Four Government Issues That Affect California Operators

Posted on February 15, 2017 by - Also by this author - About the author

GCLA operators Brandan Stein, Mo Garkani, Carlos Garcia, Harry Dhillon, and Raphael Sousa attend the group's annual lobbying day at the State Capitol, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017 (photo courtesty of GCLA) 
GCLA operators Brandan Stein, Mo Garkani, Carlos Garcia, Harry Dhillon, and Raphael Sousa attend the group's annual lobbying day at the State Capitol, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017 (photo courtesty of GCLA) 
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Industry leaders played to the strengths of chauffeured service Feb. 8 by focusing on the safety advantages their companies provide to the traveling public, while pushing for TNCs to be required to do the same.

At its annual lobbying day at the State Capitol, about 35-40 operator members of the Greater California Livery Association split up and rotated among 32 appointments with state legislators and attended multiple briefings with consultants and legislative staff.

Arranged by GCLA lobbyist Gregg Cook of Government Affairs Consulting, the lobbying day emphasized three safety-related bills or proposals. The GCLA also is monitoring two key developments on how the state might regulate chauffeured transportation industry in the future.

Related: GCLA video of Day On Hill

The three safety items included:

Background Checks
The GCLA will introduce legislation during this year’s Assembly session to allow providers to use Department of Justice background checks when hiring and vetting chauffeurs and drivers. The measure would likely add more pressure on transportation network companies (TNCs) to do the same. DOJ fingerprint background checks are far more thorough and accurate than standard ones used now. They extend outside the state of California and look back further than seven years into a driver’s history.

“The TNCs have been unresponsive to rapes, assaults, thefts, and DUIs,” GCLA President David Kinney (API Global) said. “We assume there will be more. The concept here is achieving parity; if regulations apply to us, they need to apply to them.”

In a prepared GCLA summary, Kinney added, the background checks will "ensure that our chauffeurs are adequately screened and our drivers are of the highest quality. . . These background checks will be voluntary and will help keep the public safe."

Seat Belts
The trade group urges operators and legislators to support the Bus Safety Bill, also known as SB20, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo. The bill requires transportation providers to mandate passengers use seat belts while riding in fleet vehicles. This bill aims to reduce possible injuries and insurance costs.

“We’re taking added steps so customers are safe,” Kinney said. “If any vehicle is equipped with seatbelts, the [chauffeur or driver] must tell people to use them. It doesn’t hurt operations or increase liability. It’s expected to cut down on injuries to passengers.”

Duty Of Care Issues
As a staple of chauffeured service, duty of care involved the front to end umbrella of safety for clients that spans background checks, driver training, insurance and liability coverages, and reliable custodial practices. “We are asking the legislature does more to protect the riding public from unsafe, un-inspected, and unsupervised TNC providers,” Kinney wrote. “TNC drivers serve customer demand in the marketplace but they also continue to rape, harass, assault, and injure the riding public.”

The GCLA participants circulated a list of 27 criminal and/or safety incidents statewide reported in the news media, including accidents, assaults, drug possession, and kidnappings.

“We have a list of at least 27 people who have been harmed, but very few safety measures have been put in place to assure the rideshare public is being protected,” Kinney said. “If this many issues were happening in our industry, you would see a flood of legislation to protect the public. But nothing is happening here. You have to ask yourself, would this [duty of care] keep the public safe when using commercial transportation?”

GCLA members gather in a committee hearing room at the State Capitol in Sacramento (photo courtesy of GCLA)
GCLA members gather in a committee hearing room at the State Capitol in Sacramento (photo courtesy of GCLA)
Two other regulatory issues the GCLA will be tracking this year:

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a regulatory redesign that would transfer oversight of charter party commercial ground transportation from the California Public Utilities Commission to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Highway Patrol. Although that would mean two agencies regulating limousine service instead of one, Kinney at this point is open to the idea given that operators have been complaining for years about the lack of enforcement against illegal operators, low staffing, antiquated processes, lack of online resources, and unresponsive customer service at the CPUC.

“It would be a huge shift in terms of enforcement and challenges the CPUC has,” Kinney told LCT. “They just don’t have the resources to adequately supervise our industry. We’re still exploring the idea. We haven’t taken a formal position on it and are getting more information.”

The Governor still must devise a proposal and run it through the legislative process.

As part of any proposed Governor’s Reorganization Plan, the GCLA also is weighing a consultant report from the Crowe Howarth firm that analyzed the enforcement division of the CPUC as it relates to limousine and livery vehicles. The 118-page report, requested by a legislator, identifies “systemic issues” within the division related to a lack of funding, enforcement, and adequate computer systems, Kinney said. “The CPUC is trying to figure out if it will implement the report or wait to see what happens with the Governor and the GRP.”


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