Vehicle Towing and Booting - Proposed Amendments to Administrative Rules

Chapter 86. Vehicle Towing and Booting

Proposal Filed: April 23, 2018 – Published in the Texas Register: May 4, 2018
Deadline for Public Comment: June 4, 2018

Underlined text is new language.

[ Strikethrough text ] is deleted language.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (Department) proposes amendments to an existing rule at 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 86, §86.705; and proposes the repeal of existing §86.213, regarding the Vehicle Towing and Booting program.

JUSTIFICATION AND EXPLANATION OF THE RULES

The proposed rules implement changes from Senate Bill 1501 and Senate Bill 2065, 85th Legislature, Regular Session (2017), for the Vehicle Towing and Booting program. Collectively, these bills eliminate the towing operator training license and establish standards of conduct for tow operators engaging in the non-consent relocation of vehicles from one area on a parking facility to another area on the same parking facility. The proposed rules are necessary to implement Senate Bill 1501 and Senate Bill 2065.

SECTION-BY-SECTION SUMMARY

The proposed amendments to §86.705 create rules to establish standards of conduct necessary for a towing operator to engage in a non-consent relocation of vehicles from one area on a parking facility to another area on the same parking facility. It also establishes signage requirements necessary to provide vehicle operators with proper notice of the relocation date and time. Additionally, the signage helps minimize confusion over why a vehicle is relocated and provides details of where vehicles are relocated.

The proposed repeal of current §86.213 removes the towing operator training license from rules consistent with SB 1501.

FISCAL IMPACT ON STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Brian E. Francis, Executive Director, has determined that for each year of the first five years the proposed rules are in effect, there are no estimated additional costs or reductions in costs to state or local government as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed rules.

Mr. Francis has determined that for each year of the first five years after the proposed repeal of current §86.213, the state will have a $650 per year revenue loss from the average of 26 people who obtained this type of license each year. There are currently 12 people with an active tow training license. Mr. Francis has also determined the deregulation of the tow training license will not result in increased revenue because the application fees are eliminated.

Mr. Francis has determined that for each year of the first five years after the proposed amendments to §86.705, the relocation of vehicles will not result in tow operators or companies paying more or less fees to the state. The relocation of vehicles does not have a fee attached to it, nor do the proposed rules eliminate any existing fees. Therefore, there is no increase or decrease in revenue to state or local government because of the proposed rules.

LOCAL EMPLOYMENT IMPACT STATEMENT

Mr. Francis has determined that the proposed rules will not affect the local economy because local governments are not involved in the relocation of vehicles from one area of a parking facility to another area on the same parking facility. Local governments are also not involved in the issuance of tow training licenses.

Because Mr. Francis has determined that there is no local employment impact, the agency is not required to prepare a local employment impact statement under Government Code §2001.022.

PUBLIC BENEFITS

Mr. Francis has determined that for each year of the first five-year period following the proposed repeal of current §86.213, the public benefit for the elimination of the tow training license is to streamline the licensing process and to ensure that tow operators are fully licensed at the earliest possible date.

Mr. Francis has also determined that for each year of the first five-year period the proposed amendments to §86.705 are in effect, the public benefit is to provide adequate notice for consumers in instances where a parking facility must conduct a non-consent relocation of vehicles from one area of a parking facility to another area on the same parking facility. The rules also provide full transparency regarding the conduct that tow operators are expected to adhere to when engaging in these types of tows.

Additionally, the ability to relocate vehicles within a parking facility allows vehicle operators to avoid towing and storage costs otherwise imposed when a vehicle is towed from a parking facility and stored at a vehicle storage facility, as well as eliminates the time that an owner must spend retrieving a vehicle after a tow. Any costs incurred for the relocation of vehicles from one area of a parking facility to another area is paid by the parking facility owner.

PROBABLE ECONOMIC COSTS TO PERSONS REQUIRED TO COMPLY WITH PROPOSAL

Mr. Francis has determined that for each year of the first five-year period following the proposed repeal of current §86.213, there are no economic costs for persons required to comply with the proposal. Tow operators will simply obtain full licensure instead of opting to apply for a tow training license.

