Trucking bills on the move in California

| 7/5/2006

In an effort to cut down on emissions, the California Senate recently voted to approve a bill that would fine ports that cause truck drivers to wait more than 30 minutes while doing business with terminals in the state. It is one of several trucking-related bills that are drawing consideration 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 in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Another trucking-related effort would give owner-operators whose trucks service ports in California the right to collectively bargain. The Assembly Labor and Employment Committee voted 6-2 June 22 to advance the bill to the Assembly floor. The Senate approved it in May.

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 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 drivers of 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.

Oropeza’s bill – AB2647 – won passage in the Assembly before it was forwarded to the Senate. It is now in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Senate approved a bill that would 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 measure would also stagger registration renewals instead of the current end-of-year registration renewal process.

Niello’s bill – AB2736 – has been sent back to the Assembly for approval of Senate changes. If approved, it would head to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor