BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 2118
                                                                  Page  1

          CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS
          AB 2118 (Butler)
          As Amended  August 6, 2012
          Majority vote
           
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          |ASSEMBLY:  |70-0 |(May 25, 2012)  |SENATE: |37-0 |(August 23,    |
          |           |     |                |        |     |2012)          |
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           Original Committee Reference:    U. & C.  

           SUMMARY  :  Seeks to additionally prohibit a household goods 
          carrier from being a broker; requires a link from the household 
          goods carrier's Web site, if applicable, to consumer protections 
          on the Web site of the California Public Utilities Commission 
          (PUC); to permit PUC access to telephone subscriber's data upon 
          determining use of the number by an unlicensed household good's 
          carrier and increased civil and criminal penalties for 
          fraudulent representation of licensed household goods carrier 
          status.  Specifically,  this bill  : 

          1)Prohibits a household goods carrier from arranging as a broker 
            for the transportation of used household goods and personal 
            effects. 

          2)Creates a definition of a "broker" to be a person engaged for 
            others in the act of arranging, for compensation, the 
            transportation of used household goods by a motor vehicle over 
            the highways of this state for or on behalf of a shipper, 
            consignor, or a consignee.

          3)Permits PUC to order an Internet Web site provider or the 
            source of an Internet posting to remove the post of the 
            unlicensed household goods carrier.

          4)Requires a household goods carrier with an Internet Web site 
            to add a link on that site that directs consumers to PUC's 
            Internet Web site that promotes consumer rights and 
            protection.

          5)Requires telephone companies to provide access to the name and 
            address of the subscriber whose telephone number is being use 
            by an unlicensed household goods carrier without the written 
            consent of the subscriber.








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          6)Increases the dollar limit of the misdemeanor fine for 
            violating the Act from $1,000 to $5,000.

          7)Provides for a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 per day 
            of violation when a household goods carrier falsifies 
            licensure, membership in an association, or location.

           The Senate amendments  specify that PUC establish rules for 
          electronic documents no later than July 1, 2013, and allows 
          household goods carriers to use electronic forms if agreed to by 
          the carrier and the customer. 

           AS PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY  , this bill was substantially similar 
          to the bill passed by the Senate.  
                
           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Senate Appropriations 
          Committee, pursuant to Senate Rule 28.8, negligible state costs.

           COMMENTS  :  According to the author, "The Household Goods 
          Carriers Act of 1951 paved the way for regulation of the moving 
          and storage industry in California.  Substantial amendments have 
          not been made to update the Act to prevent the industry from 
          rouge and unlicensed moving companies.  This bill will stiffen 
          fines against unlicensed moving companies by matching fines 
          currently given to the licensed, regulated companies while also 
          promoting consumer knowledge and protection by adding a consumer 
          rights link provided by PUC to each licensed moving company's 
          Web site.  Also, this bill will create rules to allow the 
          commission to adopt the use of electronic transactions between a 
          carrier and shipper." 

          The sponsor of this bill, The California Moving and Storage 
          Association (CMSA), is familiar with the practices of unethical 
          and unlicensed household goods carriers.  It believes that many 
          unlicensed operators hold the mistaken belief that they operate 
          in a gray area as the Act only applies to licensed providers.  
          CMSA suggests that the Act be amended to make it clear that it 
          applies to all that seek to move used household goods and 
          personal items in the state.

          This bill also contains the addition of a definition for a 
          "broker" to update the code now that many unlicensed operators 
          use the Internet to attract customers, typically bid the job, 
          illegally contract out the work, collect the fees and then 








                                                                  AB 2118
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          disappear. 

          The bill also would require each household goods carrier that 
          does list its company on the Internet to add or include a link 
          that directs all consumers to an Internet Web site hosted by PUC 
          that promotes consumer rights and protection.

          Every household goods carrier and every officer or employee of 
          the carrier who violates the Act or who aids or abets any 
          violations or fails to obey or comply with any PUC order or 
          regulation is guilty of a misdemeanor, and can be fine up to 
          $1,000 or imprisoned in a county jail for up to three months or 
          both.  This bill would increase the penalty for certain 
          violations up to $2,500 with a minimum penalty of $1,000 for 
          operating without a permit.  If a violation is willful, each 
          willful violation is punishable by fine up to $10,000 or by 
          imprisonment in a county jail for up to a year, or both. 

          This bill seeks to create a new fine for the fraudulent use of 
          household goods carriers that falsify licenses, association 
          membership, or a location.  The new fine would be not more than 
          $2,500 per day that the carrier is in violation.  This fine was 
          added because such representations falsely portray legitimacy 
          and attract unsophisticated customers.
           

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Susan Kateley / U. & C. / (916) 
          319-2083 


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