Call to Order and Roll Call
TheProgram Review and Investigations Committee met on Thursday, September 12, 2013, at 10:00 AM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Christian McDaniel, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Christian McDaniel, Co-Chair; Representative Fitz Steele, Co-Chair; Senators Tom Buford, Perry B. Clark, Julie Denton, Ernie Harris, Jimmy Higdon, Dorsey Ridley, and Dan "Malano" Seum; Representatives Dwight D. Butler, Leslie Combs, Jim DeCesare, Terry Mills, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Rick Rand, and Arnold Simpson.
Guests: Lt. Col. Keith Peercy and Maj. Greg Jenkins, Kentucky State Police Division of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement.
LRC Staff: Greg Hager, Committee Staff Administrator; Colleen Kennedy; Katie Kirkland; Van Knowles; Lora Littleton; Jean Ann Myatt; William Spears; Joel Thomas; Stephanie Love, Jessica Sapp, Graduate Fellows; Kate Talley, Committee Assistant.
Approve minutes for August 1, 2013
Senator McDaniel expressed sympathy to Representative Combs and her family; her father passed away last month. He expressed sympathy to the family of LRC staff member Faurest Coogle, who passed away over the weekend. His dedicated service is greatly appreciated.
Senator Ridley expressed sympathy over the passing of former Senate President Pro Tem William L. “Bill” Sullivan.
Upon motion made by Representative Steele and a second by Senator Harris, the minutes of the August 1, 2013, meeting were approved by voice vote, without objection.
Senator Higden introduced his guests Chris and Lisa Sullivan of Spencer County.
Staff Report: Division of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement’s Authority And Activities Related To Noncommercial Vehicles
Colleen Kennedy, Lora Littleton, and Stephanie Love presented the report. Ms. Kennedy said that what had been the Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement entity was placed within the Kentucky State Police (KSP) in 2009. The Division of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (CVE) became a fourth division of KSP. Redundancies in mission, personnel, equipment, and rules and regulations were minimized between the state police and the new division.
According to Kentucky State Police and CVE officials, the regional trend is toward less separation between commercial vehicle entities and state police departments. Staff reviewed entities similar to CVE in six other states and compared them with Kentucky. In five of the seven states, including Kentucky, a CVE equivalent entity is under state police control. In South Carolina, the CVE equivalent and the Highway Patrol are separate divisions within the Department of Public Safety. In Tennessee, CVE is completely merged with the highway patrol.
CVE expended approximately $20 million in each of the past 6 fiscal years, which closely matched revenues. For FY 2012, $15.6 million came from the road fund; federal funding, primarily in the form of grants, was $3.8 million. The remaining $481,000 came from restricted funds. In FY 2012, salaries, wages, overtime, benefits and other related costs accounted for 69 percent of total CVE expenditures; motor fuel costs accounted for 12 percent. Beginning CVE officers earn $28,248 per year. Beginning Kentucky State Police troopers earn $37,382 per year. Of the states reviewed, only Kentucky and Florida had different pay scales for CVE officers and troopers.
With the merger in 2009, the state police department reported a total of $2.3 million in savings realized. Specific examples of savings from the merger provided by the Kentucky State Police totaled $1.4 million.
As sworn peace officers, CVE officers have the authority and duty to issue citations to noncommercial vehicle drivers when called for under several Kentucky statutes and under KSP policy. Participation in enforcing noncommercial vehicle laws is also required under certain federal grants. A CVE sworn officer’s required training is nearly equivalent to that of a KSP trooper.
Ms. Love said that CVE officers have the authority to issue citations to noncommercial vehicles during regular patrol duty. They also issue noncommercial citations as part of specific programs. These include participation in national initiatives, as well as Transportation Cabinet assignments made through the state police for patrolling highway construction work zones. Other programs include assignment by Kentucky State Police to patrol special events such as the Kentucky Derby and the state fair and federal grants that require CVE officers to participate in enforcement of noncommercial vehicles.
