Two down, two to go: Wins for equity in the state capitol

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California state capitol - transportation equity bills passUpdate April 19, 2016: AB 2332 and AB 1982 failed to pass out of the Transportation Committee last night, but we are still pushing for AB 2222 and AB 2796 to advance.  Next, these bills must clear the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  We're particularly concerned - and hopeful - about AB 2222, which we're co-sponsoring.  Help us succeed: email state leaders in support of AB 2222 today!

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Monday was a big day for transportation equity in Sacramento.

That evening, the California Assembly Transportation Committee unanimously passed two of the four bills in the Transportation Equity Package out of committee - bills that could help fund transit passes for students, bicycle and pedestrian safety programs, and bike/ped planning in disadvantaged communities throughout the state.

That’s right, every legislator on the Assembly Transportation Committee from both parties voted for these two bills!  That’s particularly impressive given that one of the bills allocates money from the state’s climate program, which some legislators believe should be eliminated or spent on repairing roads.

The two bills that passed were:

  • AB 2222 by Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) would invest $50 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (which funds projects all around the state) in transit passes for K-12 and college students.  More than 40 speakers lined up at the microphone to share their support for the bill, which has also earned the support of transportation luminaries like UCLA Professor Donald Shoup.
  • AB 2796 by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) would require that the state’s Active Transportation Program invest in educational programs and bicycle and pedestrian planning for disadvantaged communities.

These bills passed out of committee thanks to the efforts of a statewide coalition, including TransForm, California Bicycle Coalition, ClimatePlan, Move LA, Public Advocates, Leadership Counsel, CPEHN, and others – and our many supporters who joined us in urging legislators to vote yes.

People showed up to the Capitol to support these bills from as far away as San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, and Humboldt counties.  Dozens of others called or emailed their legislators. In the end, it was clear that Californians want the kinds of changes that give us real choices for how we get around, and make our roads and streets safer for ourselves and our children.

But, we’re only halfway there – and the remaining bills are likely to need an even greater show of support than we had this week.

On Monday, April 18, the Committee will hear the remaining two bills in the Transportation Equity Package, and there’s a lot at stake. These bills are truly transformative in ways that matter.  But unfortunately they are being opposed by the kinds of business-as-usual attitudes that brought us the terrible transportation conditions, social inequality, and air pollution we are faced with today.

The two bills before the committee next Monday are:

  • AB 2332 (E. Garcia, D-Coachella) would require Caltrans to prioritize our state’s most disadvantaged communities and provide them with real benefits to their transportation system. This includes fixing their roads and streets in ways that improve safety and community health, and provide job training and employment opportunities for their residents.
  • AB 1982 (Bloom, D-Santa Monica) would help make the California Transportation Commission more representative of our state’s diverse population by requiring additional members with environmental justice experience to be added to the Commission.

These bills will not have the same level of support in the Capitol as the first two; indeed, we are facing a steep climb. But our coalition is certain that statewide, support for these bills is strong.  And that support is a powerful thing.

It’s obvious that our state leaders listened to the voice of the people in passing AB 2222 and AB 2796. We believe that advocates can again make a difference by speaking out in support of AB 2332 and AB 1982. In fact, our voices are more important than ever.

Please join us! Email your legislator and urge them to support the remaining two bills in the Transportation Equity Package.

For more information, contact me or read our overview of the Transportation Equity Package.

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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.