Bill Text

PDF |Add To My Favorites | print page

AB-2603 Public Utilities Commission: Passenger Charter-party Carriers’ Act: complaint registration and resolution mechanism.(2015-2016)

SHARE THIS:share this bill in Facebookshare this bill in Twitter
AB2603:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 11, 2016

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2015–2016 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 2603


Introduced by Assembly Member Nazarian

February 19, 2016


An act to amend Sections 1801.3 and 1802 of, and to add Section 1809 to, add Section 5388 to the Public Utilities Code, relating to proceedings of the Public Utilities Commission.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2603, as amended, Nazarian. Public Utilities Commission: proceedings: intervenor compensation. Passenger Charter-party Carriers’ Act: complaint registration and resolution mechanism.
Charter-party carriers of passengers, including transportation network companies, are subject to the jurisdiction and control of the Public Utilities Commission under the Passenger Charter-party Carriers’ Act.
This bill would require the commission to establish a telephone communications service, with a designated telephone number, that would be available to members of the public to communicate to the commission any concerns, or register complaints, regarding service provided by charter-party carriers of passengers, including transportation network companies. The bill would require each charter-party carrier of passengers to include the telephone number designated by the commission on all contracts for service made after January 1, 2018, and for a transportation network company or other charter-party carrier of passengers that arranges for transportation utilizing application software, commonly termed an app, the bill would require that the customer be notified of the existence of, and purpose for, the telephone number as part of the electronic transaction. The bill would require the commission to maintain a record of all concerns and complaints communicated to the commission and to establish rules or guidelines as to what concerns and complaints do or do not raise matters of serious concern. As to those concerns and complaints that do not raise a matter of serious concern, the commission staff would be required to diligently attempt to informally resolve the concern or complaint. The bill would require the commission to investigate each concern or complaint that raises a matter of serious concern and initiate and conclude appropriate enforcement action with respect to any violation of the act or a rule adopted by the commission pursuant to the act.
Under existing law, a violation of the Passenger Charter-party Carriers’ Act or an order or direction of the commission pursuant to the act is a crime.
Because the provisions of this bill are within the act and require action by the commission to implement its requirements, a violation of these provisions would impose a state-mandated local program by creating a new crime.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has broad regulatory authority pursuant to the California Constitution and the Public Utilities Act over public utilities, as defined, including common carriers, toll bridge corporations, electrical corporations, gas corporations, pipeline corporations, telephone corporations, telegraph corporations, water corporations, sewer system corporations, and heat corporations. In addition, the commission has more limited authority over certain other corporations, including charter-party carriers of passengers. Existing law provides compensation for reasonable advocate’s fees, reasonable expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs to public utility customers and representatives of customers for participation or intervention in formal proceedings of the commission involving electrical, gas, water, telegraph, and telephone public utilities.

This bill would additionally authorize compensation to be awarded by the commission for reasonable advocate’s fees, reasonable expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs to customers and representatives of customers for participation or intervention in formal proceedings of the commission involving a corporation that is subject to regulation by the commission pursuant to the Passenger Charter-Party Carriers’ Act.

Existing law requires the commission to deny compensation to any customer who attempts to delay or obstruct the orderly and timely fulfillment of the commission’s responsibilities.

This bill would require the commission to deny any claim for compensation for contributions to a closed proceeding unless otherwise specified.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NOYES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 5388 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

5388.
 (a) The commission shall establish a telephone communications service that is available to members of the public to communicate to the commission any concerns, or register complaints, regarding service provided by charter-party carriers of passengers, including transportation network companies. The commission shall designate a telephone number for members of the public to dial to communicate their concerns or complaints. The commission shall require each charter-party carrier of passengers to include the telephone number designated by the commission on all contracts for service made after January 1, 2018. For a transportation network company or other charter-party carrier of passengers that arrange for transportation utilizing application software, commonly termed an app, the commission shall require that the customer be notified of the existence of, and purpose for, the telephone number as part of the electronic transaction. The commission may maintain additional, alternative means for members of the public to express concerns or register complaints.
(b) The commission shall maintain a record of all concerns and complaints communicated to the commission relative to charter-party carriers of passengers, including transportation network companies. The commission shall establish rules or guidelines as to what concerns and complaints do or do not raise matters of serious concern. As to those concerns and complaints that do not raise a matter of serious concern, the commission staff shall diligently attempt to informally resolve the concern or complaint and shall maintain a record of whether the concern or complaint was resolved. The commission shall investigate each concern or complaint made to the commission that raises a matter of serious concern and initiate and conclude appropriate enforcement action with respect to any violation of this act or a rule adopted by the commission pursuant to this act. The commission shall maintain a record of all concerns and complaints that result in an investigation, a description of the investigation conducted by the commission, and the result of the investigation.

