Legislators On Legislative Achievements
Here are some unedited press releases of measures approved by the Assembly and Senate this week. With the exception of Assemblyman Holden’s measure most are being volleyed from one house to the next where they will be analyzed further before returning for final approval in their house of origin in early September:
Assemblymember Holden’s First Bill Heads to the Governor’s Desk
AB 72 Municipal Water District Start Dates
Sacramento – Assemblymember Chris Holden’s bill to standardize the start date of newly elected Municipal Water District Directors has been approved by the State Legislature and is now on its way to Governor Brown for signature. It is the first bill from freshman Assemblymember and Majority Whip Holden (D-Pasadena) to pass the legislative process.
Assemblymember Holden applauded his colleagues’ bipartisan support “for this common sense, good government bill designed to limit the ‘lame duck’ term for outgoing Water District Directors.” Holden added, “This bill will ensure water districts are able to move swiftly between terms and critical business is not delayed unnecessarily.”
Here’s the problem: Newly elected directors of California Water Districts take office on the first Friday in December, while those elected to Municipal Water Districts must wait until the first Monday after January 1st, making it difficult to proceed with municipal water business until new members are seated some 60 days later.
Senate Approves Steinberg’s Local Economic Development Measure
(Sacramento) – Legislation providing California cities and counties a new tool to invest in affordable housing and the development of sustainable communities was approved by the state Senate today. Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) is the author of Senate Bill 1, which passed on a 27 – 11 vote.
The bill provides resources to stimulate strategic, local economic development through the creation of Sustainable Communities Investment Areas. Cities and counties would be allowed to form Sustainable Communities Investment Authorities, managed by independent citizen governing boards, to create good jobs, affordable housing and a healthier environment by using tax increment funding to develop transit priority areas, clean manufacturing districts and small walkable communities. No tax revenues would be diverted from schools and the state’s general fund would be protected. In addition, independent audits would be required every five years.
“While the loss of redevelopment agencies left a void in local economic development, we’ve gained an opportunity to replace it with a better system to create more sustainable communities and more affordable housing. What was previously an often abused definition of eliminating blight would be replaced with the goals of encouraging transit-oriented infill development to help reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Steinberg. “I believe 2013 is the year we can move forward, putting behind us the divisive issues of dissolving redevelopment agencies. This bill will encourage cooperation, not competition, between cities and counties as they direct sustainable growth and invest in the human capital of our workforce.”
Local governments participating in the program would be required to adopt a plan with incentives to create good jobs for the disadvantaged, such as recent veterans, single parents and people with a history in the criminal justice system. In addition, a minimum of 25 percent of the tax increment revenue must be used to create affordable housing for low and moderate income families. Authorities could also use revenues for the development of High Speed Rail stations and related infrastructure.
SB 1 is a modified version of Steinberg’s SB 1156 of last year, which the Governor vetoed with concerns about the then-ongoing disputes over dissolving redevelopment agencies and the ability of schools to realize projected property tax increases. Those issues are expected to be completely resolved by this summer. In fact, this measure requires cities and counties to receive a “finding of completion” from the state Department of Finance, certifying they’ve met the legal requirements of the dissolution process, before they can participate in the new Sustainable Communities Investment Authorities program.
Bills to Create Greater Accountability and Transparency at Caltrans Pass State Senate Unanimously
The California State Senate passed two bills, authored by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), aimed at making Caltrans more accountable to the public. SB 486, which creates the Office of Legal Compliance and Ethics, passed off the senate floor unanimously today on a 39-0 vote. SB 425, which defines the peer review process for public works projects, passed the state senate unanimously last Friday on a 35-0 vote.?
?“These bills represent the first steps in changing the culture at Caltrans,” Senator DeSaulnier said. “When it comes to reviewing major public works projects, we need to introduce greater accountability and transparency. The Office of Legal Compliance and Ethics will ensure Caltrans audits and investigations are reported to the public—not just the higher ups at Caltrans. Additionally, projects touted as ‘peer reviewed’ should live up to the public’s expectation of what the term really means. SB 425 sets the standard for assembling peer review panels in a clear and transparent manner. The unanimous votes for SB 425 and SB 486 show that these are common sense, bi-partisan reforms.”??
SB 486 creates the Office of Legal Compliance and Ethics (OLCE) within the Transportation Agency by rededicating a large part of the Audits and Investigations Division of Caltrans. The OLCE will utilize existing resources, minimizing costs. The OLCE will be responsible for preventing and detecting serious breaches of Caltrans policy, as well as fraud, waste, and abuse. The OLCE director will report to the California Transportation Commission, the Governor, and the Legislature, and will post a summary of his or her findings for the public on the agency’s website instead of reporting to the Caltrans director.??
SB 425 takes a number of steps toward legitimizing the use of peer review on public works projects in California. SB 425 defines peer review and requires administering agencies utilizing a peer review group on a public works project to develop a transparent process for selecting members of the review group. Further, agencies must draft and post online a charter for the peer review group describing the groups’ members, objectives, and aims. Finally, SB 425 restricts the use of the term peer review in order to maintain the integrity of the process throughout the state. A project cannot be “peer reviewed” unless the group created by the administering agency meets the strict standards outlined in SB 425.
Corbett Bill Supporting California Clean Energy Tech Passes Senate
SB 124 Offers 5% Bid Preference To Help California Green Companies
SACRAMENTO – Senate Bill 124, legislation that assists California green companies to install clean energy technologies on state property, passed the California State Senate today with bipartisan support.
Introduced by Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-East Bay), this important bill provides a 5% bid preference to a company seeking a contract with state agencies or the California State University (CSU) to install clean energy technologies if the company certifies that it is using clean energy products manufactured in California.
“SB 124 helps create much-needed jobs in an emerging and innovative industry in California that incentivizes the development of green technology on state property,” Senator Corbett said. “When California taxpayer dollars are spent to implement energy efficiency projects at a CSU campus, for example, it makes sense to offer a small bid preference to those who bid on these project contracts that use California products. SB 124 supports California’s long-term financial investment in green technology and ensures that in-state residents benefit from those efforts.”
States throughout the country, including Alaska, Idaho, Montana and West Virginia, have already established preferences for state-manufactured goods.
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