Five fantastic transportation bills are at play in the State Capitol

Joshua Stark Headshot

California Homes & Jobs ActMonday, August 12, promises to be a very interesting and important day for California transportation at the State Capitol. No fewer than five bills relating to the future of safe and sustainable transportation are up in hearings that day. Here’s a quick-and-dirty run-down of some bills TransForm has supported through this legislative session (click on the bill number to go to the most current bill language):

TransForm’s Top Priorities

AB 1290 – The Assembly Speaker’s bill modernizing the California Transportation Commission (CTC)

Ever heard of the CTC? It is a little-known (outside the California transportation realm) commission of eleven voting members appointed by the Governor and two non-voting members appointed by the Legislature who meet to approve, adopt, and allocate billions of transportation dollars each year.

AB 1290 by Assembly Speaker John Peréz (D-Los Angeles) makes a number of improvements to the CTC to align its work more closely with the State’s priorities – namely, building a more sustainable, safer, and cleaner transportation network. It adds two voting members to the Commission, appointed by the Assembly and Senate, and 3 ex officio or non-voting seats for the Secretary of Transportation and the directors of the Air Resources Board and Housing and Community Development. It also requires a number of reports that relate to the State’s and regions’ ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

TransForm and the Natural Resources Defense Council have been working with our allies to support this reasonable and good step toward improving California’s transportation system. AB 1290 is up for a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday. Learn more about AB 1290 and the CTC here.

SB 391 – The California Homes and Jobs Act

This bill, authored by Senator DeSaulnier (D-Mount Diablo), would create a permanent source of funds for affordable housing without incurring any debt! The bill adds a $75 fee to real estate–related documents, excluding home sales, and is expected to generate around $500 million per year to help build homes affordable to working families. Affordable homes are a critical component of equitable transit-oriented development, allowing people who already use public transportation to live close to transit hubs when new housing might otherwise price them out of changing neighborhoods.

SB 391 is a good bill, badly needed right now. With the loss of redevelopment funds and bond monies drying up, funding for housing affordable to working-class Californians has almost completely disappeared. For more information and to help support its passage, please visit the California Homes and Jobs Act website. Its next hurdle is before the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on Monday.

Other Important Bills

SB 811 – Improving the I-710 corridor

Authored by Senator Lara (D-Long Beach), this bill would require Caltrans to identify environmental impacts to local communities that may occur due to proposed improvements to the I-710 corridor. Additionally, the bill would require that they report proposed mitigations to address these impacts to the Legislature before submitting their Environmental Impact Review (that is, before finalizing their decision).

This bill is another step in improving community involvement and prioritizing health, safety, and sustainability in transportation planning.  

AB 1371 – Three Feet for Safety Act

Assemblymember Bradford (D-Inglewood) continues to fight the good fight for bicycle safety, resurrecting an important safety idea twice vetoed by Governor Brown. This bill would require that motorists passing bicycles must give at least three feet of clearance. Unlike previous bills, this bill doesn’t allow an automobile to cross double-yellow lines (perhaps a nod to the insurance industry, so that Governor Brown may sign it this time?), but it is still a good measure. It’s on the docket in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 605 – Cap-and-trade auction revenues for disadvantaged communities, and improving the cap-and-trade program

Senator Lara is also the author of this very important piece of legislation. SB 605 continues the Legislature’s efforts to further refine and improve on AB 32, California’s landmark global warming law. This bill would require that any revenues collected by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (beyond the $500 million that the Governor unfortunately loaned away earlier this year) be used in disadvantaged communities first. These communities suffer the most from climate change as well as additional impacts from other air pollutants associated with greenhouse gas emissions – soot, exhaust, dust, and methane to name a few. 

The cap-and-trade program includes what some might call a loophole: companies that do not find it in their economic best interests to reduce their pollution and/or purchase allowances to pollute can purchase “offsets,” investments in greenhouse gas reduction projects, for up to 8% of their total emissions. SB 605 would require that these offsets occur only within California, to ensure that California receives the economic and environmental benefits these projects provide.

The bill has TransForm’s support, and will be heard in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Monday.

If you are interested in supporting one or more of these bills, please contact Joshua Stark, State Policy Director at TransForm. You can stay up-to-date on TransForm's state legislative priorities here.

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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.