Waiting for a stroke of the pen: an update on our legislative priorities

Shannon Tracey Headshot

 Cal OESAfter an unusually busy year for transportation and housing in Sacramento, the dust is settling and we are catching our breath. But we’re not counting our chickens! We wanted to let you know where TransForm’s priority bills stand in time to send the Governor a final nudge to sign some great policy into law.

TransForm’s bills are waiting for the Governor’s signature!

AB 17 (Holden) would create a program to fund free and reduced-fare transit passes for low-income students. Unfortunately, the bill no longer contains a funding source (we pressed hard for climate funds, but were denied), and that means that the Governor’s signature will be hard to win.  However, just creating the program this year would set us up well to secure funding in future years.  We are pressing hard on the Governor to sign this bill, in partnership with co-sponsors Move LA, Gamaliel Foundation, and the Student Senate for California Community Colleges. Please call on the Governor to sign the bill!

SB 150 (Allen) would strengthen our state’s climate program by requiring regions to report on their climate protection efforts.  The visionary bill SB 375 prioritized land use and transportation planning as a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and regions now have goals for reducing GHGs and Sustainable Communities Strategies (like Plan Bay Area in the SF Bay Area) that describe how we’re going to meet those goals.  But there’s been no stipulation to track our progress against those goals. SB 150 makes regions answer the question of how we are measuring up to the goals set in our Sustainable Communities Strategies, so we can see whether they are effectively implementing these important climate plans. We co-sponsored this bill with ClimatePlan and NRDC, and we have high hopes it will be signed.

Progress on the Transportation Equity Package

TransForm and several of our statewide allies put together a three-bill Transportation Equity Package, and two of the bills passed the full Legislature. The third, AB 1640, was held early in the session and will be considered again next year.

  • AB 17 (transit passes) is described above.

  • AB 179 (Cervantes) would require consideration of expertise in environmental justice and disadvantaged communities in appointments to the California Transportation Commission.

Bay Area bills, for better and for worse

Two big bills for the Bay Area region also passed the legislature. TransForm mobilized at multiple levels to influence these proposals, with mixed outcomes.

  • SB 595 (Beall) authorizes a regional ballot measure in 2018 to raise bridge tolls around the Bay by up to $3/vehicle.  TransForm has been working behind the scenes locally and in Sacramento to try and redeem what started out as a weak plan. We brought together a coalition of labor and environmental groups and managed to secure more funding for AC Transit, Clipper improvements, and other investments that will benefit low-income people in the Bay Area. The proposal is still a mixed bag, and we'll be considering our position once it heads to the ballot (assuming the Governor signs it).

  • AB 758 (Eggman and Baker) creates a joint powers authority to study a regional rail connection in the Tri-Valley area… our old nemesis, BART to Livermore.  While the bill was amended to allow BART to veto whatever plan comes of the studies, we are not excited to see the return of this zombie of a project. More connectivity is absolutely needed between the Livermore and the inner Bay Area, but there are much more efficient ways to accomplish that goal, and BART is already stretched too thin.

Affordable housing funding proposals approved

The housing crisis spurred hundreds of bills this session, resulting in a 15-bill housing package that was approved by Legislature on their final day in Sacramento.  We are especially excited about SB 2 (Atkins) and SB 3 (Beall), which could together total $7 billion in funding over the next ten years for affordable housing.  Congratulations to our housing advocate allies who have been leading the charge on this critical piece of creating affordable and sustainable communities!  We are proud to have supported this effort and look forward to continuing to work together to create more affordable homes, especially in places with affordable and sustainable transportation options.

As you can see, it's been a busy end of session - but we're not done yet!  Please email the Governor about AB 17 today, and check back here later this fall to for our full legislative year in review.


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.