BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND HOUSING
                              Senator Jim Beall, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:          AB 995            Hearing Date:    6/28/2016
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          |Author:   |Bigelow                                               |
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          |Version:  |4/29/2015                                             |
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          |Urgency:  |No                     |Fiscal:      |Yes             |
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          |Consultant|Sarah Carvill                                         |
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          SUBJECT:  Farm vehicles:  registration exemptions


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

          ANALYSIS:
          
          Existing law:

          1)Requires vehicles driven upon a highway to be registered with  
            the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and imposes  
            registration fees related to the use and/or size of the  
            vehicle.

          2)Defines implements of husbandry as vehicles which are used  
            exclusively in the conduct of agricultural operations, and  
            exempts from registration those which are only incidentally  
            operated or moved over a highway.

          3)Specifies that any vehicle may be considered an implement of  
            husbandry if it is operated on highways only for the purpose  
            of transporting agricultural products and is not operated on a  
            highway for a total distance greater than one mile from the  
            point of origin of the trip.

          4)Provides that the certain types of farm vehicles, as  
            specified, may obtain a special equipment plate, and exempts  
            these vehicles from registration.








          AB 995 (Bigelow)                                   Page 2 of ?
          
          
          5)Specifies that farm vehicles are subject to all equipment and  
            device requirements as if they are registered.

          6)Requires motor carriers of property to obtain a motor carrier  
            permit from the DMV. In order to obtain a permit, the carrier  
            must:

             a)   Show proof that it has met applicable requirements  
               related to insurance and workers' compensation

             b)   Obtain a carrier identification number from the  
               California Highway Patrol (CHP)

             c)   Comply with the requirements of the Basic Inspection of  
               Terminals (BIT) program, if applicable

             d)   Pay the appropriate permit fees, as specified

          1)Establishes a pull-notice system to notify employers of any  
            current public records that are relevant to the driving  
            privileges of an employee engaged as a vehicle driver.

          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  
            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  
            registration.

          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.









          AB 995 (Bigelow)                                   Page 3 of ?
          
          
          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.

          
          COMMENTS:

          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  
            operated on farms and that are only incidentally driven on  
            highways, for 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 BIT Program.  A motor  
            carrier permit is a document issued by the DMV's Registration  
            Operations Division.  The permit is issued to the motor  








          AB 995 (Bigelow)                                   Page 4 of ?
          
          
            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  
            statewide.  

            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  
            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  
            commodities. 








          AB 995 (Bigelow)                                   Page 5 of ?
          
          

          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.  

            In light of these concerns, the author and committee may wish  
            to consider amendments that completely repeal the proposed OHT  
            exemption and instead implement a pilot program with a sunset  
            date of January 1, 2020, limited to the county of Fresno that  
            exempts a broader class of agricultural vehicles from  
            registration under the following conditions:

             a)   The vehicle must be designed and used exclusively for  
               carrying, or returning from carrying, agricultural or  
               farming products

             b)   The vehicle must be used on a highway only to travel  
               between farms or between parts of a farm, for a distance of  
               no more than twenty air miles

             c)   Operation on the highway must be incidental to a farming  
               operation and not for hire or compensation

             d)   The vehicle must qualify for and display a special  
               identification plate.

             e)   The user of the vehicle must obtain a motor carrier  
               permit from the DMV and a carrier identification number  
               from the CHP

             f)   The user of the vehicle must conduct regular inspections  
               and maintenance on the vehicle, as specified in existing  
               law, and submit to inspections under the (BIT) program
                  
              g)   Employers participating in the program must enroll all  
               drivers in the DMV pull-notice system, including owners or  
               family members who drive a participating vehicle
           
             The suggested amendments would also include a requirement that  
            the CHP and the DMV report to the Legislature on the status  
            and effectiveness of the pilot program on or before July 1,  
            2018.  The CHP and the DMV would be required to include in the  
            report:









          AB 995 (Bigelow)                                   Page 6 of ?
          
          
             a)   A description of the number of vehicles enrolled

             b)   An evaluation of the loss of registration funding  
               attributable to the program

             c)   A description of collisions involving vehicles enrolled  
               enforcement issues, and safety issues

            The proposed program would not impact vehicles that currently  
            qualify for a special equipment plate because they travel on  
            highways for distances no greater than one mile.
          
          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  
          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 








          AB 995 (Bigelow)                                   Page 7 of ?
          
          
            Appr:     17-0 
            Trans:    15-0 
          
          FISCAL EFFECT:  Appropriation:  No    Fiscal Com.:  Yes     
          Local:  Yes


            POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on  
          Wednesday,
                          June 22, 2016.)
          
            SUPPORT:  

          California Farm Bureau (prior version)
          Dalena Farms, Inc. (prior version)
          Nisei Farmers League (prior version)
          Tulare County Farm Bureau (prior version)






          OPPOSITION:

          California Highway Patrol (prior version)
          Department of Motor Vehicles (prior version)


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