Operation Safe Driver is an annual national initiative led by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. It is aimed at decreasing the number of deaths resulting from collisions involving commercial and passenger vehicles.
CVE officers frequently patrol highway construction work zones. Enforcement can focus on commercial or noncommercial vehicle activity. To staff work zone patrol, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet makes a request to KSP, specifying the work zones to be patrolled and the times that the patrols should occur. KSP may then delegate these patrols to CVE officers. In 2012, CVE officers spent more than 2,200 hours patrolling work zones.
Click It or Ticket is a national initiative conducted annually by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration during late May and early June. CVE officers enforce seat belt usage, with the focus on noncommercial vehicles. In 2012, CVE received $20,000 for this campaign.
CVE participation in Blue Lights Across the Bluegrass and a driving while impaired campaign is mandated as part of several National Highway Traffic Safety Administration grant funding streams. Blue Lights Across the Blue Grass targets speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, not using appropriate child restraints, and other safety violations. A driving while impaired campaign, currently called Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, targets driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as other safety violations.
According to a US Department of Transportation study, 56 percent of collisions involving a large truck and a passenger car were caused by the passenger car. In response to this, the US Department of Transportation’s Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program made available two large grants. The purpose of both is reducing the number of crashes involving commercial vehicles. The grant programs aim to do this by enforcing laws against aggressive driving by noncommercial vehicles in areas with a high number of commercial vehicle crashes. In federal fiscal year 2011, the separate corridors and funding for the two grants were combined. The Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT) program was then applied statewide. Both CVE officers and KSP troopers participate in TACT enforcement. Eighty percent of TACT costs are reimbursed by the federal government. In federal fiscal year 2012, Kentucky was awarded $250,000 in TACT funds—one-half the amount it had received in previous years.
More states are participating in TACT, thus decreasing Kentucky’s portion of the funds available, and the federal government is reducing the overall amount available for TACT. Of the six other states reviewed, all but Ohio and Tennessee have received TACT grants at some time during 2009 to 2012.
Ms. Littleton said that there were 127 CVE sworn peace officers and 568 Kentucky State Police troopers in 2012 whose primary duties included vehicle and highway safety law enforcement and highway patrol.
In analyzing citations, staff reviewed data from 2009, the first year in which CVE was entirely under Kentucky State Police control, to 2012. From 2009 to 2012, CVE officers issued more than 90,000 noncommercial vehicle citations. In comparison, KSP troopers issued 580,000 such citations, or more than six times as many as CVE officers.
She presented information on the number of citations and citations per officer by year. In 2012, CVE officers issued more than 22,000 noncommercial citations, and KSP troopers issued more than 176,000. In 2012, on average a CVE officer issued 178 noncommercial citations, and a state police trooper issued 310 noncommercial citations. CVE officers issued more noncommercial vehicle citations than commercial vehicle citations each year. In 2012, CVE officers issued significantly more commercial citations than did state police troopers. In 2012, more than 80 percent of total citations were noncommercial citations issued by KSP troopers. Just over 10 percent of total citations were noncommercial citations issued by CVE officers.
Just over one-half of all noncommercial citations issued by CVE officers were issued under the two federal Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program High Priority Grants. If the TACT grant becomes unavailable, this could affect the number of noncommercial citations CVE officers issue in future years.
Ms. Kennedy said that the KSP electronic database does not indicate whether citations are issued under a grant such as TACT. CVE staff members use paper summary sheets to manually associate an officer’s activity with specific citations. This is done only for TACT, so noncommercial citations made under other programs or a work zone assignment can only be tracked on a limited basis, estimated, or not counted at all. Determination of the level of effectiveness of particular grants and programs would be facilitated if citations associated with them could be readily identified. Recommendation 3.1 is that KSP and its CVE should develop a method for online tracking of CVE’s noncommercial vehicle citations issued under the auspices of a grant or other program.
