The President's Column
By Steve Weitekamp
We just completed our first Industry Workshop with the Bureau of Household Goods and Services (BHGS). We were informed that the focus of the meeting was Household Movers Regulation with a concentration on enforcement regulations, an upcoming fee study, and household mover definitions. We were pleased to have about 15 movers and eight BHGS staff in the room and several other movers on the phone participating in the discussion. BHGS Policy Manager Yeaphana La Marr started the discussion with a brief description of how state agencies (other than the California Public Utilities Commission) enact regulatory changes. While we have only heard positive comments from CMSA members about the Bureau answering phones and providing assistance with regulatory issues (wow, their predecessors really set a low bar), I will tell you that regarding regulatory change, the wheels of the bureaucracy of the state turn very slowly. Understand that this is a sword that cuts both ways, but tariff changes that would benefit consumers, regulated industry and state tax payers (even if regulators are in agreement) will still take a considerable amount of time.
We were informed at this meeting that the focus of the Bureau’s first regulatory submission, a process that according to their timeline would in the best case take a minimum of a year, would focus on enforcement issues. They stated that they are currently looking at issues that give them the opportunity for more administrative authority. We stressed that these changes should focus on unlicensed operators, those who are doing damage to consumers, regulated industry and the California taxpayer. The regulators nodded in agreement. Their proposed changes were not shared with us. Our first opportunity to review, comment, and/or protest, will probably be in the fall during a 45-day public comment period.
While we agree that this is extremely important, we are disappointed that they were not at the same time willing to address tariff modifications (included in my January 2019 column). Changes that we have laid out to the Bureau as being important to the health of the industry and not damaging to the moving public. That being said, we remain optimistic that our efforts and engagement with a Bureau, that from the top down agrees that communication with industry is critical to a successful program, will result in an improving environment for regulated industry and moving public.
Another item where this communication has already been helpful is the annual rate adjustment to the MAX4 Tariff. As a result of the transfer some in state government erroneously interpreted the legislative intent to be that no changes to the rules, including annual rate adjustments, could be made outside the regulatory process. As I have laid out in proceeding paragraphs that would have been a huge problem. Thankfully, as a result of our professional relationship with Bureau Chief Nicholas Oliver, we were able to agree that the annual rate increase would continue as before. Chief Oliver was willing to listen to our well-reasoned and documented justification for the process to continue, and then work within the state bureaucracy to make it happen. As a result of our joint efforts, we should see a 4% increase to specified MAX4 rates in the next few days. The Bureau will not mail out changes to the MAX4, but will post on their website. The good news for CMSA members is that you will be notified by us with an email that includes a link to the updated tariff as soon as it becomes available.
- CMSA Communicator