To prepare, the organization is asking current members to call upon other shops to help them take on this potentially disastrous bill as they enter 2018.
In an announcement, CAA Executive Director David McClune briefed its membership on the current state of AB 1679.
"The Assembly Appropriations Committee has delayed consideration on AB 1679 until next year,” he stated. “Yes, it's good news, but the battle has only begun. We are still David against the Goliath insurance industry and whatever reincarnation of AB 1679 will appear next, we need your help. The insurance companies can re-introduce it in January and they likely will, but it's good news that they didn't come up with another bill this year. We can win this thing, but only if every shop, each staff member, each employee, and every family member does their part, and we are going to do everything we can to make it easy for each and every one of you to be heard."
McClune is calling for new members to join CAA and use the power of the organization to defeat AB 1679 in 2018.
"Every few years, we get a bill like this one that has the potential to change the collision repair industry in California in a big way," he said. "If you're a shop owner and you're concerned about AB 1679---which you should be---this is the ideal time to join us."
McClune and CAA are poised and prepared to take on the insurance companies, backed by Insurance Commissioner David Jones.
"AB 1679 is a serious threat to every body shop in California, because (it) will tighten the insurance industry's grip over the auto repair process, weaken the only advocate (independent body shops) consumers have when dealing with their auto insurer, and cause cuts in employee pay and benefits, layoffs and more," McClune said. "It is unfair and unreasonable. Simply put, AB 1679 threatens us and our livelihood and hurts consumers. A few big insurance companies want to lower our pay so they can 'save consumers from higher premiums' and make even bigger profits. In the long run, the auto repair industry will become less competitive because the insurance companies will completely control it. And we all know what happens to costs, wages and consumer protection when things become less competitive.
"AB 1679 also takes away rights of consumers to freely choose their repair shop by weakening the existing anti-steering law. There is a reason that law was passed 14 years ago, and that reason has not gone away. On October 21 in Huntington Beach, CA, we will be holding a board meeting in order to devise a battle plan against AB 1679. We have David Jones in office for one more year, so the time to defeat this is now."
Another proposed bill currently on CAA's radar is a new regulation on electronic documentation and authorization that was discussed during a hearing held on Sept. 26.
"It basically expands the current authorization definition, which allows the customer to provide authorization (that is) either written, verbal or electronic---digitally, magnetic, wireless, optical or electromagnetic, to name a few---so they want to make sure to cover all their bases,” McClune said. “Before, it was only allowed through writing, but now this new regulation will enable customers to use all three methods of authorization."
CAA recently added two new sponsors to its list of business partners---KPA and the Automotive Training Institute (ATI). KPA works with the collision repair industry to ensure that standards and regulations are followed by implementing a series of environmental and safety programs. ATI has been conducting management classes for body shops all over the country since 1980.