CVE officers use electronic and paper citation forms. On both, the citation form contains a checkbox option that allows an officer to check whether the vehicle stopped is a commercial vehicle or a hazardous commercial vehicle. If neither box is checked, the citation enters KSP’s database as a noncommercial citation. To avoid potential errors in identifying noncommercial vehicle citations, it would be preferable if the form had separate checkboxes to indicate whether the citation is noncommercial or commercial. Recommendation 3.2 is that that KSP and its CVE should develop a method by which a CVE officer specifically indicates when a citation is issued to a noncommercial vehicle.
Ms. Littleton said that one citation may include up to nine violations. For example, someone can be cited for speeding, careless driving, and not having an insurance card as part of one citation. More than 44 percent of the noncommercial citations issued by CVE officers contained one violation.
Nearly 44 percent of CVE noncommercial violations statewide were for speeding. The second most common violation was failure to wear seatbelts. These two accounted for more than one-half of all violations. The other most common violations were for no insurance card, no registration receipt, and no registration plates. These five violations account for nearly 70 percent of violations statewide.
The typical person cited by CVE for a noncommercial violation was a 36-year-old white male who was not Hispanic. More than 90 percent of those cited were white, nearly 9 percent were black, 66 percent were male, and fewer than 2 percent were Hispanic.
Program Review staff analyzed data on noncommercial vehicle activity in each of the six CVE regions. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet compiles statewide data on estimated daily vehicle miles traveled. In Regions 1, 2, and 3, the region’s percentage of state daily vehicle miles traveled was higher than its share of citations and violations. The largest discrepancy was in Region 2, which had 33 percent of statewide daily vehicle miles traveled but only 15 percent of statewide CVE noncommercial violations. Conversely, Region 4 had 8 percent of statewide daily vehicle miles, but 24 percent of CVE noncommercial violations. Region 6 had only 6 percent of statewide daily vehicle miles, but 20 percent of CVE noncommercial violations.
In Regions 1, 2, 3, and 5, speeding violations were at least 50 percent of the total. The percentage of violations that were felony offenses was less than 1 percent in each region.
In response to a question from Senator McDaniel, Ms. Kennedy said that CVE would be able to provide information on the average tenure of a CVE officer.
Senator McDaniel said that the report documents a decline since 2009 in delinquent taxes collected from commercial vehicle impoundments. In response to his question as to why, Ms. Kennedy said the increase in 2009 was due to the merger of KSP and CVE and an increase in weigh station hours. A grant was received in FY 2010 to collect delinquent taxes. One reason for the decline in subsequent years is a decrease in the number of vehicles weighed and inspected.
In response to a question from Senator Higdon, Ms. Kennedy said that Program Review staff could not explain why the number of speeding violations varies by district. Staff analyzed data trends in the report, but defer to CVE for explanation.
In response to questions from Representative Butler, Ms. Kennedy said that staff did not determine the average collection per commercial and noncommercial citation, but that she would see if this information is available.
Senator Buford said that the economic downturn could help explain the decline in truck traffic. Budget constraints could also be a factor.
In response to questions from Senator Seum, Ms. Kennedy said that training of CVE officers includes Peace Officer Professional Standards (POPS) certification. CVE officers and KSP troopers are nearly equal in terms of training.
In response to a question from Senator Seum, Representative Steele said that the vehicles of CVE officers are tan with blue and yellow stripes. Representative Combs said that the vehicles say “Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement” down the side; they do not say “Kentucky State Police.”
Senator Clark said that, given the possible decline in grant funding, he likes the recommendation to identify which grants under which citations are issued. This would help determine which grants are more effective.
In response to a question from Senator Clark, Ms. Kennedy said that Kentucky is receiving smaller TACT grants in part due to success in reducing commercial vehicle crashes.
In response to a question from Senator Clark, Ms. Kennedy said that statistics on commercial vehicle crashes could be provided.
