California Legislative Update

bikeatCapitollabel2The California legislature has departed for summer break, so for the next few weeks all will be quiet in Sacramento, at least on the surface. Following are a few highlights on bills that moved through before the policy committee deadline, which was Friday.

Bike Traffic School: A.B. 902 from Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), would make it possible for bicyclists who receive traffic tickets to reduce their fines by opting for a class on bike safety. It was supposed to be a simple language change to expand current law to all bike riders, not just those under eighteen as is allowed now. But legal language is never simple. Two amendments were tacked on in the process of figuring out how this bill would play out on the ground. One  amendment requires that a diversion program be approved by local law enforcement, and the other removed a requirement that diversion classes be offered free of charge. It remains to be seen whether these changes will encourage groups to imitate Bike East Bay, which already runs a successful bike education program, or create a different model of Bike Traffic School. The bill passed the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and went to the Senate consent calendar, which means unless someone pulls it, it is likely to be passed without further discussion.

Statewide Hit-and-Run Alert: A.B. 8, from Mike Gatto (D-Glendale), unanimously passed the Public Safety Committee this week. This is the same bill that the governor vetoed last year, saying there were already too many statewide “alerts”  and he wanted to give some time to see whether the system became overloaded. It remains to be seen whether enough time has passed to convince him to sign it.

Lower Parking Minimums: A.B. 744, from Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), cleared another hurdle when it passed the Governance and Finance committee on a  4-2 vote. Now it will rest in the Appropriations Committee until that group gathers again in August. See earlier Streetsblog coverage of the bill here.

Piecemeal approach to “Transportation Network Companies”–that is, Uber, Lyft, Sidecar: The introduction of app-based ride services caught regulators off-guard and they’ve been working to catch up for the last few years. The list of current pending legislative efforts includes:

  • A.B. 1422, Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove): Transportation network companies are required to review driver records by the CPUC, which means they must do so manually. This bill would authorize them to participate in the DMV’s “pull-notice” program to find out immediately if any of their drivers have been involved in crashes or other issues. It passed the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee  this week.
  • A.B. 24, from Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks): This bill would have required the companies to participate in the DMV pull notice program as well as submit all drivers to a Department of Justice criminal background check. It was held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and is mostly rendered moot by Cooper’s bill.
  • A.B. 229, Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar): This bill would allow the state to reimburse employees that use Uber and Lyft in the course of their duties. It is still alive, sitting in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • A.B. 828, Even Low (D-Campbell): This bill would exempt Uber and Lyft drivers from having to register their cars as commercial vehicles. It passed the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and is pending in the Senate Rules Committee.
  • A.B. 1360, from Philip Ting (D-San Francisco): This bill would authorize the companies to charge individual fares rather than a per-mile or per-trip fee, to encourage ride sharing. It is pending in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee.

Note: the concurrent “special session” on transportation funding is also on break, and some new bills have been introduced as part of that process. That will be the subject of a future post.

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