(April 16, 2007) -- The chair of the State Assembly Transportation Committee -- a member of the Assembly's Democrat leadership -- today deleted from a bill he authored (AB 995) priority funding for transportation/infrastructure projects (funded by voter-approved Prop 1B) that would reduce pollution.
The action by Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D., Santa Barbara) drew no response from -- and was supported by -- LB area Assemblywoman Betty Karnette (D., LB). Assemblywoman Karnette joined Democrat and Republican Committee members in voting "yes" to advance the measure (carried 9-0 on the 14-member Transportation Committee).
Removal of legislature-directed priority funding for projects to reduce pollution wasn't publicly disclosed prior to the hearing...but was apparently shared word with at least one Republican Committee member before the hearing. After Assemblyman Nava presented the bill, a Republican leader on the Committee asked him, "Was there an amendment you were going to make on this, sir?"
Assemblyman Nava replied, "Yes, I did," and (citing to the line and page of the bill) said, "I want to strike the requirement that funding priority be given to projects that reduce pollution. Strike it as a priority."
Assemblyman Nava also referred to "author's amendments recommended by the committee on page two" but we didn't find these available on the internet.
Assemlywoman Karnette said nothing in response to Assemblyman Nava's deletion of priority funding for projects that reduce pollution. When the clerk called the Committee roll, Assemblywoman Karnette voted "yes" on the bill.
Following the late afternoon vote, LBReport.com phoned Assemblyman Nava's Sacramento office and asked his press aide why Assemblyman Nava deleted priority funding for projects that reduce pollution from his own bill. We left the aide our email address and a private-line contact phone number. As of 10:00 p.m. April 16, we'd received no answer to our inquiry.
As of April 10, Assemblyman Nava's bill had said in pertinent part:
Funding priority for projects from proceeds of bonds [voter approved in Nov. 06] issued under this chapter shall be given to projects that provide the following:
(a) The highest benefits compared to the cost. However, this subdivision shall not apply to projects that provide increased protection against a security and safety threat or projects to develop disaster response transportation systems that can move people, goods, and emergency personnel and equipment in the aftermath of a disaster impairing the mobility of goods, people, and equipment.
(b) Projects that reduce pollution.
Assemblyman Nava's April 16 action deleted subsection (b) [funding priority for projects that reduce pollution].
Another section of the bill says projects funded by the bonds "shall provide capital purchases or strategies that provide benefits that extend beyond the duration of the bonds" and "shall be fully mitigated in terms of their air quality and environmental impacts."
The action comes just weeks after LB Mayor Bob Foster, Councilman Patrick O'Donnell (chair of the Council's State Legislation Committee) and City Hall Gov't Affairs Manager Tom Modica travelled to Sacramento in urge passage of legislation to tie Prop 1B bond-funding, or container fee proposed by State Sen. Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV), or both, linking LB-impacting goods movement infrastructure to LB-protective mitigation measures.
Senator Lowenthal and Mayor Foster both urged voters to support Prop 1B in Nov. 2006...despite its lack of such project-specific pollution-reduction linkage, arguing that the state legislature could attach conditions to the bond money that Lowenthal and Foster indicated they hoped to shape in 2007.
The assurances didn't impress everyone. Invoking an expression from a Sacramento Bee editorial, NLB neighborhood advocate Dan Pressburg told a pre-election "informational hearing" chaired in L.A. by Sen. Lowenthal that the bond's failure to include protections for area residents amounted to "faith based" legislating. Backed by a major media campaign and endorsed by Dems along with CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Prop 1B bond measure passed handily.
The Assembly Transportation Committee's deletion of projects that reduce pollution from legislature-directed priority funding under the bond comes one day before the State Senate Transportation Committee (chaired by Senator Lowenthal) is scheduled to take up Lowenthal's "Port Investment" bill (SB 974) [on which Assemblywoman Karnette is listed as co-author].
As previously reported by LBReport.com, on April 6 veteran area environmentalist Tom Politeo [speaking in his personal capacity, not as leader of the Sierra Club's Harbor Vision Task Force] has told the South Coast Air Quality Management District's governing board that Sen. Lowenthal's bill needs a "strong edit.".
Mr. Politeo's testimony follows testimony to the LB City Council by San Pedro area neighborhood advocate Janet Gunter and LB neighborhood advocate Bry Myown, voicing concerns about Lowenthal's "Port Investment" bill as well as his failure to reintroduce "no net increase" in port-pollution legislation...which he had publicly indicated he would reintroduce as recently as November 2006.
"No net increase" legislation has been a part of legislation supported by the AQMD, the City of Long Beach, clean air and health advocacy groups for a number of year. In 2006, a no net increase bill (SB 764) by Senator Lowenthal, which was opposed by industry interests, was blocked in the Assembly Appropriations Committee by Assembly Democrat leaders.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, on April 13 LB's Westside Industrial Redevelopment Project Area Committee voted to urge the City Council to support state legislation to enact the "no net increase" mechanism that Sen. Lowenthal championed in 2006...but has not reintroduced in 2007.