BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    







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        |Hearing Date:June 28, 2010         |Bill No:AB                         |
        |                                   |2361                               |
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                      SENATE COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS, PROFESSIONS 
                               AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
                         Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, Chair

                         Bill No:        AB 2361Author:Ruskin
                    As Amended:April 29, 2010          Fiscal:  No

        
        SUBJECT:  Weights and measures:  inspection:  fees.
        
        SUMMARY:  Extends the sunset date on the authority of the board of  
        supervisors of a county to charge fees to recover the costs of the  
        county sealer to perform specified duties until January 1, 2013.

        Existing law:
        
       1)Provides that the Department of Food and Agriculture (DFA) has  
          general enforcement supervision of the laws relating to weights and  
          measures and measuring devices, and provides for the enforcement of  
          those laws and the inspection and testing of measuring devices, in  
          each county, by the county sealer.

       2)Requires the county sealer to inspect and test weighing and measuring  
          devices that are used or sold in the county and that are used for  
          commercial purposes and to weigh or measure packages used for  
          commercial purposes to determine whether they contain the amount  
          represented.

       3)Authorizes the county board of supervisors to charge an annual  
          registration fee for the inspection and testing of weighing and  
          measuring devices, including:  retail gas pump meters, livestock and  
          feed scales, motor truck scales, utility meters, liquefied petroleum  
          gas meters, vehicle meters, and all other commercial weighing and  
          measuring devices, and makes specified exceptions.  

       4)Establishes a fee schedule, providing for maximum annual amounts  
          which may be charged for device registration, and specifies that all  
          revenues collected shall be deposited into the county's general fund  
          and used solely for the purpose of device inspection and testing.  





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       5)Repeals ("sunsets") the authority to charge registration fees for  
          weighing and measuring devices on January 1, 2011.

        This bill:  Extends the sunset date on the authority of the board of  
        supervisors of a county to charge fees to recover the costs of the  
        county sealer to perform specified duties until January 1, 2013.

        FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.  This bill has been keyed "nonfiscal" by  
        Legislative Counsel.

        
        COMMENTS:
        
        1. Purpose.  This bill is sponsored by California Agricultural  
           Commissioners and Sealers Association (CACASA) to extend the  
           authority for collecting registration fees on weight and measuring  
           devices to January 1, 2013.  

        The CACASA states, "The authority to collect fees has never been  
           drafted in perpetuity and, to date, has always been scheduled to  
           sunset on a date specified in law.  This allows for stakeholder  
           discussion of the program before renewing the fee authority."

        2. Background.  Current law allows county boards of supervisors to  
           establish fees for business locations to partially fund local  
           weights and measures enforcement programs.  The fees are the single  
           largest source of revenue for the county program outside the County  
           General Fund.  The statute will sunset in January 1, 2011.

        The authority for weights and measures registration fees was passed by  
           the Legislature in 1982 to provide funding for weights and measures  
           inspection activities.  The law was amended in 1983, 1987, 1991,  
           1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2005 to add additional devices to  
           the registration program and to adjust the schedule of maximum  
           fees.  The section now applies to virtually all weighing and  
           measuring devices used commercially.  The only exceptions are farm  
           milk tanks, which are specifically exempted, and check out  
           scanners, which are not considered weighing or measuring devices.

        The range of weighing and measuring devices included in the  
           registration program currently includes retail fuel dispensing  
           meters; water meters; electric meters that measure electricity that  
           is sub-metered by a mobile home park; apartment complex, or boat  
           dock; liquefied petroleum gas meters or gas vapor meters that  
           are-sub-metered; truck scales, cattle scales and grocery counter  





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           scales; taxi meters; and a variety of other devices that weigh or  
           meter a commodity offered for sale.  The sunset date on the device  
           registration fees has been extended in 1985, 1987, 1988, 1992,  
           1995, 1997, 2000 and finally again in 2005.

