Towing Bill Rolls Through the General Assembly

Del. Peace and Sen. Norment make stand for small business towers Burdensome regulations for small business towers proposed by the Virginia Board of Towing and Recovery Operations (BTRO) will be delayed due to a joint effort by New Kent representatives Del. Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover), Chief Patron of House Bill 1296, and Sen. Tommy Norment, Chief Patron of Senate Bill 707. The members' legislation significantly alters the manner in which BTRO conducts its business.

In a victory for the "little guy," the legislation extends the effective date for Board regulations pertaining to public safety towing and recovery services to July 1, 2010 and also requires the Board to hold four public meetings to receive comments and recommendations prior to drafting any public safety towing regulations. This new process is an open government tool to create greater accountability and sunlight on the process. Delaying the public safety regulations will allow smaller towers to continue to operate their businesses without having to buy unnecessary and expensive equipment. Under the Board's proposals, among other items, many small towers would have had to buy another tow truck costing them upwards of $60,000. This burden would shut down small operators known as Class B towers.

Norment and Peace also recommended that in even-numbered years, the chairman of the Board must be a licensed Class A operator and the vice-chairman a licensed Class B operator, and in odd-numbered years, the chairman will be a licensed Class B operator and the vice-chairman a licensed Class A operator. Current Virginia law stated that the Chairman had to be a Class A tower. Class A towers are the heavy duty towers who haul tractor trailer highway accidents. Class B's are those who primarily use roll-back trucks to help motorists stranded on the side of the road.

"The Board of Towing and Recovery Operators have been acting without accountability and needed a strong message sent to them that government whether legislatively or through regulation should not be so burdensome as to put people out of business. Without this legislation, the BTRO proposals would have gone through and small business people throughout our district who perform a great community service would be out of a job and that is wrong," said Peace.

David Adams, New Kent County Class B tower, stated "This bill is a good start toward assuring fairness in representation on the Board and has increased conversation about the regulations. Passing of this bill will make the process fair to all towers."

SB 707 passed the House by a vote of 100-0 today and will now go to the Governor for his signature.