Mr. Francis has also determined that for each year of the first five-year period following the proposed amendments to §86.705 are in effect, there could be marginal costs imposed upon tow operators engaging in non-consent relocations of vehicles from one area of a parking facility to another area of the same parking facility. The costs relate to signage that is required at parking facilities in order to provide notice of the date, time, and areas of relocation where vehicles are moved. The costs associated with creating these signs is marginal and will likely be a one-time cost given that signs may be reused and there are a variety of materials to choose from.

Tow operators may also opt to request that parking facility owners pay for the required signs prior to engaging in an agreement with a parking facility to relocate vehicles from one area of a parking facility to another area. In these instances, there is no resulting cost to tow operators for the required signage.

FISCAL IMPACT ON SMALL BUSINESSES, MICRO-BUSINESSES, AND RURAL COMMUNITIES

There may be a minimal, but not adverse, effect on small businesses or micro-businesses, but not on rural communities because of the proposed rules.

The proposed amendments to §86.705 will have marginal costs for signage imposed on tow operators or parking facility owners; many of whom are micro or small businesses. The Department is unable to estimate the number of small business subject to the proposed rule since it is unpredictable how often vehicle relocations may occur or what circumstances may necessitate these types of tows.

However, the signage requirements are generic and should pose a one-time, minimal cost for either entity. The proposed rules allow tow operators or parking facility owners to choose from a variety of materials out of which to construct their signs. This provides flexibility in material choice with price likely being a primary consideration for business owners.

Additionally, although the cost of relocating vehicles from one area of a parking facility to another is paid by a parking facility owner, these types of non-consent tows would likely affect a small number of vehicles at any given time.

Any costs of relocation would also be offset by the elimination of overage costs incurred by a parking facility when it is unable to complete facility projects because of the presence of vehicles in the affected area.

Since the agency has determined that the proposed rule may have minimal, but not adverse, economic effect on small businesses or micro-businesses, but not on rural communities, preparation of an Economic Impact Statement and a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, as detailed under Texas Government Code §2006.002, is not required.

ONE-FOR-ONE REQUIREMENT FOR RULES WITH A FISCAL IMPACT

Under Government Code §2001.0045, a state agency may not adopt a proposed rule if the fiscal note states that the rule imposes a cost on regulated persons, including another state agency, a special district, or a local government, unless the state agency: (a) repeals a rule that imposes a total cost on regulated persons that is equal to or greater than the total cost imposed on regulated persons by the proposed rule; or (b) amends a rule to decrease the total cost imposed on regulated persons by an amount that is equal to or greater than the cost imposed on the persons by the proposed rule. There are exceptions for certain types of rules under §2001.0045(c).

The proposed rules do not have a fiscal note that imposes a cost on regulated persons, including another state agency, a special district, or a local government. Therefore, the agency is not required to take any further action under Government Code §2001.0045.

GOVERNMENT GROWTH IMPACT STATEMENT

Pursuant to Government Code §2001.0221, the agency provides the following Government Growth Impact Statement for the proposed rules. For each year of the first five years the rules will be in effect, the agency has determined the following:

(1) The proposed rules do not create or eliminate a government program because the towing industry is already regulated by the State.

(2) Implementation of the proposed rules does not require either the creation of new employee positions or the elimination of existing employee positions. The reduction in workload created by repealing §86.213 is minimal given the small number of licensees in any given year. The average number of licensees is 26. There are currently 12 tow training licensees as of April 19, 2018. Any increased workload resulting from enforcement of the proposed amendments to §86.705 will be handled by existing employees.

(3) Implementation of the proposed rule does not require an increase or decrease in future legislative appropriations to the agency because neither the repeal of §86.213 or the amendments to §86.705 involve legislative appropriations.

(4) The proposed repeal of §86.213 does require a decrease in fees paid to the agency. The repeal of the tow training license will amount to a loss of $650 per year from license fees. There are an average of 26 people who obtain the license each year.

