Tomorrow is the second Friday in September, and that means it’s crunch time in Sacramento. This week has seen a flurry of action on transportation choices bills as state leaders rush to complete their work before the 2013 session officially adjourns for the year on September 13.
The stakes are high. Bills that don’t pass by tomorrow night are relegated to “two-year” status, but usually they don’t have much of a chance of coming back after the winter. So the pressure is on to get bills to the Governor, which makes for a lot of action in the Capitol as the deadline approaches.
TransForm has advocated for several bills this session, and a few of them have already made it past the goal line. In particular, we’re thrilled that our priority bill, AB 1290, is awaiting the Governor’s signature after final approval on Tuesday.
AB 1290 would modernize the California Transportation Commission (CTC), a little-known but powerful decision-making body that controls the purse strings on many state-level transportation decisions. If the Governor signs AB 1290, it will add new members to the CTC and update its mission to incorporate important new policies like SB 375. You can read our original blog post about AB 1290 here, and email the Governor in support.
We’re particularly excited about AB 1290 because it would strengthen another initiative that’s likely to win approval soon, the Active Transportation Program (ATP). Governor Brown proposed the ATP to bring all the state’s walking and biking funding under one roof, with oversight from the CTC.
TransForm and our allies were initially unsure about this promising but vague proposal – but the details appear to be aligned with the vision of robust funding for walking and biking, protections for programs like Safe Routes to School, and a guarantee to provide benefits to disadvantaged communities. Since it was the Governor’s initiative, we expect the ATP to become law, and we are hopeful that AB 1290 will serve to complement this additional new focus of the CTC.
Speaking of walking and biking, our friends at the California Bicycle Coalition are working hard to see that AB 1371, the three-foot passing law for bicycles, wins the Governor’s signature this year. This bill has passed the Legislature three times and has been vetoed twice. This year’s version was amended to address the Governor’s concerns and will hopefully pass muster – but you can help give it a little nudge by taking action here.
It hasn’t been entirely rosy this week, though. As ClimatePlan’s Autumn Bernstein explains, a promising bill to reform outdated environmental reviews that punish transportation options at the expense of car driving was shelved in favor of a measure to build a new stadium for the Sacramento Kings basketball team.
SB 731 was moving ahead with great language to address longstanding barriers to in-fill development projects that support better public transportation, walking, and biking, as well as provisions to address displacement of vulnerable communities near transit. Some of these policies may be integrated into this new “FrankenCEQA” bill, but not all, and we’re disappointed that SB 731 is no more.
Finally, we’re still watching AB 1330, an environmental justice bill that needs to clear the Senate before close of business tomorrow. It’s still active, and we’re hoping it will pass. You can read our comment letter in support of this bill here.
The close of the legislative session is always exciting and exhausting – and for us, it’s not the end, since we’ll continue to press for gubernatorial approval for those bills that cleared the hurdle in time. You can stay posted on the current status of these and other bills on our legislative page here.