A bipartisan bill that 12th District Sen. Brad Hawkins introduced this year after a request by a tow-truck operator located in his district is now one major step closer to becoming law.
The Senate today voted 47-1 to pass Senate Bill 5406, which would help tow-truck operators gain payment for keeping public roadways clear if called out by the State Patrol or local law enforcement agencies to clear a vehicle due to negligence.
“Tow-truck operators are small-business owners who are being called on by law enforcement officials to do important work to help keep our roadways clear, but they sometimes get stuck with the bill if drivers or insurance companies don’t pay them,” said Hawkins.
The bill authorizes a registered tow-truck operator, dispatched by law enforcement or another state or local agency, to bring a civil action to recover unpaid vehicle recovery, impound and storage charges from a person who was operating a motor vehicle on a public highway in an illegal or negligent manner.
The request for a legislative fix came from Randy Houston, who owns Randy’s Auto Parts and Towing and provides towing services throughout the 12th District.
“The work of Senator Hawkins and the entire Legislature to help registered tow-truck operators get fairly paid for the work on behalf of law enforcement and government agencies is the right thing to do,” said Houston. “This will make sure that everyone who works to clear our highways and make them safe is treated equally. The leadership of Senator Hawkins was key to getting SB 5406 passed in the Senate with bipartisan support after many years of working on this issue. I look forward to working with Senator Hawkins to move this bill through the House and to the governor for signature.”
Hawkins added, “These tow-truck operators are helping to provide a great service throughout our state. These are often local, small businesses whose owners are trying to put food on their tables just like the rest of our families. They shouldn’t be stuck with the bill. That’s not right. If this keeps up, they will might just say no if it looks like a situation where they won’t recover their costs. That would be a bad outcome for everyone.”
The proposal now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
(CAPTION: Randy’s Towing helps pull a stranded vehicle out of a river off Highway 2. Senate Bill 5406 would help tow-truck operators gain payment for keeping public roadways clear if called out by law enforcement agencies to clear a vehicle due to negligence.)