The proposed amendments to §86.705 do not require a decrease in fees paid to the agency because the relocation of vehicles does not involve any fees on the state level.

(5) The proposed rules in §86.705 do create new regulations related to the relocation of vehicles from one area of a parking facility to another area of the same parking facility. These regulations ensure that consumers are aware of the time, date, and areas of relocation 72 hours prior to vehicles being moved. The creation of these rules is legislatively mandated by Senate Bill 1501 and Senate Bill 2065, 85th Legislature, Regular Session (2017).

(6) The proposed repeal of §86.213 does eliminate an existing regulation related to the existence of a tow training license.

The proposed amendments to §86.705 do create existing regulations related to non-consent vehicle relocations. The creation of these regulations is mandated by Senate Bill 1501 and Senate Bill 2065, 85th Legislature, Regular Session (2017).

(7) The proposed repeal of §86.213 does decrease the number of individuals subject to the rule's applicability because the state will no longer issue tow training license.

The proposed amendments to §86.705 do not increase or decrease the number of individuals subject to the rule’s applicability because the amendments are additions to towing rules already imposed upon tow operators and companies.

(8) The proposed rules do not positively or adversely affect this state's economy. The proposed repeal of §86.213 and the amendments to §86.705 have a neutral impact.

PUBLIC COMMENTS

Comments on the proposal may be submitted by mail to Ana Villarreal, Legal Assistant, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, P.O. Box 12157, Austin, Texas 78711; or by facsimile to (512) 475-3032, or electronically to erule.comments@tdlr.texas.gov . The deadline for comments is 30 days after publication in the Texas Register.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendments and repeal are proposed under the Texas Occupations Code, Chapters 51 and 2308, which authorize the Commission, the Department’s governing body, to adopt rules as necessary to implement these chapters and any other law establishing a program regulated by the Department.

The statutory provisions affected by the proposal are those set forth in Texas Occupations Code, Chapters 51 and 2308. No other statutes, articles, or codes are affected by the proposal.

§86.705. Responsibilities of Towing Company--Standards of Conduct.

(a) - (m) (No change.)

(n) Relocation from one area of a parking facility to another area on the same parking facility may occur if:

(1) Signs complying with this section are installed on the parking facility a minimum of 72 hours preceding relocation.

(2) Each sign required under this subsection may be temporary and must:

(A) be mounted on a pole, post, wall or freestanding board;

(B) be at least 18 inches wide and 24 inches tall;

(C) be installed so that the bottom edge of the sign is no lower than 6 inches and no higher than 6 feet above ground level.

(3) Each sign required under this subsection must contain:

(A) a red international tow symbol on a white background;

(B) a statement designating the area(s) which is a temporary no parking area and stating that vehicles parked in the designated area will be relocated to another location on the same parking facility; and

(C) the location where vehicles will be relocated, if known, or a telephone number, including area code, that is answered 24 hours a day to identify the location of a relocated vehicle.

(4) Each required sign must face and be conspicuously visible to a driver that enters the area of the parking facility from which vehicles will be relocated;

(5) Each required signs must be located:

( A) on the right or left of each driveway or curb-cut through which a vehicle can enter the area subject to relocation, including an entry from an alley abutting the facility; or

(B) at intervals along the entrance to the area subject to relocation so that no entrance is farther than 25 feet from a sign if:

(i) curbs, access barriers, landscaping, or driveways do not establish definite vehicle entrances onto the area of a parking facility subject to relocation; and

(ii) the width of an entrance to an area of relocation exceeds 35 feet;

(o) Upon request, the parking facility owner or agent must provide the contact information for the tow company responsible for the relocation.

(p) A peace officer is authorized to direct the relocation of a vehicle from one location on a parking facility to another location on the parking facility to further public safety.

[ §86.213. Licensing Requirements--Towing Operator Training License ]

REVIEW BY AGENCY COUNSEL

This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be a valid exercise of the agency’s legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State, on April 23, 2018.

Brian E. Francis
Executive Director
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation