The President's Column
by Steve Weitekamp
Preparing for our monthly newsletter requires a broad review of many industry resources. As part of this process, I recently read an interview of current American Trucking Association (ATA) President Bill Graves. He was discussing his thoughts on the future of the ATA as he prepares to retire and hand over responsibilities to a new leadership team. Several of the issues he saw as critical to the future of the trucking industry, related to regulatory and environmental challenges, seem as relevant to CMSA as to ATA. My interpretation of Graves thoughts were that while it is ever more difficult to be a one-size-fits-all organization, with an ever escalating diversity of thoughts on a broad array of issues, it remains critical that we stand united as an industry to have any impact on legislative efforts. To that end, our Association is the most important tool we have to impact regulation and legislation.
June was such a busy month, and generally I would use my column to recap all the activities of the month. Items such as the meeting of the National Council of Moving Associations and my recent meeting with the CPUC, where staff agreed to work with the CMSA toward a replacement for the outdated Distance Table 8 with a more contemporary methodology for computing mileage. Hopefully, we can have that review in a future column. But today, I am consumed with one overriding issue that I want to share with you.
On Monday, June 27th around 11am, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) and Senators Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) announced a sweeping package of reforms to bolster governance, accountability, transparency and oversight of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
"These reforms will change how this commission does business," said Governor Brown. "Public access to meetings and records will be expanded, new safety and oversight positions will be created and ex parte communication rules will be strengthened."
"These reforms mark a new beginning for the CPUC. The commission will become transparent and accountable to Californians and focused on the safety of our communities," said Assemblymember Gatto, chair of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee. "I want to thank my colleagues in the Legislature and Governor Brown for their support of these key reforms."
“Increasing the CPUC's focus and expertise by relocating responsibilities and making logistical changes that improve the commission's ability to function.”
“Transfer the implementation and enforcement of the following CPUC transportation responsibilities to departments within the California State Transportation Agency (e.g., California Department of Motor Vehicles primarily for licensing, registration, evidence of insurance and select investigations and the California Highway Patrol primarily for enforcement and select investigations) through the Governor's Reorganization Plan process.
> Passenger Stage Corporations
> Charter-Party Carriers (including
Transportation Network Companies)
> Household Goods Carriers
> Other carriers subject to CPUC registration requirements (for-hire vessel carriers, commercial air operators, private carriers of passengers and interstate carriers)”
What does this mean? In short, the Governor is attempting to save the CPUC from legislation, most importantly Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 11, which would have called for the dissolution of the Agency. The actions listed above create hardships and challenges for long regulated industries that have not been a part of the problem that legislative actions were attempting to address.
Is it happening tomorrow? No, at this time we have no date for implementation. At least one in government, who we deem to be a reliable source, suggests we are looking at March of 2017 before any action can be taken, but even they cannot be certain. This same source believes that it may not be a complete move with some aspects of regulation even remaining with CPUC.
The Association has a long history of supporting industry regulation. Believing an agreed set of Standards and Measurement is of benefit to both consumers and industry. This philosophy has been affirmed by the CMSA Board of Directors and remains one of our core values.
This issue will be a primary focus of our Association and we will work for the best possible outcome for our membership, the industry at large, and the moving public. Our first step will be to attempt to impact the Governor’s Reorganization Plan, which will hopefully lay out a more detailed plan for any transition. Once developed, this plan will be the framework for the legislation required to facilitate any change.
CMSA’s team, including our legislative advocate Chuck Cole, president of Advocation Inc., CMSA legal counsel Mark Hegarty of Hegarty Law and CMSA staff are already addressing this issue. Note, while not expecting this issue to escalate so quickly, we have been contemplating this as a possibility since before our Legislative Day early in the year. With guidance from the board and the assistance of many of you, we will have a positive impact on our future.
- CMSA Communicator