Update: California trucking bills advance, die

| Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The California Legislature recently wrapped up their work for the year, but not before acting on a handful of efforts of interest to the trucking industry.

One measure that gained passage to the governor’s office prior to the close of the session Aug. 31 is a bill adding California to a national safety compliance database that monitors interstate truckers’ safety compliance. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed the bill into law.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, the measure allows 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 new law, previously AB2736, also staggers registration renewals instead of the current end-of-year registration renewal process.

A bill still awaiting Schwarzenegger’s signature would give owner-operators whose trucks service ports in California the right to collectively bargain.

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

It also 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. Owner-operators would have an anti-trust exemption.

Among the legislation affecting truckers that failed to advance to the governor’s desk are a pair of bills that focused on air quality and emissions reductions.

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza, D-Carson, the bill would have required local air districts to develop diesel reduction measures and plans to reduce emissions. Areas affected would have included 10 airports, five seaports and 25 rail yards.

The Senate voted 20-11 on their final day of work to kill the bill. If it had been approved, the bill – AB1101 – would have been sent back to the Assembly for approval of changes before heading to the governor’s desk.

One other failed effort would have established a revolving fund loan program to provide funding for truck parking space electrification and anti-idling truck cab technologies.

The measure – AB2647 – called for financing the installation of electrification facilities that would have enabled 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 have aided compliance with the California Air Resources Board’s heavy-duty vehicle idling emission reduction requirements. It was also consistent with the mandate to reduce particulate emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks.

The bills that failed passage can be reintroduced in the session that begins in December.

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