SEC. 2.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.
SECTION 1.Section 1801.3 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:
1801.3.

It is the intent of the Legislature that:

(a)The provisions of this article shall apply to all formal proceedings of the commission involving electrical, gas, water, telegraph, and telephone corporations and to corporations that are subject to regulation by the commission pursuant to Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 5351) of Division 2.

(b)The provisions of this article shall be administered in a manner that encourages the effective and efficient participation of all groups that have a stake in the public utility regulation process.

(c)The process for finding eligibility for intervenor compensation be streamlined, by simplifying the preliminary showing by an intervenor of issues, budget, and costs.

(d)Intervenors be compensated for making a substantial contribution to proceedings of the commission, as determined by the commission in its orders and decisions.

(e)Intervenor compensation be awarded to eligible intervenors in a timely manner, within a reasonable period after the intervenor has made the substantial contribution to a proceeding that is the basis for the compensation award.

(f)This article shall be administered in a manner that avoids unproductive or unnecessary participation that duplicates the participation of similar interests otherwise adequately represented or participation that is not necessary for a fair determination of the proceeding.

SEC. 2.Section 1802 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:
1802.

As used in this article:

(a)“Compensation” means payment for all or part, as determined by the commission, of reasonable advocate’s fees, reasonable expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs of preparation for and participation in a proceeding, and includes the fees and costs of obtaining an award under this article and of obtaining judicial review, if any.

(b)(1)“Customer” means any of the following:

(A)A participant representing consumers, customers, or subscribers of any electrical, gas, telephone, telegraph, or water corporation or representing consumers, customers, or passengers of any corporation subject to regulation by the commission pursuant to Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 5351) of Division 2.

(B)A representative who has been authorized by a customer.

(C)A representative of a group or organization authorized pursuant to its articles of incorporation or bylaws to represent the interests of residential customers, or to represent small commercial customers who receive bundled electric service from an electrical corporation.

(2)“Customer” does not include any state, federal, or local government agency, any publicly owned public utility, or any entity that, in the commission’s opinion, was established or formed by a local government entity for the purpose of participating in a commission proceeding.

(c)“Expert witness fees” means recorded or billed costs incurred by a customer for an expert witness.

(d)“Other reasonable costs” means reasonable out-of-pocket expenses directly incurred by a customer that are directly related to the contentions or recommendations made by the customer that resulted in a substantial contribution.

(e)“Party” means any interested party, respondent public utility, or commission staff in a hearing or proceeding.

(f)“Proceeding” means an application, complaint, or investigation, rulemaking, alternative dispute resolution procedures in lieu of formal proceedings as may be sponsored or endorsed by the commission, or other formal proceeding before the commission.

(g)“Significant financial hardship” means either that the customer cannot afford, without undue hardship, to pay the costs of effective participation, including advocate’s fees, expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs of participation, or that, in the case of a group or organization, the economic interest of the individual members of the group or organization is small in comparison to the costs of effective participation in the proceeding.

(h)“Small commercial customer” means any nonresidential customer with a maximum peak demand of less than 50 kilowatts. The commission may establish rules to modify or change the definition of “small commercial customer,” including use of criteria other than a peak demand threshold, if the commission determines that the modification or change will promote participation in proceedings at the commission by organizations representing small businesses, without incorporating large commercial and industrial customers.

(i)“Substantial contribution” means that, in the judgment of the commission, the customer’s presentation has substantially assisted the commission in the making of its order or decision because the order or decision has adopted in whole or in part one or more factual contentions, legal contentions, or specific policy or procedural recommendations presented by the customer. Where the customer’s participation has resulted in a substantial contribution, even if the decision adopts that customer’s contention or recommendations only in part, the commission may award the customer compensation for all reasonable advocate’s fees, reasonable expert fees, and other reasonable costs incurred by the customer in preparing or presenting that contention or recommendation.

SEC. 3.Section 1809 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:
1809.

The commission shall deny any claim for compensation for contributions to a closed proceeding unless otherwise specified in this article.