BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                              Senator Jim Beall, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:          AB 995            Hearing Date:    7/14/2015
          |Author:   |Bigelow                                               |
          |Version:  |4/29/2015                                             |
          |Urgency:  |No                     |Fiscal:      |Yes             |
          |Consultant|Christine Hochmuth                                    |
          |:         |                                                      |

          SUBJECT:  Farm vehicles:  registration exemptions

           DIGEST:  This bill exempts onion hauling trucks (OHTs) from  

          Existing law:

          1)Requires vehicles driven upon a highway to be registered with  
            the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

          2)Defines implements of husbandry as vehicles which are used  
            exclusively in the conduct of agricultural operations, and  
            exempts those which are only incidentally operated or moved  
            over a highway from registration.
          3)Exempts certain farm vehicles from registration, if they have,  
            and display, a special equipment identification plate as  

          4)Specifies that farm vehicles are subject to all equipment and  
            device requirements as if they are registered.

          This bill:

          1)Defines an OHT as a specialized motor truck equipped with a  
            loading conveyor belt that is designed and used exclusively to  
            transport field manufactured onions to an onion-processing  


          AB 995 (Bigelow)                                   Page 2 of ?
            facility or onion-packing shed and that travels on a highway  
            for a distance not to exceed 20 miles from the point of origin  
            of the trip.

          2)Adds OHTs to the list of farm vehicles exempt from  

          3)Provides that in order to maintain the exemption from  
            registration, the owner of the OHT must not operate the  
            vehicle during the exemption period in any manner other than  
            as an OHT.

          4)Requires the owner to register the vehicle with DMV before  
            operating it as a commercial motor vehicle.

          5)Requires the owner to apply to DMV as required for any renewal  
            of the exemption from registration.

          6)Requires an operator of an OHT to possess a valid Class A  
            driver's license.

          7)States that exemption from registration does not exempt an OHT  
            from safety requirements of the vehicle code or any  
            regulations related to equipment standards, driver licensing  
            requirements, maximum driving and on-duty hours provisions,  
            log book requirements, drug and alcohol testing, maintenance  
            of vehicles, and any driver or vehicle standards.


          1)Purpose.  The author states that farmers need flexibility with  
            the distance that OHTs can travel.  Farm vehicles that  
            transport agricultural products are only allowed to operate on  
            California roads up to a one-mile distance while still  
            maintaining their classification as an implement of husbandry  
            and subsequent exemption from registration requirements.   
            According to farmers, onion field locations can vary from year  
            to year, and they are often farther than one mile away from  
            the onion-processing facility or onion-packaging shed, thus  
            making OHTs ineligible for exemption under the current law.

          Figure 1.  Onion hauling truck (picture provided by author)

          2)Existing law and registration exemptions.  Vehicles that are  


          AB 995 (Bigelow)                                   Page 3 of ?
            operated on farms and that are only incidentally driven on  
            highways, no more than a mile, are exempt from registration  
            requirements.  While use of farm vehicles on highways is  
            generally restricted to protect the safety of the traveling  
            public, existing law also exempts from registration  
            requirements and commercial vehicle safety requirements a  
            number of farm vehicles that are operated on highways beyond  
            the typical one-mile limit.  The law provides varying  
            allowances for these vehicles depending on their type.  For  
            example, melon trucks are exempt from registration and allowed  
            to travel up to two miles on highways, while trucks carrying  
            livestock feed (silage) are exempt and allowed to travel up to  
            20 miles on highways.

          3)Motor Carrier Permit Program and the Biennial Inspection of  
            Terminals (BIT) Program.  A motor carrier permit is a document  
            issued by the DMV's Registration Operations Division.  The  
            permit is issued to the motor carrier as evidence of  
            registration with the DMV of their Carrier Identification  
            number.  Additionally, the permit verifies the motor carrier  
            has met all of the statutory requirements to commercially  
            operate motor vehicles on California's highways. 

