for heavy-duty diesel trucks operating at least 75 percent within the state.

It is intended to help reduce the consumption of diesel fuel in the state, reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and save truckers money.

Small businesses with up to five trucks and large businesses with up to 10 trucks would be eligible to receive funding for the retrofit kits.

According to a legislative analysis on the bill, about 68,000 on-highway Class 8 trucks would be eligible for the retrofits.

Another piece of legislation is intended to aid truckers.

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza, D-Carson, the bill would establish a revolving fund loan program to provide funding for truck parking space electrification and anti-idling truck cab technologies.

The measure would finance the installation of electrification facilities that would enable large trucks “to use plug-in electricity to power their in-cab needs rather than using main engine or auxiliary diesel powered units,” Oropeza wrote.

According to a legislative analysis, the bill would also aid compliance with the California Air Resources Board’s heavy-duty vehicle idling emission reduction requirements. It is also consistent with the mandate to reduce particulate emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks.

One other bill would allow add California to a national safety compliance database that monitors interstate truckers’ safety compliance.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, the measure would allow the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles access to the registration information for out-of-state truckers doing business in the state.

Niello said the goal of the program is that law enforcement would have the same information for interstate carriers as they have for intrastate carriers.

The bill would also stagger registration renewals instead of the current end-of-year registration renewal process.

Horton’s bill – AB1901 – and Oropeza’s bill – AB2647 – are in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Niello’s bill – AB2736 – is in the Senate Rules Committee. The Assembly approved it Thursday, May 18.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor