State crackdown on HHG brokers proposedBy Eric Anders • May 1st, 2012 • Category: *RELOCATION NEWS UPDATES*, Consumer Protection, MovingScams
A new bill (AB 2118) introduced to the California State Assembly by member Betsy Butler would prohibit “a household goods carrier from engaging, or attempting to engage, in the business of the transportation of used household goods and personal effects, by motor vehicle over any public highway in the state, including advertising, soliciting, offering, or entering into an agreement, without a permit issued by the [Public Utilities] commission authorizing transportation entirely within the state, or a valid operating authority issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), for interstate transportation.”
Under existing law, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has regulatory authority over public utilities, including transportation companies.
Under the existing law, the Household Goods Carriers Act, household goods carriers are subject to the jurisdiction and control of the CPUC.
"The act prohibits a household goods carrier from engaging, or attempting to engage, in the business of the transportation of used household goods and personal effects, by motor vehicle over any public highway in the state, including advertising, soliciting, offering, or entering into an agreement, without a permit issued by the commission authorizing transportation entirely within the state, or a valid operating authority issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, for interstate transportation."
"The act declares that it is not to be construed as a regulation of interstate or foreign commerce, except as permitted under the United States Constitution and the acts of Congress."
As introduced, this bill would additionally "prohibit a household goods carrier from arranging as a broker, as defined, for the transportation of used household goods and personal effects. This bill would permit the commission to order an Internet Web site provider or the source of a posting on the Internet Web site offering service requiring a license to order that the provider or the source of the listing remove the Internet Web site or listing offering unlicensed service, as prescribed."
Butler's bill would require "a household goods carrier with an Internet Web site to add a link to that site that directs consumers to an Internet Web site hosted by the commission that promotes consumer rights and protection."
Existing California laws require telephone companies and related entities, as specified, upon demand and the order of a magistrate, to provide the CPUC, or an authorized official of the commission, access to the name and address of the subscriber to a telephone number being use by an unlicensed household goods carrier. Additionally, the current law prescribes the circumstances under which telephone corporations may release information regarding residential subscribers without their written consent.
As proposed, this bill would require telephone companies, as prescribed, to provide this access to the commission as specified above, without the written consent of the subscriber.
Under the act, "every household goods carrier and every officer, director, agent, or employee of any household goods carrier who violates or who fails to comply with, or who procures, aids, or abets any violation by any household goods carrier of the act, or who fails to obey, observe, or comply with any order, decision, rule, regulation, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission, or of any operating permit issued to any household goods carrier, or who procures, aids, or abets any household goods carrier in its failure to obey, observe, or comply with any such order, decision, rule, regulation, direction, demand, requirement, or operating permit, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and if the violation is not willful, is punishable by fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment in the county jail as prescribed, or both."
This bill would provide that the fine for this misdemeanor "is instead not more than $5,000 and would also provide that a household goods carrier that falsifies licensure, membership in an association, or location is liable for a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 per day of violation."
Under this proposal, many small, independent interstate movers licensed by the FMCSA whose businesses are based in California would be prohibited from brokering customers personal property to other household carriers in intrastate commerce.
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Documents Associated with Bill # AB 2118 – California State Assembly
California cracks down on more illegal movers (2012) – RELO Roundtable
California cracks down on more illegal movers (2011) – RELO Roundtable
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