Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

04/08/2010 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 251(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 24(MLV) Out of Committee
          HB 251-VEHICLE LIENS/TOWING/STORAGE/TRANSPORT                                                                     
9:48:26 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD announced  the next order of business  to come before                                                              
the committee  would be HB  251. [CSHB 251(JUD),  26-LS0786\S, was                                                              
before the committee.]                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  JAY RAMRAS, sponsor  of HB 251,  said the  bill is                                                              
helpful  to both tow  truck operators  and to  consumers who  have                                                              
had a  vehicle impounded. A  tow truck operator  incurs a  fee for                                                              
towing  and storage  of an impounded  vehicle.  The bank can  then                                                              
recover  the vehicle,  leaving  the tow  truck  company without  a                                                              
means to  recover their costs because  they stand behind  the lien                                                              
holder  or lender. HB  251 also  states that  tow truck  companies                                                              
must  notify consumers  that their  vehicles  have been  impounded                                                              
within five days.  Currently, up to 60 days elapse  while the fees                                                              
add up,  leaving the consumer  stunned by  the amount owed  to the                                                              
impound yard.                                                                                                                   
Section 1 of HB  251 [amending AS 28.10.391(a)] is  helpful to the                                                              
tow  truck operators  and  Section  2 [amending  AS  28.10.502(b)]                                                              
requires  the tow  truck  company  to notify  the  owner and  lien                                                              
holder of  the towing,  transporting and storage  of a  vehicle by                                                              
certified letter. This is a consumer protection.                                                                                
9:51:09 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD asked if other states have similar rules.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  said he does not know. He  noted that state                                                              
troopers  or local municipalities  will keep  different tow  truck                                                              
companies on a rotation index to call to an accident or DUI.                                                                    
SENATOR  KOOKESH  said  HB  251  looks  clear  and  asked  if  any                                                              
objection exists.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  replied  that  Representative  Fairclough,                                                              
who previously  served as the  presiding officer of  the Anchorage                                                              
municipal  assembly,  had  consumers   complain  about  fees  that                                                              
accrue while a vehicle  is in an impound yard. Some  people do not                                                              
pay attention  or cannot afford  to get  their vehicle out  of the                                                              
impound yard.  He told  Representative Fairclough  that HB  251 is                                                              
proactively improving  existing statutes by requiring  a certified                                                              
letter  from  the  tow  truck company  within  five  days  of  the                                                              
DON HABBIGER, aide  to Representative Ramras, clarified  that five                                                              
days was  changed to seven  days in committee  on the  house side.                                                              
Tow truck  companies sometimes  have to go  out of state  to local                                                              
DMV's and five days was a bit tight.                                                                                            
SENATOR PASKVAN clarified that it is seven working days.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  said Bill Satterberg,  attorney, previously                                                              
testified and suggested  that seven days, not  including weekends,                                                              
amounts to about ten days.                                                                                                      
9:55:34 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH   said  some  towing  charges  in   Anchorage  are                                                              
outrageous.  While people who  perform the  work should  get paid,                                                              
there could  be an  opportunity to  address "predatory  practices"                                                              
in the future.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  said HB  251  focuses on  notification  so                                                              
that consumers  know where  their vehicles are  and how  long they                                                              
have  been there.  Tow  truck operators  will  tell  you they  are                                                              
struggling as small businesses to make ends meet.                                                                               
SENATOR PASKVAN  asked how a consumer  finds out what  happened or                                                              
where an  impounded car is. He  asked how a proactive  owner finds                                                              
out about his or her car.                                                                                                       
9:58:39 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS said  he cannot  answer  that question.  He                                                              
noted  he  would   welcome  a  conceptual  amendment   to  improve                                                              
consumer protection in that regard.                                                                                             
SHAWN HESS, S&S  Towing and Recovery, Fairbanks,  said he supports                                                              
HB  251. He  noted that  his  company calls  plate  numbers in  to                                                              
local law enforcement  when the impound request did  not come from                                                              
law enforcement.  The owner can  call the local police  department                                                              
and find out which company has the vehicle.                                                                                     
10:01:04 AM                                                                                                                   
MARK DAVIS, owner,  Interior Towing and Salvage Inc.,  said he has                                                              
to do many  things when impounding  a car not at the  direction of                                                              
a police  officer. HB 251  corrects a problem  so that  the towing                                                              
company can get  paid; the lending institution cannot  walk in and                                                              
take the car without  paying any kind of a bill. He  said he is in                                                              
full support of HB 251.                                                                                                         
MARGARET  RABY, Alaska Towing  Association,  said most members  of                                                              
the  Towing Association  are in  full support  of HB  251. HB  251                                                              
fixes  a  problem  whereby  towers   may  perform  their  services                                                              
without  getting  paid.  Most members  also  support  the  section                                                              
about  notification  because that  does  eliminate  what could  be                                                              
considered predatory  towing. Legitimate towers want  to make sure                                                              
that owners get their vehicles back.                                                                                            
SENATOR  PASKVAN asked  if  the Alaska  Towing  Association has  a                                                              
policy that plate numbers be called in upon towing.                                                                             
MS. RABY  said Alaska Towing Association  does not set  policy but                                                              
that  practice  is generally  regulated  by  municipalities.  Both                                                              
Anchorage and Fairbanks  municipal code require any  towing within                                                              
city  limits  to  be  called  in.   Most  towers,  and  the  state                                                              
troopers, consider  it standard operating  procedure though  it is                                                              
not  required.  If  a  tower  does   not  call  in  a  plate,  law                                                              
enforcement  generally  gets involved  and  suggests  the tow  was                                                              
10:04:14 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  PASKVAN  suggested  that   adopting  a  consumer-friendly                                                              
policy, such as  providing notice promptly, would  keep government                                                              
off the industry's back.                                                                                                        
MS.  RABY  said  the Alaska  Towing  Association  is  a  fledgling                                                              
association and is growing to that point.                                                                                       
ELIZABETH  GRISWOLD,  owner,  Gabe's  Towing, said  she  and  Mark                                                              
Davis  brought this  problem to  the  attention of  Representative                                                              
Ramras to get the  loophole in the statutes fixed.  A credit union                                                              
found  the  loophole;  they  have  the  perfected  lien  over  the                                                              
possessory lien.  She summarized an  incident in which  the credit                                                              
union took  possession  of a vehicle  without  paying for the  tow                                                              
bill. She  noted that  her company  and others  are on  the towing                                                              
ordinance committee  and must follow  local ordinances and  can be                                                              
audited at any time.                                                                                                            
10:07:23 AM                                                                                                                   
She  pointed out  that Alaska  does  not have  a stipulation  that                                                              
some  other states  have: if  a tow bill  is not  paid, it  counts                                                              
against one's driver's license.                                                                                                 
JEFF VANEYCH,  Dirty Deeds  Towing and  Recovery, Fairbanks,  said                                                              
he supports  HB 251.  He just wants  to get paid  for the  work he                                                              
does. Once  the bank  comes in and  takes the  vehicle, he  has no                                                              
way to recoup his costs.                                                                                                        
10:08:46 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR MENARD closed public testimony.                                                                                           
SENATOR  MEYER  moved  to  report  HB  251,  from  committee  with                                                              
individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                       
CHAIR MENARD announced  that without objection CSHB 251(JUD) moved                                                              
from Senate State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects