Friday marked the end of the 2012 legislative session in Sacramento, when hoards of bills either fly or die as the clock runs out on our state lawmakers. TransForm’s Sacramento staff were busy right up to the end with an intensive focus on three bills. Read on for our recap of what went well, what went wrong, and how you can help two of these bills become law in the next 30 days.
AB 441 – Including Health in Transportation Planning (TransForm co-sponsored)
Assemblymember Monning’s AB 441 is on the Governor’s desk, awaiting his signature. This bill, which TransForm co-sponsored with the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, requires the California Transportation Commission to include a list of projects, programs and policies that include health and health equity in its Guidelines for Regional Transportation Plans.
Transportation has a dramatic impact on our health, and on low-income communities that have been disadvantaged for too long. SB 375 has focused regional agencies on meeting greenhouse gas targets, but there is very little in these RTP guidelines that specifically calls out way to improve social equity, and even less of a focus on programs or policies that improve public health.
By incorporating health into planning, some regions in California are starting to address health issues such as diabetes, obesity, and lung disease. Unfortunately, because of California’s size and diversity, regional transportation agencies do not always know effective strategies that are being used in other parts of the state.
A report TransForm recently published with the California Depatment of Public Health, Creating Healthy Regional Transportation Plans, highlights some of these strategies, but is not meant to be exhaustive and had limited distribution. AB 441 ensures that these strategies that meet health and equity goals get highlighted by the state for regional agencies.
Cap & Trade Gets Ready to Roll
This November, California will carry out its first carbon cap & trade auction to cut greenhouse gas emissions per AB 32, passed in 2006. Even though the State will only collect revenues from ten percent of the total carbon allowed this first year, estimates of these revenues’ value range from $600 million to over $1 billion. The best part about this revenue is that it can only be spent in ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or help mitigate the negative impacts of these emissions and other pollution.
TransForm has been working with legislators throughout the year to help ensure that cap & trade revenues collected by the State will be used in a transparent and equitable way. In particular, communities that have already been disproportionately impacted by climate change and local pollution – our most disadvantaged communities – desperately need cap & trade revenues to help right now. Once available, these revenues can quickly be put to use building infrastructure that create real energy and transportation choices in ways that curb pollution emissions, but also save individuals hundreds of dollars and improve local health and safety.
AB 1532 and SB 535, authored by Assembly Speaker Pérez and Senator de Leon, respectively, both address the impacts of climate change in an equitable manner, and we are happy to report that both have passed the legislature and are headed to the Governor’s desk. AB 1532 creates a framework for spending cap & trade revenues, and SB 535 specifically requires that at least 25% of state-collected revenues be used in ways that help disadvantaged communities, and at least 10% be spent on projects within these communities. The two bills are also connected via “contingent enactment”, which means that the Governor cannot sign one bill and veto another; if either bill is vetoed, both bills die.
The Governor now has the opportunity to further implement the will of Californians to reduce greenhouse gasses and other pollution while addressing our health, safety, and quality of life.
Unfortunately, another good bill, Senator Pavley’s SB 1572, did not pass the Assembly. SB 1572 would have specified uses for revenues collected by the State from the 2012 cap & trade auction, and it contained programs and projects that we hope will be taken up by the agencies tasked with allocating these funds.
During the last two weeks in session, cap & trade revenues started to become a political football, with some legislators offering language to give away all carbon emissions for free to polluters. TransForm and allies worked hard to make sure that this did not happen, and after a few tense days of meetings, letters and phone calls, the language did not become a bill. For now, California is set to collect the revenues from ten percent of carbon allowances for the November auction and distribute it some time next year.
Two-Wheelers Get Three Feet Of Breathing Room
The legislature also approved SB 1464, a re-write of a bill the Governor vetoed last year that would improve safety for bicyclists and drivers on our roads. SB 1464 requires drivers to give three feet of clearance when passing people on bikes to prevent dangerous collisions. This common-sense bill was passed by a landslide majority and we expect the Governor to sign it this time around. But we’re not just waiting around – click here to tell Governor Brown you want him to sign it ASAP!
To read SB 1464, please click here.
Now that the legislative session is over, Sacramento seems quieter – but our new state legislative team is still busy as we turn our attention to the Governor’s mansion and begin strategizing for 2013. Check back for a final report on which bills win Governor Brown’s signature, and please contact Josh for more information about our growing efforts in Sacramento.