BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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

          Bill No:          SB 344            Hearing Date:    4/14/2015
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          |Author:   |Monning                                               |
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          |Version:  |2/24/2015                                             |
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          |Urgency:  |No                     |Fiscal:      |Yes             |
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          |Consultant|Erin Riches                                           |
          |:         |                                                      |
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          SUBJECT:  Commercial driver's license:  education


           DIGEST:  This bill requires an individual to successfully  
          complete a course of instruction that is approved by the state  
          Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in order to obtain a  
          commercial driver's license.

          ANALYSIS:
          
          Existing law:

          Prohibits an individual from operating a commercial motor  
          vehicle unless he or she has in his or her immediate possession  
          a valid commercial driver's license of the appropriate class.  

          Requires a commercial driver's license for a variety of trucks  
          weighing more than 26,000 lbs., passenger buses, and vehicles  
          carrying hazardous materials.  

          Requires an individual, in order to obtain a commercial driver's  
          license, to successfully complete both a written and driving  
          test that comply with the minimum federal standards to operate a  
          commercial motor vehicle.

          Authorizes DMV to waive the driving test for an individual with  
          military commercial motor vehicle experience if the individual  
          is currently licensed with the U.S. Armed Forces and his or her  
          driving record and experience meet the minimum federal  
          standards.







          SB 344 (Monning)                                   Page 2 of ?
          
          

          Requires DMV to prescribe and conduct commercial written and  
          driving tests, but authorizes DMV to enter into agreements with  
          third-party testers to administer the driving test (the Employer  
          Testing Program).

          Exempts members and reservists of the U.S. Armed Forces,  
          National Guard, and U.S. Coast Guard from all commercial  
          driver's license requirements and sanctions.  
          Establishes the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education  
          (BPPE) within the Department of Consumer Affairs to protect  
          students and provide regulatory oversight of private  
          postsecondary (post-high school) educational and vocational  
          institutions.  Requires BPPE to review, investigate, and approve  
          private postsecondary institutions, programs, and courses of  
          instruction and authorizes BPPE to take formal action against  
          institutions to ensure compliance.

          Exempts from BPPE regulation an institution that does not award  
          degrees and that solely provides educational programs for total  
          charges of less than $2,500, provided that no part of the  
          charges is paid from state or federal student financial aid  
          programs.  

          This bill:
          
          Provides that in order to obtain a commercial driver's license,  
          an individual must successfully complete a course of instruction  
          from a commercial motor vehicle driver training institution that  
          has been certified by DMV, in addition to successfully  
          completing a written and driving test.

          Prohibits DMV from certifying a commercial motor vehicle  
          training institution until it has approved the institution's  
          training program.  Requires DMV to update its standards as  
          necessary to comply with guidance or requirements established by  
          the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

          Exempts from the course requirement a commercial motor vehicle  
          driver with military motor vehicle experience who is currently  
          licensed with the U.S. Armed Forces, provided that his or her  
          driving record and driving experience meet the minimum federal  
          standards.  Also exempts from the course requirement a  
          commercial motor vehicle driver who presents a valid certificate  
          of driving skill issued through the Employer Testing Program  








          SB 344 (Monning)                                   Page 3 of ?
          
          
          (ETP).

          Provides that an institution that is certified by DMV to offer a  
          course of instruction to prepare students to obtain a commercial  
          driver's license may not claim an exemption from BPPE  
          regulation.

          COMMENTS:

          1.Purpose.  The author states that 5,327 truck collisions, of  
            which 235 involved fatalities, were reported to the California  
            Highway Patrol in 2012.  In July 2014, a truck with a double  
            tractor-trailer loaded with 50,000 pounds of soil lost control  
            on Highway 17 and crashed into 10 cars, injuring seven people  
            and killing 25-year-old Daniel McGuire of Santa Cruz.  The  
            driver had little, if any, formal training prior to the crash.  
             The author states that by ensuring that commercial truck  
            drivers receive an adequate standard of training, this bill  
            can help reduce the risk of tragic and fatal truck accidents.

