2015 Selected Transportation Legislative Updates
Posted by By Naomi Iwasaki, Mobility Policy Analyst on July 28th, 2015
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• AB 779, a State Assembly bill to Delay Level of Service (LOS) reform (Garcia, D-Bell Gardens), was amended twice from its original draft in early June and now has narrowed the definition of where LOS reform could happy automatically. The California Office of Planning and Research (OPR) was required by last year’s SB 743 (Steinberg, D-Sacramento) to develop a way of measuring the environmental effects that new development has on traffic. The current and previously accepted process, LOS, solely analyzes congestion and vehicle delay and does not acknowledge other metrics that account for environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions affected by Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). In 2014 OPR issued a preliminary draft of new guidelines that propose using VMT but the guidelines have not been finalized and are not yet legally binding. Originally, AB 779 would have broadened the definition of where LOS reform could happen automatically. But after it was amended to delay the substitution of VMT for LOS the latest revision simply authorizes OPR to make the determination what projects in transit-heavy areas are exempt from having to analyze traffic impacts. Currently it has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.
• SB 16 (Beall, D-San Jose) has been referred to as the “gas tax” due to the revenues it would raise to fix roads by raising the gas tax. It would also raise the annual vehicle registration fee, and add a new annual registration fee to zero-emission vehicles, which pay little to no gas tax. While this bill faces certain opposition, it is important to remember that the California gas tax has not changed from 18 cents per gallon for over 20 years. Similarly, the federal gas tax has not increased during this time (from 18.4 cents per gallon) During this time, fuel efficiency has increased by 20% with vehicles averaging ever-increasing miles per gallon each year. Further, population and vehicle miles traveled have both increased, but gas tax revenue has remained flat and is projected to decrease in the future. The state gas tax is an underutilized revenue generator for road repair, which are mostly impacted by wear-and-tear from motor vehicles, especially considering that construction costs have increased by 160% since the last gas tax increase. SB 16 remains in the Senate and requires a two-thirds vote to pass.s
• AB 8 (Gatto, D-Los Angeles), which would create a “yellow alert” system that would include electronic road signs and emergency alerts to help authorities find hit-and-run perpetrators passed unanimously in the Assembly and Senate committees. It is currently up for vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee before heading to the full Senate floor. If passed there, it is up to the Governor to sign into law or veto.
• AB 534 (Linder, R-Corona) would have required a mandatory non-negotiable six-month license suspension in hit-and-run convictions, but it failed to pass its Assembly committee.
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