BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     SB 541  


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          Date of Hearing:  August 19, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                                 Jimmy Gomez, Chair


          SB 541  
          (Hill) - As Amended August 17, 2015


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          |Policy       |Utilities and Commerce         |Vote:|14 - 0       |
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          |             |Public Safety                  |     |7 - 0        |
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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  NoReimbursable:  No


          SUMMARY:


          This bill codifies the State Auditor recommendations to  
          strengthen the Public Utilities Commission's (PUC) oversight of  
          transportation-related activities. This bill allows peace  
          officers to impound buses and limousines of specified companies  








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          that carry passengers when they lack the required permits or  
          licensing.   Specifically, this bill:



          1)Directs the PUC to coordinate enforcement with peace officers,  
            as specified.

          2)Authorizes the Attorney General, a district attorney, or a  
            city attorney to prosecute actions or proceedings for the  
            violation of any law committed in connection with a  
            transaction involving the transportation of household goods  
            and personal effects.



          3)Requires the PUC to establish the specified goals related to  
            its existing authority to provide oversight and regulation of  
            transportation-related activities of household goods carriers  
            and Charter Party Carriers (CPC), and Passenger Stage  
            Corporations (PSC):



          4)Requires the PUC to assess its capabilities to carry out the  
            activities, specified in the goals, and submit a report to the  
            Legislature by January 1, 2017, with an analysis of current  
            capabilities and deficiencies, and recommendations to overcome  
            any deficiencies identified.



          5)Allows peace office to impound a bus or limousine of a CPC or  
            PSC for 30 days if the officer determines that specified  
            violations occurred while the driver was operating the vehicle  
            of the charter-party carrier:

          6)Clarifies that impoundment provisions do not apply to  
            privately owned, personal vehicles, or to charter-party  








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            carriers that are not required to carry individual permits.
          


          FISCAL EFFECT:


          Increased one-time costs of approximately $250,000 for the PUC  
          to assess the transportation program and submit an evaluation  
          report to the Legislature. 








          COMMENTS:


          1)Purpose.  According to the author, this bill improves the  
            functions of the Transportation Enforcement Branch (the  
            Branch) at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to improve  
            customer service and enforcement against illegally operating  
            charter-party carriers, passenger stage corporations, and  
            moving companies.


          2)Background.  In June 2014, the California State Auditor  
            released a report examining the Branch within the Safety and  
            Enforcement Division, efforts to regulate passenger carriers,  
            as well as its use of fees collected from carriers.  The  
            report found that the Branch did not provide sufficient  
            oversight of CPCs and PSCs to ensure consumer safety.  



          The report made a number of recommendations to address problems  








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            identified by the Auditor.  This bill codifies these  
            recommendations by requiring the PUC to establish specific  
            goals and assess its capabilities to achieve such goals, and  
            submit a report to the Legislature with an analysis of current  
            capabilities and deficiencies, and recommendations to overcome  
            any deficiencies identified.  
             To improve enforcement of the Branch, this bill authorizes  
            peace officers to help in the enforcement of  
            transportation-related services. The PUC would coordinate  
            efforts with peace officers through educational outreach and  
            establishing lines of communication. 


          3)Passenger Transportation.  California law regulates different  
            modes of passenger transportation for compensation, including  
            taxi services, which are regulated by cities and/or counties,  
            as well as CPCs and PSCs, which are regulated by the PUC.  The  
            division within the CPUC responsible to ensure that services  
            are delivered in a safe and reliable manner is the Safety and  
            Enforcement Division.  The division is responsible for safety  
            oversight in specific industries, including electric, natural  
            gas, and telecommunications infrastructure; railroads, rail  
            crossings, and light rail transit system; passenger carriers,  
            ferries; and household goods carriers. 



            The Division is funded through a fee assessed on various types  
            of state-regulated vehicles, including passenger carriers.   
            The PUC collects these fees from operators and deposits them  
            in the Transportation Reimbursement Account.  The PUC has set  
            the fee for passenger carriers that seat no more than 15  
            persons at 1/3 of 1 percent of their annual gross revenue,  
            plus a $10 quarterly fee or a $25 annual fee.  The PUC is  
            allowed to maintain an appropriate reserve in the account  
            based on past and projected operating experiences. 











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          Analysis Prepared by:Jennifer Galehouse / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081