E-Communicator Article

The President's Column

By Steve Weitekamp
January 2017


Happy New Year! As we begin a new year, it is appropriate to look both back and forward to assess what worked and what didn't and to hopefully start the annual cycle with a renewed optimism.

January will see two very high-profile household moves and, as with any move, we can expect changes. On January 20, one first family will move out of the White House and another will move in. Moving is always a time of change; in this case, the changes will be on a national scale and we expect them to be significant.

Political change and policy change is coming to the country, but California sees it different. Our state Legislature now has a Democratic super-majority and our Democratic governor is in firm control. The bureaucratic agencies that we must engage with - California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California State Transportation Agency (CALSTA), California Air Resources Board (CARB), Employment Development Department (EDD), Department of General Services (DGS) and others - will be impacted and, in some cases, emboldened by this political climate. Whether this is to your liking or not, it is the current reality in which we must operate and therefore we will need to plot our course accordingly.

For example, please read this issue's article on the 20-cent tax on fuel to pay for infrastructure improvements - pay close attention to who is speaking as infrastructure means different things to different people. If you're like me, it means roads, bridges and tunnels. But to many in government, it means bike lanes, medians and the occasional roundabout. The strategy is to make personal car and, by extension, truck travel so unpleasant that we will approve any bond and pay any price to develop mass transit and surrender our autos.

In my June 2016 column, I reviewed activities of the CPUC and their intent to increase household good carriers' fees. The agency's position remains the same: the Transportation Rate Fund (TRF) does not have the financial resources to fund their activities. My position is that their financial issue is a result of their own actions, accounting issues that resulted in a one-time clawback of a large percentage of the fund, and inaction by failing to stop the increasing percentage of moves performed by illegal operators. My understanding is that the CPUC is hard-pressed to understand why revenue (carrier fees) continues to decline. They see a relatively stable, based upon the last numbers we were provided, number of carriers and an improving economy, so why are carrier fees continuing to decline? What gives?

Well, from years of visits to and conversations with carriers -an approach that, to the best of my knowledge, a state regulator hasn't even contemplated - it appears that more than a few carriers have decided that doing CPUC regulated work is not for them, based upon the environment that currently exists. This group of carriers believes that in an environment where illegal operators compete openly, they will look for other opportunities. These moving opportunities include but are not limited to: interstate, international, office and industrial, and record storage and warehousing. These are areas of business that CMSA provides support but generally fall outside the scope of CPUC regulation.

To learn more about current and pending regulation as well as alternative moving opportunities, I encourage you to join us for the 2017 convention in Rancho Mirage. Register today!

January 2017 - CMSA Communicator

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