        3. Prior Legislation.   AB 889  (Ruskin, Chapter 529, Statutes of 2005)  
           by the same Sponsor, extended the sunset date to January 1, 2011,  
           established a gradual increase in the fees that may be adopted by a  
           board of supervisors in order to more fully fund the local weights  
           and measure device inspection program.  The bill also established a  
           two-tiered fee schedule that provided both a location fee and a  
           device fee to more effectively capture the cost of the initial  
           device inspection.

         SB 1644  (Kelley, Chapter 592, Statutes of 1994) by the same Sponsor,  
           established the current administrative fine provisions for weights  
           and measures.  At that time CACSA introduced the bill in order to  
           allow the county sealer to handle many minor violations without  
           having to involve prosecution by the District Attorney (DA).  DAs  
           often do not have the resources available to pursue minor  
           violations and most businesses would prefer to resolve these issues  
           in a low key (without publicity) way.  The possibility of issuing  
           administrative fines has proven to be an effective incentive to  
           obtain compliance in areas where there are relatively isolated or  
           less serious violations.  Repeated violations can still be referred  
           to the DA for action.


         AB 1810  (Wiggins, Chapter 512, Statues of 2000) also by the same  
           Sponsor, extended the sunset dates on the civil penalty authority  
           and on device registration fees.

         SB 189  (Kelley, Chapter 476, Statutes of 1997) extended the sunset  
           date to January 1, 2001.

         AB 1728  (Murray, Chapter 47, Statutes of 1995) extended the sunset  
           date to January 1, 1998.

        4. Arguments in Support.  According to the Sponsor of the bill,  
            California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association   
           (CACASA), the bill was introduced as a vehicle to address the  
           upcoming sunset of the device registration program and also as a  
           catalyst to spur dialogue between county sealers and affected  
           industry groups.  As the bill moves forward, the Association will  
           welcome all affected industry groups to trade information and  
           assess the efficiencies and best practices utilized during the  





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           expansion of the program since 2005.

        CACASA commits to working with all interested parties, but will not  
           sacrifice the integrity of the program or dilute the oversight that  
           sealers provide the public.  If a device is being used to assess a  
           charge on a customer, it must be accurate."

        The  Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors  , states that over 77,900  
           commercial weighing and measuring devices are used by 3,500  
           businesses in Santa Clara County, and county staff conducts over  
           17,700 inspections and certifications for these devices each year.   
           Program fees generate approximately $790,000 which supplements the  
           local general fund contribution.  Consumers rely on the program to  
           test commercial devices, as they have no means to check the  
           accuracy of a gas pump, taxi meter, or a computing scale at a  
           supermarket.  The extension of the fee is vital for the protection  
           of consumers against fraud in the marketplace, and for promotion of  
           equity in the business community.

        The  San Diego County Board of Supervisors  writes that the county's  
           weights and measures department receive s approximately $2.5  
           million in funding annually from these programs.  Should the  
           authority to charge fees not be extended, the county sealer would  
           still be required to perform these duties but without a funding  
           source from the regulated industry.

        5. Neutral Position:  Truck Renting and Leasing Association.  The  
            Truck Renting and Leasing Association  (TRALA) had previously taken  
           an oppose unless amended position on the bill, objecting to the  
           county-based registration and inspection program for truck  
           odometers administered in some counties.  TRALA states because  
           rental truck odometers are used to determine mileage-based charges  
           in some rental truck contracts, they are registered and inspected  
           by eight of the fifty-eight counties in California.  The Sponsor,  
           the Author's staff and Committee staff have worked closely together  
           to address the issues identified by TRALA, and  ultimately  the  
           Sponsor has agreed to only extend the sunset date two years to 2013  
           (instead of 2016) and to discontinue fees on rental truck odometers  
           during this period in order to allow discussions to continue  
           without interrupting the broader work carried out by county  
           sealers.  During this period TRALA and the Sponsor will continue to  
           discuss the issues raised by the truck renting and leasing  
           industry.  As a result, TRALA has now taken a neutral position on  
           the bill.    

        





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        SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION:
        
         Support:  

        California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association  
          (Sponsor)
        California State Association of Counties
        Regional Council of Rural Counties
        Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors
        San Diego County Board of Supervisors

         Opposition:  

        None received as of June 21, 2010



        Consultant:G. V. Ayers