OOIDA supports California proposal to adopt leasing regs

| Thursday, October 15, 2009

If California follows through with adopting the federal leasing regulations into state law, intrastate truckers would be afforded a whole new level of legal protection against unscrupulous leases.

OOIDA sent Regulatory Affairs Specialist Joe Rajkovacz to testify in favor of the California Highway Patrol’s proposal to adopt federal leasing regulations for motor carriers.

“We were there obviously to support this regulation,” Rajkovacz told Land Line following the hearing, Thursday, Oct. 15, in Sacramento.

Since filing written comments in June, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been gearing up to face opposition from the California Trucking Association on the issue.

It was important for OOIDA to be in the room and testifying, Rajkovacz said, because the only other groups represented at the hearing were the CTA and the California Dump Truck Owners.

“This is good stuff for our members in California that lease to motor carriers,” Rajkovacz said.

It’s also important to let members know how the opposition feels.

CTA officials formulated an argument that the adoption of federal leasing regulations would somehow violate the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, which prohibits a state from creating rules for pricing, routing or service for motor carriers.

“It’s a real tortured bit of logic and a real stretch for them to make that argument,” Rajkovacz said.

“CHP should rightly ignore that argument. It is not applicable. It’s a damned good argument, but it doesn’t work here. Nice try.”

California Highway Patrol officials will take the comments under advisement and have two options: – either move towards a final rule or consider changes, which would trigger another comment period.

OOIDA supports the adoption of federal regulations based on issues of safety and responsibility.

“OOIDA believes that this proposed rulemaking will enhance CHP’s ability to place proper accountability on the responsible motor carrier and thereby improve highway safety in California,” Association leadership wrote in June.

Rajkovacz said an owner-operator’s economic situation should be considered as part of the equation.

“Safety is directly related to an individual’s finances. I used a blunt argument,” he said. “If I’m broke and I need new rubber, I’m going to continue to drive down the road as long as I can. There’s not an economic level playing field for owner-operators.”

Besides, federal regulations are designed to be adopted in their entirety by states, he adds.

“This is not CHP writing an economic regulation out of the blue. It’s nothing more than them adopting a chapter that’s written right into the CFRs,” Rajkovacz said.

Other states – Rajkovacz points to Virginia – have adopted Part 376 of the leasing regulations.

“It sets a base floor of conduct, too, between the carrier and the owner-operator,” he said.

– By David Tanner, staff writer