Quick Legislative Update: Where Are They Now?

Last weeks of session will see last-minute wins and fails: These are the bills still in the balance

Bikes parked in front of the California State Capitol building in Sacramento

The California legislature is currently on its summer break, and when lawmakers return in early August they will have a month to clear out all the unfinished business of this two-year session, which will end officially on August 31.

Below are some of the bills awaiting their fates. Most are waiting in their final committee, the Appropriations Committee of the “other” house, and while some have a hearing date set, these committees tend to keep discussion to a minimum – or eliminate it altogether.

Senate Appropriations, with a hearing date set for August 1 at 10 a.m.:

Assemblymember Chris Holden’s A.B. 1919, which would create a statewide free transit pass for students.

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks’s A.B 455, seeks to speed up bus service on the Bay Bridge, a major choke point for travel in the Bay Area. It started out with the ambitious goal of creating bus-only lanes, but has been whittled down to requiring a goal of establishing speed and reliability performance targets, with suggested strategies for reaching them. This bill has been placed on the Senate Appropriations’ “suspense file,” which means it is not assigned a hearing date but could be passed or defeated by being ignored.

Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath’s A.B. 1713, which would allow bicyclists to treat stop signs as “yield” signs. To get past previous objections, and Governor Newsom’s stated reason for vetoing a similar bill last year, the bill was amended to apply only to people older than 18. That is, young people will still be required to stop fully at every stop sign.

Assemblymember Phil Ting’s A.B. 2147, a second try at decriminalizing jaywalking in California, has been sitting in the Senate Appropriation’s “suspense file” since April.

Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s A.B. 2264, which would require signal upgrading projects to incorporate a Lead Pedestrian Interval. This bill has also been sitting in the Appropriations Committee’s file since April.

Assemblymember Laura Friedman’s “Omnibike bill,” A.B. 1909, includes provisions on clarifying when e-bikes are allowed on bike paths, that bike riders are allowed to use Lead Pedestrian Intervals, and gets rid of local bike licensing requirements, is sitting in Appropriations.

Assemblymember Friedman’s A.B. 2438, which, in keeping with her A.B 285 work, seeks to require that transportation investments align with climate policies.

Assemblymember Friedman’s A.B. 2097, which would eliminate minimum parking requirements for housing built near transit.

Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer’s A.B. 371, which CalBike has dubbed the “kill bike-share bill” because it would impose insurance requirements on scooter and bike-share companies that are beyond what is required for private car owners.

Assemblymember Friedman’s A.B. 1938, which continues her work to redefine and clarify how the state sets speed limits, adds a minor further refinement to when Caltrans is allowed to lower speed limits a bit. This bill is in the Appropriations committee, but without an official hearing date set.

In the Assembly Appropriations Committee, with a hearing date set for August 3 at 9 a.m.:

Senator Josh Newman’s S.B. 942, which sought to create a program for free or reduced transit fares, and now simply eliminates a requirement that a transit agency somehow prove that continuing an existing fare-free program would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Senator Nancy Skinner’s S.B. 878, which would create a statewide program to provide school buses for all K-12 students.

Senator Josh Becker’s S.B. 917, which would require Bay Area transit agencies to work together to create a seamless experience for transit riders on and between their systems, including consistent fares and transfer payments, standardized mapping and signage, and open data systems.

Senator Anthony Portantino’s S.B. 457, which would provide income tax credits for households with no or minimal cars, to encourage people to go “car-lite.”

Senator Portantino’s S.B. 932, which requires city General Plans to include and plan for a “balanced, multimodal transportation system” including traffic calming and planning for bicycle and pedestrian travel.

Senator Scott Wiener’s S.B. 260, the Climate Corporation Accountability Act, which would require large companies doing business in California to track and report their greenhouse gas emissions.

The following bills are a bit further along in the process:

Senator Scott Wiener’s S.B. 922, which would extend an existing exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act for projects that increase and encourage active and sustainable transportation, is awaiting a vote on the Assembly floor, after which it will proceed to the Senate for a concurring vote. It has easily passed every committee and floor vote so far.

Assemblymember Boerner Horvath’s A.B. 1946, which would require California Highway Patrol to establish state standards and training programs for safely riding e-bikes, has passed the Senate. It will need to be passed again by the Assembly before being sent along for the governor’s signature. This one has also easily passed all its votes.

Assemblymember Alex Lee’s A.B. 2206 aimed at first to beef up “parking cash-out programs” that require employers who provide free parking to offer a similar cash subsidy to employees who choose not to drive to work. It’s been narrowed to simply require employers to maintain a record of having told employees of the cash-out benefit. This is currently awaiting a vote on the Senate floor, after which it would go back the Assembly for approval.

These bills are dead for this session:

Assemblymember Cristina Garcia’s A.B. 1778, which would have prevented Caltrans from investing in freeway widening projects through communities impacted by pollution and displacement, was killed in the Senate Appropriations Committee: see more at this Streetsblog post.

Assemblymember Laura Friedman’s A.B. 2336, which would have created a pilot program to test speed cameras in certain cities, died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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