The President's Column
By Steve Weitekamp
May began with the Association's 99th Annual Convention in Rancho Mirage. It was a terrific and valuable event enjoyed by all in attendance. The culmination of the convention was the annual installation of officers, where the membership thanked Senior Chairman Bob Fraser for his year of service as Chairman of the Board and welcomed current Chairman John Lance. I know that Chairman Lance is looking forward to visiting members around the state during his 12 chapter visits as well as participating in many other events and obligations. Like his predecessors, Lance is well-prepared, thanks to our existing leadership progression, to address the challenges our industry continues to face. We look forward to continuing the work that is already started and stand ready to address new issues as they arise.
Those who regularly read The Communicator know that one of the largest issues on our plate is Governor Brown's proposed Reorganization Plan, which involves moving all regulated transportation, including household carriers, out from under the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) authority. On the Wednesday after the convention, I received a 5 p.m. call from Governor Brown's office. The deputy secretary wanted to give me a heads up that there would be a conference call the next day at 11:30am to discuss the California State Transportation Agency (CALSTA) budget, and they would discuss their proposal to move regulation of household goods carriers from the CPUC to the Department of Consumer Affairs' (DCA) Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEARHFTI). We had not heard any discussion about DCA or the aforementioned bureau as a potential location for our program. The governor's deputy ended by stating that he and his team would make themselves available to discuss issues and concerns.
CMSA's team, including CMSA Counsel Mark Hegarty and Chuck Cole of Advocation Inc., worked with the Association to develop a strategy to address the possible transfer from both a legislative and state agency angle. Over the next week, we attended and spoke on behalf of the permitted carriers at both the California Assembly and Senate budget committees, where a trailer bill directed by the governor's office would transfer the majority of the Household Goods Carriers' Act and the MAX 4 tariff from the CPUC to the DCA. (As of the writing of this article, the bill has not been passed by either house.) Interesting to note that the CPUC Executive Director spoke at the legislative committee meetings as well. To paraphrase, he basically stated that the CPUC, over an extended period of time, had not done a great job with the household goods program and that it was time to give another agency a turn at bat.
We requested and received a meeting with the DCA. Three of Governor Brown's deputy secretaries and others (DCA lawyers) participated. The meeting went over our scheduled time, something that I generally view as positive. We walked away with a commitment to form a working group to address issues related to the possible transfer and to develop a program that works for the moving public, legal carriers and the people of California.
There is nothing final to report at this time. Know that CMSA staff, Board of Directors, and the rest of our team are working to ensure the best possible outcome and will advocate for a regulatory scheme that serves the interest of our membership.
- CMSA Communicator