            In 1988, the Legislature enacted the California Commercial  
            Motor Vehicle Safety Act, also known as the BIT Program, in an  
            effort to alleviate the growing number of truck-related  
            collisions on California's highways.  Primarily, the intent is  
            to ensure every truck terminal throughout the state is  
            inspected by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) on a regular  
            basis, thereby creating a level field for all motor carriers  

            Exempting OHTs from registration would create a class of  
            vehicles traveling significant distances without an avenue for  
            inspection.  Additionally, registration holds are effective to  
            engage and bring parties into compliance and are critical to  
            other enforcement programs (e.g., the Air Resources Board  
            Truck and Bus Regulation programs, which require diesel trucks  
            and buses that operate in California to be upgraded or  
            replaced in order to reduce emissions).

          4)Heavy loads.  Overweight trucks can damage infrastructure.   
            Regulations on the operation of commercial vehicles, often  
            enforced at the time of registration, help to mitigate wear  
            and tear that these vehicles can cause to roads by ensuring  


          AB 995 (Bigelow)                                   Page 4 of ?
            that weight limits are not exceeded and that heavy vehicles  
            pay a proportionate share.

          5)A truck is a truck is a truck.  According to the author, OHTs  
            are specialized motor trucks that are equipped with a loading  
            conveyor belt.  They are designed and used exclusively to  
            transport field manufactured onions to an onion-processing  
            facility or an onion-packaging shed no farther than 20 miles  
            away from the point of origin of the trip.  The author also  
            recognizes that many specific pieces of farm equipment are  
            exempt from registration due to their distinctive character,  
            specific period of use, and unique need for California's  
            roads.  However, OHTs are trucks (see Figure 1), and the only  
            thing that makes them OHTs is the presence of onions.  In  
            their opposition letter, CHP raises enforcement concerns  
            because these vehicles could be used to transport other  

            The committee may wish to consider whether an OHT's sole  
            purpose is for hauling onions or whether it may easily be used  
            for alternative projects unintended by this bill.
          6)Why onions?  According to the Department of Food and  
            Agriculture, California's agricultural abundance includes more  
            than 400 commodities.  The state produces nearly half of the  
            fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in the U.S.  

            The committee may wish to ask the authors to justify why this  
            commodity has been selected to enjoy the privilege of  

          Related Legislation:
          AB 1908 (Bigelow, 2014) - exempted OHTs from registration and  
          commercial motor vehicle safety requirements.  AB 1908 was  
          referred to the Assembly Transportation Committee, but was not  
          heard at the request of the author.

          AB 1749 (Pan, 2012) - exempted walnut-carrying vehicles from  
          registration and commercial motor vehicle safety requirements.   
          AB 1749 was referred to the Assembly Transportation Committee,  
          but was not heard at the request of the author. 
          SB 1435 (Monteith, Chapter 114, Statutes of 1996) - defines  
          silage and exempts trucks carrying silage from motor vehicle  


          AB 995 (Bigelow)                                   Page 5 of ?
          registration requirements, which include the transport of silage  
          or empty return from carrying silage, when traveling within a  
          farm or between farms for a distance of not more than 20 miles  
          and when operated by a farmer, an employee of the farmer, or a  
          contract employee of the farmer.  

          AB 3585 (Rogers, Chapter 1077, Statutes of 1984) - exempts truck  
          tractors or truck tractor and semitrailer combinations owned by  
          a farmer and operated on a highway incidental to a farming  
          operation provided the truck has a gross vehicle weight rating  
          of over 10,000 pounds and is equipped with all-wheel drive and  
          off-highway traction tires on all wheels and used exclusively in  
          the production or harvesting of melons.  AB 3585 specified that  
          these vehicles shall not be operated laden on the highway for  
          more than two miles.  

          Assembly Votes:

            Floor:    74-0 
            Appr:     17-0 
            Trans:    15-0 
          FISCAL EFFECT:  Appropriation:  No    Fiscal Com.:  Yes     
          Local:  Yes

            POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on  
                          July 8, 2015.)

          California Farm Bureau
          Dalena Farms, Inc.
          Nisei Farmers League
          Tulare County Farm Bureau


          California Highway Patrol

                                      -- END --


          AB 995 (Bigelow)                                   Page 6 of ?