SB 979 (Marsden) and HB 1649 (Wyatt), as introduced, would prohibit localities from setting limits on towing fees and other associated fees for trespassing passenger vehicles that are in localities without a local ordinance setting these fees. VACo opposed the initial legislation as we believe this pre-empts local authority and restricts the ability of local governments to respond to constituent concerns.
As previously reported, SB 979 died early in the Senate while HB 1649 would be significantly amended and pass through the House of Delegates. HB 1649 was amended to now only allow towers and recovery operators to levy a $30 fuel surcharge fee for each vehicle towed and prohibits localities from limiting or eliminating this fee. The amended bill also includes a sunset clause where the fuel surcharge fee would expire on July 1, 2024. While the bill was amended in the right direction, VACo opposes HB 1649 and spoke in opposition during its hearing in the Senate.
Since crossover, HB 1649 has advanced through the Senate but not without lengthy discussion and controversy. The bill reported from the Senate Transportation Committee by a vote of 9-6 and then, upon its first vote on the floor of the Senate, failed to pass by a vote of 19-19. The bill was then reconsidered with an amendment to lower the fuel surcharge fee from $30 to $20 and ultimately passed the Senate by a 21-19 vote. The House would accept the Senate’s amendments by a 50-45 vote, thus sending the bill to the Governor’s desk where we await his decision.
While the bill was further amended in the right direction, VACo opposes HB 1649 as currently constructed. We will continue to update you if and when the Governor takes action on HB 1649.
VACo Contact: James Hutzler