The Missouri House of Representatives passed a legislative bill last week that created a towing task force. The bill now awaits signature from Gov. Mike Parson.
The task force will make recommendations to the state’s Department of Transportation no later than March 1, 2021, concerning maximum towing rates for nonconsensual towing including storage fees, the investigation of overcharges for towing, processes for consumer complaints and civil penalties to use to enforce towing regulations, and relevant information to provide on invoices for nonconsensual towing operations.
Additional recommendations will apply to tows involving vehicles with a gross weight rating of 26,000 lbs. or more. The bill prohibits the use of per-pound billing and limits civil penalty options chosen by the commission to under $5,000 per violation.
The task force will consist of nine members as follows:
- One member of the general assembly appointed by the president pro tempore of the senate
- One member of the general assembly appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives
- One member, or the member's designee, appointed by the governor to represent the department of revenue
- One member, or the member's designee, appointed by the superintendent of the Missouri state highway patrol
- One member, or the member's designee, appointed by the governor to represent towing companies within the state but who does not represent a towing association
- One member who insures commercial motor vehicles, or the member's designee appointed by the governor to represent insurance companies within the state
- One member, or the member's designee, appointed by the governor to represent an association of motor carriers within the state
- One member, or the member's designee, appointed by the director of the Missouri department of revenue
- One member, appointed by the governor, who is a truck driver that resides in Missouri
Supporters say that there is broad agreement that a system for pricing emergency tows fairly is needed to prevent overcharging for removal of accidents involving large trucks. Testifying for the bill were Representative Reiboldt, Mike Matousek, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and the Missouri Trucking Association.
Those who oppose the bill say that the task force could cost money and involve the creation of unnecessary regulations. There are a few bad actors causing majority of issues, but trucking companies are currently allowed to choose a tow company if they have the ability. Testifying against the bill were Dwight Scharnhorst, The Missouri Group and the Towing & Recovery Association of Missouri.
Others testifying on the bill say modern technology involving all properly licensed tow companies can clear highways extremely efficiently and provide fair pricing using computer programs and advanced communication systems. Testifying on the bill were Alan Brasher, Autoreturn, Mike Watson, Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the Missouri Department of Transportation.