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State Capitol Updates

CA Legislative Update: Raise the Gas Tax? Cap and Trade, HOT Lanes

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Bills have started moving through committees in both houses of the California legislature as the hearing season starts.

For those of you just joining us, we try to provide a regular roundup of legislation of interest to livable streets advocates. Highlights from the current session are included the bills below. Let us know if we missed anything in the comments.

Mandatory Helmet Law Dropped: As we wrote about last week, Senator Carol Liu rewrote her S.B. 192 to ask for a study of helmet use and helmet laws, instead of requiring all bike riders to wear helmets and high-visibility clothing. The new bill is currently set for a hearing in the Transportation and Housing Committee in two weeks.

Proposal to Raise the Gas Tax: Brave Senator Jim Beall finally broached the Subject That Will Not Be Named: raising the gas tax to pay for road maintenance. His SB 16, amended this week, also proposes raising vehicle registration fees and imposing a $100 vehicle registration fee on electric vehicles, the drivers of which pay no gas taxes. The bill is set for a hearing in two weeks in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

Cap-and-trade for Technical Assistance: A.B. 156, from Assemblymember Henry Perea (D-Fresno), would allocate money from the state's cap-and-trade system to disadvantaged communities for technical assistance. Cap-and-trade funds are available for a range of projects and programs designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but “the application process can be overwhelming for communities to navigate on their own. The bill got the green light from the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, and now goes to the Appropriations Committee.

HOT Lane Conversions: A.B. 194 from Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) would give the California Transportation Commission authority to allow more conversions of carpool (High Occupancy Vehicle, or HOV) lanes to toll lanes (known as HOT lanes). The bill passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee, which Frazier chairs, and moves on to the Appropriations Committee.

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