CSAC Bulletin Article

Update on Major State Transportation Planning Legislation

June 30, 2022

This week, the Senate Transportation Committee approved Assembly Bill 2438 by Assemblymember Friedman, which was recently amended to address several issues raised by CSAC. The Committee did not hear AB 2237, also by Assemblymember Friedman, which was opposed by CSAC. We expect the Legislature to hold informational hearings in the coming months to examine the issues raised by AB 2237 and the recent AB 285 report

Assembly Bill 2438 (Friedman) –Transportation funding: guidelines and plans – OPPOSE UNLESS AMENDED

AB 2438 would require increased transparency in the project selection process for several competitive state transportation and require updates to program guidelines to specifically include relevant align with state climate plans and goals. The bill also requires the California Transportation Plan to be fiscally constrained. The latter change will provide for more meaningful comparisons between regional transportation plans, which must be based on reasonable revenue estimates, and more aspirational statewide transportation planning documents.

The June 16 amendments addressed CSAC’s primary concerns with the bill by removing the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Account and Highway User Tax Account funding that local governments receive pursuant to SB 1 (Beall, 2017) from the scope of the bill. The amendments also removed concerning language that would’ve undercut processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across a regional plan adopted pursuant to SB 375 (Steinberg, 2008) and instead require project-level consistency with state climate goals.

CSAC continues to hold an “oppose unless amended” position on this measure, however, during the Senate Transportation Committee hearing, the author committed  to taking amendments that would address these final concerns by explicitly listing each the individual programs that will be affected by the new guideline and project selection provisions.

Assembly Bill 2237 (Friedman) – Regional transportation planning: climate goals – OPPOSE

CSAC continues to have major concerns with AB 2237, which is based on the conclusions of the AB 285 report. The bill takes an overly prescriptive approach that strips away regional and local flexibility to meet the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets expected under SB 375 (Steinberg, 2008). We are concerned that many projects sponsored by counties—including safety projects or others that do not increase driving—would not be able to be funded under the bill’s provisions.

June 13 amendments to the bill would imperil transportation projects funded by local tax measures based on consistency with a regional Sustainable Communities Strategy. The bill also puts unclear limitations on using any state funding for projects that increase “single-occupancy vehicle capacity.” These amendments also created significant technical issues, requiring consistency with Sustainable Communities Strategies even in rural areas outside of Metropolitan Planning Organizations.

CSAC continues to hold an “oppose” position on this measure. Our position letter is available here. While the bill will not be moving forward this year, we will continue to monitor the issue, including potential informational hearings in the coming months.

 

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