In response to a question from Senator McDaniel, Ms. Kennedy said that CVE could better explain the discrepancy between the $2.3 million in reported savings from the merger and total itemized savings of $1.4 million.
Lt. Colonel Peercy and Major Jenkins came to the witness table. Lt. Colonel Peercy said that the primary mission of CVE is commercial vehicles and Kentucky’s record in this area is something to be proud of. In 2009, Kentucky was 12th in the nation in commercial vehicle inspections and was 10th in 2010. By 2011, Kentucky was 3rd and was 6th in 2012. The salary disparity between CVE officers and KSP troopers hurts recruitment and retention. He gave examples of officers who left CVE to take other jobs due to pay. This needs to change.
Major Jenkins said that the agency has been moved frequently. It is held accountable in its current organization, which was not always the case in the past.
Senator McDaniel thanked the officers for their service.
In response to a question from Representative Steele, Lt. Colonel Peercy said that he would rate CVE’s equipment as a 7 on a 10-point scale. The division bought 25 new vehicles last year and this year and uses 35 percent of its federal funds to buy new vehicles each year.
In response to a question from Representative Steele, Lt. Colonel Peercy said that KSP does not own any x-ray equipment that would facilitate seeing inside trailers.
In response to a question from Representative Steele, Major Jenkins said that scales are calibrated quarterly by a private contractor.
Senator Buford said the x-ray machines can pull up alongside a vehicle and take a picture of what is inside. It would be worthwhile to explore sharing the cost of the equipment with Indiana. KSP should suggest to legislators the funding that would be needed to increase CVE salaries.
In response to a question from Senator Seum, Lt. Colonel Peercy said that turnover is 6 or 7 CVE officers per year.
In response to questions from Senator Higdon, Lt. Colonel Peercy said that the cost of training an officer could not be determined precisely due the fragmented nature of past training. That will change as training is consolidated. If an officer has a three-year commitment by statute to the division, and the officer returns to the local agency after two years, the local agency is charged a third of the division’s investment.
In response to a question from Representative Steele, Major Jenkins said that officers do receive anti-terrorism training.
Representative Mills expressed concern about the use of electronic devices by drivers. Lt. Colonel Peercy said that it is already illegal for commercial drivers to use handheld devices. Accidents decreased in New York when the state prohibited handheld devices for all drivers. Major Jenkins said they have applied for a $250,000 grant to target phone and seatbelt usage in commercial vehicles, but have not received any notification.
Representative Mills said that he would like KSP to share recommendations on the use of handheld electronics.
Representative Steele said that he would prefer that Trooper Rs keep their jobs. Their experience is priceless. [Trooper Rs are retired troopers brought back on annual contracts.]
Senator McDaniel asked for responses to the two recommendations in the report. Lt. Colonel Peercy said that Recommendation 3.2 would be implemented. Recommendation 3.1 is trickier because there are many grant programs and grant programs change over time. It would be difficult to put specific grants on the citation. He is open to exploring what could be done though.
Senator McDaniel said that he would like CVE to return to report on the status of implementation of recommendations in June or July 2014. Lt. Colonel Peercy agreed to do this. Senator McDaniel said that he would also like to see an update on collection of delinquent taxes at the time. Lt. Colonel Peercy said that the large increase in 2009 followed years in which collections were much lower. Increased enforcement meant that there were fewer uncollected taxes to collect. CVE does on-site, proactive safety meetings with commercial transportation companies. It is hoped that encouraging safety compliance will encourage compliance in general.
Upon motion by Representative Steele and second by Senator Seum, the report was adopted by roll call vote.
Upon motion by Senator McDaniel and second by Senator Harris, the committee approved by voice vote, without objection, that LRC officials should appear at the October 10 meeting of the committee to describe the LRC anti-sexual harassment policy. This is not to be a discussion of specific cases.
Senator McDaniel announced that due to scheduling conflicts, the December meeting has been rescheduled for December 11, 2013, at 10:00 a.m.
The meeting adjourned at 11:08 a.m.