State Legislation: 2012 in Review

Joshua Stark Headshot

California’s legislature runs in two-year cycles. The final two months of this cycle – the end of legislative session in August then waiting for the Governor’s decision on several bills in September –  made for an exciting and, at times, nail-biting 60 days.  

Here is a run-down of the bills that TransForm and so many of our allies worked hard all of 2012 to pass.
 
These represent the nine bills TransForm dedicated the most time to, including bringing over 100 advocates for a full day of lobbying on these bills in Sacramento – reaching every office in the capitol.  
 
The final score? 5 signed by the Governor, 2 vetoed, and 2 failed to pass the Legislature.  

Signed by the Governor

AB 441 (Monning) – Including health and equity in regional transportation planning (a TransForm co-sponsored bill)
 
On September 19, Governor Brown signed AB 441 into law. This law requires the California Transportation Commission -- in their next update of the Regional Transportation Plan guidelines -- to include a summary of projects, policies and programs that successfully promote better health and health equity.
 
TransForm is proud to have co-sponsored this bill with CPEHN, the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, and to have worked with the bill’s author, Assemblyman Bill Monning.  Together we showed how so many of the strategies outlined in our recent report Creating Healthy Regional Transportation Plans, can provide great access for people of every age, income race and ability while making the transportation system even more efficient.  From Safe Routes to Schools to providing vanpools for migrant workers we can promote safety, reduce congestion and air pollution, and save families money.
 
But AB 441 is just the first step.  TransForm and many of our allies are dedicated to making healthy, safe, and efficient transportation a top priority at the local, regional and state levels.  A victory like this is important in providing real information to planners and agencies, as well as advancing our efforts to build coalitions advocating for future improvements.  This is one more step in guaranteeing "Health in All Policies".
 
Thank you to everyone who visited Sacramento with us or contacted the legislature or Governor.  Read the full text of the new law you helped to pass.
 
SB 1339 (Yee) – Expanding commuter benefits programs across the Bay Area
 
Governor Brown signed SB 1339 on September 30th, authorizing a pilot program through 2016 in the San Francisco Bay Area that allows the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District) to jointly adopt an ordinance requiring employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer certain employees commute benefits.  In return, these businesses receive reductions in their payroll taxes.
 
It is estimated that SB 1339 will save commuters up to 40% on commuting costs and save employers about 9% on payroll taxes as employers can deduct the costs of the program from their payroll tax burden.
 
AB 1446 (Feuer) – Extending ½ cent sales tax in L.A. County
 
Governor Brown signed AB 1446 into law on September 30th, authorizing the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency (LA Metro) to place on an LA County ballot the permanent extension of an existing county-wide ½ cent sales and use tax, which currently sunsets in 30 years. Revenue from the existing ½ cent tax, known as “Measure R,” is dedicated to construction and operation of rail, highway and bus projects in Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), as well as local initiatives such as street and signal improvements, bicycle and pedestrian projects, and more.
 
Assembly Bill 1446 will give LA County voters the opportunity to extend the duration of this important local source of funding for an ambitious program of transportation infrastructure projects that will transform the Los Angeles region.  The anticipated new revenue can be bonded against to build project sooner.
“I am thrilled that with Governor Brown’s signature on AB 1446, Measure J can go before LA County voters in November,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “If we pass Measure J, we can…..complete light rail and subway projects in one decade instead of three.”
 
For more information please see: http://www.metro.net/projects/measurej/
 
AB 1532 (Pérez) & SB 535 (deLeon) – Processes for allocating carbon cap & trade auction revenue
 
On September 30th, Governor Brown signed AB 1532 and SB 535 into law.  These two bills set up a process and guidelines for allocating revenues collected by the state from its cap & trade carbon auction. AB 1532 develops the process, with illustrative (but not exhaustive) language around the possible uses for this revenue – specifically mentioning public transportation and housing, among others.  
 
SB 535 clearly states that at least 25% of cap and trade auction revenues must be spent on projects and programs that positively impact disadvantaged communities, and at least 10% of all revenues must be spent within disadvantaged communities.  Both bills help to offset the impacts of climate change and other pollutants on all Californians.
 
TransForm applauds the leadership of Governor Brown, Speaker Pérez, and Senator deLeon in maintaining momentum and providing clear direction for California’s future through these two laws. TransForm will continue to build support for significant funding for public transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and affordable homes near transit.  Read TransForm's and allies' proposal for cap and trade auction revenue
 

Vetoed by the Governor

SB 1156 (Steinberg) – Establishing a Sustainable Communities Investment Authority
 
This bill was intended to authorize cities and counties to form Community Development and Housing Joint Powers Authorities (JPAs) for the purpose of administering ongoing economic development and affordable housing programs while reducing vehicle miles traveled.  The Governor vetoed the bill, expressing hope that he and stakeholders would work closely in the future on new proposals, “… once the winding down of redevelopment is complete and General Fund savings are achieved.”  
 
TransForm commends the work of Senator Steinberg and looks forward to working with our allies who helped lead on this bill such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, to support redevelopment that meets Californians’ needs and provides real transportation choices.
 
SB 1464 (Lowenthal) – Creating a 3-foot safety zone to protect bicyclists from motor vehicles
 
This was a priority bill for TransForm, and sadly vetoed by the Governor.  In his veto message, the Governor claims that the bill does not adequately protect the State from lawsuits brought by drivers who felt they must cross a double yellow line and became involved in head-on collisions or other accidents as a result.  
 
This concern was not brought up during the legislative session by any other interested party, including the Attorney General’s office, nor the CHP.  TransForm is greatly disappointed that bicyclists must continue to use unsafe roadways due to the Governor’s concern over lawsuits (California’s bicycle and pedestrian roadway fatalities are roughly twice the national average).
 

Did Not Pass the Legislature

AB 485 (Ma) – TIF for TOD
 
Assemblywoman Ma authored language intending to ease the use of tax increment financing (TIF) to fund transit-oriented development (TOD).  The bill would have made it easier for local governments to raise funds for TOD’s as long as they met certain requirements – such as dedicating 20% of revenues to affordable homes.  The bill met stiff resistance from the Governor’s office, and was pulled from consideration by the author.  TransForm looks forward to working with the assemblymember and the bill’s sponsor, BART, to further the important goals of this bill.
 
SB 1572 (Pavley) – Cap and trade auction revenue allocation for 2013
 
This bill would have allocated revenues from California’s first cap and trade carbon auction – scheduled for November of 2012 – to specific projects and programs.  TransForm and Housing California worked closely with senate staff and met with Senator Pavley to show the benefits of a proposal that included transit and affordable homes.  
 
Some of TransForm’s ideas for ensuring affordable homes near transit actually pushed the envelope on being low-traffic and thus would be able to stand up to a legal next test, were put in as part of her bill (e.g., prioritizing projects that offer free transit passes and carsharing).
 
The bill, which received stiff resistance, was pulled from consideration by the author.
In all, TransForm had a good year in the legislature.  The passage of AB 441, AB 1532 and SB 535, in particular, set a course for California’s transportation and urban planning and development that give us reason to be optimistic about our future.  

 

Need More Information?

For the most up-to-date information on the status of California bills go to http://legislature.ca.gov/

Have questions? Contact Joshua Stark, State Campaign Director.

Want to submit a piece of legislation for TransForm to take a position on? Fill out the request form.

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About This Blog

TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.