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 ERSCA URGENT Update on Federal Legislation

APTO has teamed up with the Emergency Road Service Coalition of America (ERSCA) to represent towers across the nation in Washington, D.C.  A recently proposed amendment to the Federal Infrastructure Bill (HR 3684) could have devastating impact on the towing industry.   The amendment removes a specific federal protection for towers that threatens to impact profitability, liability and the enterprise value of towing and recovery companies in every state.  To donate to the cause please click here.

The amendment to 49 USC 14501 would effectively broaden the scope of what a state is permitted to regulate (i.e. rates, routes, services).  This would allow states to set up rate-regulated regimes for tows that are both consensual and non-consensual.

AMENDMENT LANGUAGE (as printed in the Congressional Record—Senate)
SA 2470. Ms. SINEMA (for herself and Mr. KAINE) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 2137 proposed by Mr. SCHUMER (for Ms. SINEMA (for herself, Mr. PORTMAN, Mr. MANCHIN, Mr. CASSIDY, Mrs. SHAHEEN, Ms. COLLINS, Mr. TESTER, Ms. MURKOWSKI, Mr. WARNER, and Mr. ROMNEY)) to the bill H.R. 3684, to authorize funds for Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

At the appropriate place in title III of division B, insert the following: SEC. 23lll. FEDERAL AUTHORITY OVER INTRASTATE TRANSPORTATION. Section 14501(c)(2)(C) of title 49, United States Code, is amended by striking ‘‘performed without the prior consent or authorization of the owner or operator of the motor vehicle’’.
For the towing and recovery industry, this means each individual state may regulate all aspects of the towing industry for any type of towing including price (rate regulations), routes, and services (operations regulations).  While the amendment specifically removes protection against states regulating price, routes and service for non-consensual towing operations (i.e. police towing), no other federal protection will remain.  In essence, states can regulate any and all aspects of towing operations for any and all types of towing. 

The threat the industry faces is that organized opponents of the towing industry will pursue new laws and regulations, state-by-state, similar to previous national efforts like “predatory towing”, “consumer protection”, and “price gouging” laws.  In the past, these efforts yielded increased criminal and civil liability, regulated pricing, increased regulations, and never result in favorable outcomes for towing and recovery companies.  Organizations like OOIDA and NCOIL have already created national model legislation with specific emphasis on price regulation for all types of towing including police towing (non-consensual). Without the federal protection currently in place, the industry faces a threat in every state that will impact profitability, liability and the enterprise value of towing and recovery companies.
Take for example the regulatory scheme in Ohio for private property towing.  The elements of the regulation include:

  • Signage requirements
  • Locations requirements of the storage facility (25 miles from the tow, lighting, located near public transportation, etc..)
  • Rate regulation (PUCO now establishes the rate)
  • Allows municipalities to license towing companies
  • Mandatory drop and pay half fee requirement
  • Mandatory photographs and record keeping
  • Time limit to deliver a vehicle to the storage facility
  • Owner/Lienholder notification requirements (police and sheriff assume the responsibility for notifications for non-consensual police tows)
  • Providing vehicles owners notification they can sue towing companies when they retrieve the vehicle
  • Civil actions against towing companies, included removal of CPCN
These are all examples of the types of laws, rules and regulations that could be applied to non-consensual towing if the amendment is passed.  OOIDA and NCOIL have both stated that price regulation is a top priority.  The proposed amendment will give them the ability to pursue “price gouging” and “predatory towing” laws in each state. 

***INDUSTRY ANNOUNCEMENT – LEGISLATIVE UPDATE***
This information is being posted as it was provided by the OTRLC:

HUGE WIN FOR THE OHIO TOWING INDUSTRY!

The OTRLC is happy to share great news with the Ohio towing and recovery industry. House Bill 132, the industry’s legislation to provide Ohio towing and recovery companies and storage facilities with a process to acquire titles to abandoned vehicles ordered into storage by law enforcement and reduce the number of notifications necessary for Private Tow Away Zones – was added to the State Budget (HB 110), and will become law.
 
Following a setback last week that saw the towing language removed from the bill in the Senate, our HB 132 sponsors State Representatives Don Jones and Brett Hillyer put up a tremendous fight to amend our language into the budget bill. Speaker of the House Bob Cupp deserves a tremendous amount of credit for sticking with the industry and pushing for the towing language to be included. We are also very grateful to Senator Frank Hoagland for standing in strong support of the industry and to Senate President Matt Huffman for agreeing to include the towing language in the budget bill. In an additional show of support for the industry, the House of Representatives also voted 93-1 to NOT accept the changes made to HB 132 (removing the towing language) by the Senate, stopping the legislation from advancing.
The towing language was added to HB 110 (State Budget) in a conference committee made up of members of both houses of the legislature. Monday evening, both the House (by a vote of 82-13) and the Senate (by a vote of 32-1) passed HB 110 – INCLUDING ALL OF THE TOWING LANGAGE – and the bill was sent to the Governor for his signature. The Governor signed the bill on June 30, and the towing language will take effect in 90 days.
This is a tremendous victory for the Ohio towing and recovery industry! We are also very thankful to our coalition of supporters for sticking with us throughout the process, including: The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, The Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, The Ohio State Highway Patrol, The Ohio Clerks of Court Association, and The Ohio Automobile Dealers Association.
The OTRLC will continue to update the industry with details about the new title process, but a few key components of the new law are as follows:
Reduces the number of notifications to vehicle owners/lienholders from 3 to 2 for Private Tow-Away Zone tows. The first notification remains within 5 business days after the BMV provides owner and lienholder information. The second notification is required if the vehicle remains unclaimed for 30 days after the first notice was sent.
Establishes a process for a towing service or storage facility to obtain a certificate of title to vehicles ordered into storage by law enforcement in accordance with Ohio Revised Code Sections: 4513.60 (Vehicles left on private residential or private agricultural property), 4513.61 (Storing vehicles in possession of law enforcement officers or left on public property), and 4513.66 (Removal of highway obstruction).
Requires the BMV to establish an affidavit to be used by the towing service or storage facility not later than 90 days after the effective date of the new law.
Allows a motor vehicle dealer or repair facility that is in possession of a motor vehicle to cause the removal of the vehicle by a towing service if certain conditions are met and it provides a method for the towing service to obtain a certificate of title to the vehicle if it is abandoned.
Congratulations again to the Ohio towing and recovery industry on a huge legislative victory! The OTRLC will continue updating the industry with specific and detailed information about the new law before it takes effect so the industry is prepared to utilize these new tools. This success is due in large part to the united front of the OTRLC showing one strong voice to the legislature, on behalf of the entire Ohio towing and recovery industry, and sticking together through another long and difficult legislative process. We look forward to the implementation of the new law and will continue to update the industry as we progress.
News Source: OTRLC (Ohio Towing & Recovery Legislative Committee); Press Released prepared by Joe Hollabaugh of Schumaker and posted in it’s entirety.

The below additional information is provided to our membership: 

To view the version as it was enrolled, passed and signed by the Govoner, please follow THIS LINK. 

The Towing language is on pages 1390-1398 and will become law 90-days from now, in the beginning of October.

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APTO is an association for Ohio towing and recovery professionals dedicated to furthering safety and professionalism in the Ohio Towing Industry. We pride ourselves on being the strongest, largest, and most respected Towing & Recovery Industry trade association in the State of Ohio.

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URGENT Federal Legislative Update

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