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Legislative Update: A Quick Peek at the Current Status of Some Worthy Bills

2:19 PM PDT on May 28, 2021

Bikes parked in front of the California State Capitol building in Sacramento
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Next Friday, June 4, is the deadline for bills to be voted on by their house of origin (Assembly or Senate) after which they can be considered by the other legislative body. Even with limits placed on the total number of bills any one lawmaker can pass this session, and even after last week's Appropriations bloodbath, there are still a lot of bills at play.

Because of that cap, only bills that are top priorities for their authors have much of a chance of passing.

Below is a quick status update for some of the bills the Streetsblog team has been following. This weekend would be a good time to call your representative and encourage them to vote yes on ones you like. Find their info here.

The following bills are still alive and moving through the process:

Incentives for Buying E-bikes: A.B. 117 would add e-bikes to the Air Resource Board's Clean Vehicles Rebate project, making them eligible for rebates under the rules - and budget constraints - of that program. It is currently on the Assembly floor (and it wouldn't hurt to call your representative and nudge them on this one).

Decriminalizing Jaywalking: A.B. 1238 would clarify that it is not a crime to be a human person in the street. Equity and safety, as well as not making criminals of people who are acting rationally in an environment built to exclude them, are among the many good reasons for this bill.

It is currently on the Assembly floor - this is another good one to call about.

Enforcement Cameras on Buses: A.B. 917 has passed to the Assembly floor. This would expand a pilot program being used on the Alameda Contra Costa Transit system to allow every transit agency in the state to enforce bus-only lanes and parking violations at bus stops using cameras attached to the buses. (A somewhat similar bill, S.B. 111, which would have allowed school buses to use video cameras to enforce the no-passing law, has been shelved.)

Making Safe Streets Permanent: A.B. 773 would allow cities to close streets to vehicles to keep them safe for other users, thus allowing them to make the pandemic-inspired "safe streets" permanent. This bill passed 72-0 on the floor of the Senate on May 13, and has been sent to the Senate Transportation Committee.

Fixing Speed Limit Law: A.B. 43 begins the process of changing the way speed limits are set, based on recommendations from the Zero Fatalities Task Force of a few years ago. It would make it easier for local jurisdictions to lower speed limits, something that they are currently prevented from doing by the state's 85th percentile rules. This bill has already passed the Assembly and is waiting a hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee.

Eliminating Parking Requirements Near Transit: A.B. 1401 would prohibit cities from imposing minimum parking requirements on developments near transit, which have led to overbuilt parking and higher housing costs, among other negative outcomes. The bill is awaiting a vote on the Assembly floor.

Strengthening Sustainable Communities Strategies and Developing Bicycle Highways: A.B. 1147 would require a number of changes to the ways regions plan their transportation and land use, including requiring them to account for how transportation funds support greenhouse gas reductions. It would also require Caltrans to develop a proposal for building bicycle highways to support long bike commutes. This bill is also now awaiting a vote on the Assembly floor.

Transit-Only Lanes on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge: A.B. 455 is specific to the Bay Area, and would allow the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to designate one of the lanes on this vital bridge for transit use only. This would greatly speed up buses, and could potentially make them competitive with car trips on this busy corridor. A.B. 455 passed the Assembly floor yesterday, and is on its way to the Senate.

Finally, below is a short list of some of the bills that are dead for this legislative session:

Speed Cameras Are Out: A.B. 550 would have allowed automated enforcement of vehicle speeds using cameras, but it was killed in the Appropriations suspense process.

Seamless Transit in the Bay Area: A.B. 629 became a "two-year bill" in the same committee process, meaning it's on pause until the next year's session starts up again. This was a state bill aims to lay out a roadmap for the many transit agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area to come together and create a unified system, at least from the perspective of riders.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Reorganization: A.B. 1091, a proposed overhaul of the VTA's board of directors in response to a grand jury report, also became a "two-year bill." Streetsblog wrote about the reasons behind the bill, and interviewed its author, Assemblymember Marc Berman. Seamless Bay Area discusses ways of improving the bill when (not if) it is reintroduced here.

Climate Corporate Accountability: S.B. 260 was always a bit of a long shot, if also long-overdue: It would have required corporations to track and report their greenhouse gas emissions. It was also killed in the suspense process.

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