          2.Ensuring legitimate training.  Last year, the Legislature  
            reauthorized the existence of BPPE (SB 1247, Lieu, Chapter  
            840, Statutes of 2014).  The Senate Floor Analysis for SB 1247  
            notes that "As the number of students served by private  
            postsecondary institutions has increased, so has the focus on  
            fraudulent practices and low academic standards.  There have  
            been numerous high-profile federal investigations into the  
            practices of for-profit institutions in recent years."   
            According to the author, truck driver training options can  
            range from a $7,000, five-month, intensive training program to  
            a $50 DVD.  This bill aims to protect students from fraudulent  
            truck driver training schools by removing the exemption from  
            BPPE regulation for schools that charge less than $2,500 for a  
            course of instruction and by requiring individuals to complete  
            a course of instruction from a DMV-certified institution.

          3.Employer Testing Program (ETP) exemption.  This bill exempts  
            from the course requirement an individual who presents a valid  
            certificate of driving skill issued through ETP.  ETP allows  
            firms that employ commercial drivers to administer driving  
            tests for their employees (but written tests must be taken  
            through DMV).  According to the California Trucking  
            Association, 180 employers in the state currently participate  
            in ETP.  In order to participate, employers must apply to DMV,  
            obtain DMV approval for examiners and training, and meet  








          SB 344 (Monning)                                   Page 4 of ?
          
          
            specified record retention requirements.  In addition, DMV  
            regularly inspects and audits ETP participants.  The author  
            states that because ETP is highly regulated by DMV, it is  
            appropriate to exempt individuals who have passed an ETP test  
            from the course requirement.

          4.Expand the ETP exemption?  The Commercial Vehicle Training  
            Association (CVTA), while supportive of this bill, seeks  
            amendments expanding the ETP exemption to include a  
            certificate issued by any third-party testing facility. CVTA  
            states that commercial driver's license applicants in  
            California face wait times of 30-45 days to take the test.  As  
            a result, despite a shortage of 35,000 drivers in the trucking  
            industry, many students give up because they cannot afford to  
            be unemployed while waiting to take the test.  

            As noted above, DMV closely regulates ETP to ensure that firms  
            participating in the program adhere to federal standards.   
            While existing law authorizes DMV to include driving schools  
            in a third-party testing agreement, DMV regulations limit the  
            program to employers of drivers.  This bill seeks to ensure  
            that students receive training from legitimate institutions  
            that are certified by DMV.  Amending this bill to expand the  
            ETP exemption to non-regulated third-party testers would  
            appear to be inconsistent with the intent of this bill.  

          5.Federal standards.  Federal regulations require an individual  
            to successfully pass written and driving tests that meet  
            federal standards in order to obtain a commercial driver's  
            license, but do not require an individual to take a course of  
            instruction.  The federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the  
            21st Century Act (P.L. 112-141, commonly known as MAP-21),  
            signed by President Obama in July 2012, directs FMCSA to  
            establish new regulations for minimum training requirements  
            for individuals applying for a commercial driver's license.   
            FMCSA has established a stakeholder committee, which began  
            conducting public meetings in March 2015 to consider  
            requirements such as length of classroom instruction and  
            behind-the-wheel experience.  FMCSA intends to publish  
            proposed regulations late this year.  This bill requires DMV  
            to update its standards as necessary to comply with FMCSA  
            guidance or requirements.  

          6.What about commercial drivers from other states?  Federal law  
            prohibits an individual from holding a license from more than  








          SB 344 (Monning)                                   Page 5 of ?
          
          
            one state.  If an individual from another jurisdiction were to  
            apply for a commercial driver's license in California, he or  
            she would have to surrender his or her current license and  
            meet the requirements of this bill when applying for a  
            California license.  Alternatively, if an individual holds a  
            license from another state, the license is recognized in  
            California as long as it is valid.  

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Appropriation:  No    Fiscal Com.:  Yes     
          Local:  No


            POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on  
          Wednesday,
                          April 8, 2015.)
          
            SUPPORT:  

          California Association of Highway Patrolmen
          California Trucking Association 
          Capitola City Council
          City of San Jose
          Consumer Attorneys of California
          Peace Officers Research Association of California
          Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors
          Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission
          Scotts Valley City Council


          OPPOSITION:

          None received.

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