Legislative Update: A Few Bills to Watch
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The second year of the legislature’s two-year cycle is moving into action, with deadlines looming in the next few months for bills to pass their committees. There is still a lot of negotiating and amending coming up, but here are a few bills to keep an eye on:
Student and Youth Transit Passes
Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) has been trying to pass a bill that would create a program to get free and reduced-fare transit passes into the hands of students who need them. His second attempt, A.B 17, passed the legislature but was vetoed by Governor Brown, whose veto message read: “Before we create this statewide program, I think we should have a fuller discussion on how local transit discount programs work and how any new ones should be paid for.”
So Assemblymember Holden is back with A.B. 2304, which calls for a report on the current status of transit pass programs throughout the state. It’s too bad it takes a legislative act to get a report done, but apparently it does. Transit agencies in California all set their own fare policies and discounts, which vary widely, and there is no overseeing agency that has seen fit to create this badly needed overview. The bill just moved out of the Assembly Transportation Committee.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Access to Parks
California has many beautiful parks, says A.B. 2615 author Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, but too often [Ed. note: always] they are planned as if only people in cars want to get to them. Parking lots and busy streets are nothing for people in cars, but they can create barriers for people who want to arrive by bike and on foot. A.B. 2615 would mandate that Caltrans collaborate with local agencies, including parks departments, to “develop strategies and plans to maximize safe and convenient access for bicycles and pedestrians to federal, state, regional, and local parks adjacent to or connected to the state highway system.”
Passed on Consent Calendar, No Discussion
A.B. 3124 from Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) to allow “articulated” buses and trolley that are up to sixty feet long to add folding bus bike racks. This issue keeps coming up for local agencies; maybe it’s time just to allow all transit vehicles statewide to go ahead and add bus racks?
A.B. 1755 from Assemblymember Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga) would apply hit-and-run law to bikes on Class I bike paths, which apparently is not currently the case.
A.B. 2734 from Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), another stab at independence for the California Transportation Commission, would exclude the CTC from the oversight of the California State Transportation Agency.
Other Bills to Keep in Mind
Assemblymember Frazier has another bill seeking to shift some control over transportation decisions: A.B. 2307 would require senate confirmation for any of the five members of the High Speed Rail Authority that are appointed by the governor. It’s set to be heard next week.
Assemblymember Bloom is the author of a bill that would allow two congestion pricing pilots in California. A.B. 3059 is currently scheduled for a committee hearing on April 23.
Senator Jerry Hill returns once again with an attempt to lower the fine for drivers ticketed for turning right on a red light without stopping. S.B. 1132 is set for a hearing next week.
The so-called Complete Streets bill, S.B. 760, is still alive. That’s Senator Scott Weiner’s bill that as of now allows local agencies to “to consider additional design guides, including the Urban Street Design Guide of the National Association of City Transportation Officials” when designing streets. It won’t move for a while, maybe because Weiner is concentrating on other issues. His housing bill that’s been causing such a ruckus, S.B. 827, just got major amendments and will be heard in committee next week.