(August 29, 2006) -- LBReport.com is following major developments in Sacramento.
A battle with major consequences for LB area residents is expected later today (Aug. 29) in the State Senate on a bill by Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza (D., Carson-LB) that would define "diesel magnet sources" to include facilities such as sea ports and airports.
In salient part, AB 1101 would define a "diesel magnet source" as a facility that, by the nature of its operation, attracts diesel engines in large numbers and includes ports, airports, and rail yards; requires emission inventory plans within one year and on or before July 1, 2009 requires local air districts to prepare a list of available strategies to reduce emissions associated with the diesel magnet sources.
The measure allows districts to provide five-year extensions for diesel magnet sources to implement an airborne toxic
risk reduction audit and plan and clarifies that all costs incurred in complying with this act shall be recovered through the collection of fees.
The City of LB has a seaport and airport that would be directly affected by the bill...and after LBReport.com reported that LB City Hall management had only taken a "watch" position on AB 1101, the City Council adopted a resolution explicitly endorsing the legislation.
As of Aug. 11, a legislative analysis indicated supporters also included the CA Air Pollution Control Officers Association, American Lung Association of California, Environmental Defense and Teamsters. The legislative analysis indicated AB 1101's opponents included APM Terminals, Airport Council International, North America, Air Transport Association, American Trucking Associations, Association of California Airports, California Chamber of Commerce, California Trade Coalition, County of Orange, Harbor Association of Industry & Commerce, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the Western States Petroleum Association.
In January 2006, AB 1101 cleared the full Assembly with LB Assemblywoman Betty Karnette voting with Assemblywoman Oropeza in support (recorded vote click here). A floor vote in the State Senate could come today (Aug. 29).
Another LB impacting clean-air showdown is expected in the Assembly, where one of State Senator Alan Lowenthal's port related measures could come to a vote. Sen. Lowenthal "gut and amended" SB 927 and poured the text of his SB 760 into it (container fee revenue split between rail cargo projects, port security and air quality projects) after its advance was blocked in the Assembly Appropriations Committee (controlled by Dems) on Aug. 17.
However, as reported by LBReport.com, Sen. Lowenthal failed to do likewise on what is arguably the more significant of the two measures: SB 764 -- the "no net increase" in port pollution bill...which would establish actual pollution baselines and require the Ports of LB and L.A. to meet them. [Comment: The "no net increase" bill doesn't just hand out money from a container fee, it would require net results.]
Sen. Lowenthal previously called SB 764 the most important legislation he'd introduced in all his years in the state legislature (since 1999). After a 2004 version (AB 2042) was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger, Lowenthal promptly reintroduced the measure on being elected to the State Senate.
On July 12, 2006 as first reported by LBReport.com Sen. Lowenthal told a LB hearing by LB and L.A. Port officials that both bills were needed as part of the Ports' "Clean Air Action Plan."
Both bills are supported by the City of LB via a vote of the LB City Council. The Port of LB is officially neutral on the "no net increase" bill...but both bills have been opposed by the "CA Ass'n of Port Authorities" in which the Ports of LB and L.A. are both members (and PoLB Exec. Dir. Richard Steinke has served as the group's rotating president for the past year).
Both bills have already cleared the State Senate...but on August 17 (as first reported by LBReport.com), the Assembly Appropriations Committee's chair, Judy Chu (D., Monterey Park) blocked their advance to the Assembly floor [almost certainly with tacit support from Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D., L.A.); neither Chu nor Nunez have returned calls seeking comment from LBReport.com.].
After first telling LBReport.com that Sen. Lowenthal was pushing for both bills, a Sacramento office staffer conceded on Aug. 28 that he is now basically only pushing the container fee bill [in effect letting the Democrat Assembly leadership quietly kill his "no net increase" bill].
[Comment: We'd been alerted to Sen. Lowenthal's softening position on the no net increase bill in late June but we didn't believe it...especially after his July 12 public statements regarding the importance of both bills.] Sen. Lowenthal has not returned calls from LBReport.com left with his office and on his Sacramento cell phone seeking comment the matter.
As first reported on LBReport.com's front page (www.lbreport.com) as news broke Monday, a number of Democrats in the state Assembly tried on Aug. 28 -- and failed for now -- to pass a bill (SB 1322, Cedillo) mandating that cities specify in their General Plan where they'll allow homeless and transitional facilities, with zoning allowing sufficient sites for such multi-unit housing either "by right" or a "conditional use permit." The bill also requires a schedule to implement this. The bill has already passed the State Senate -- with a "yes" vote by State Senator Alan Lowenthal. State Senate recorded vote, click here.
SB 1322 failed on a 32-38 vote...but was granted reconsideration, meaning it could resurface until August 31. It is opposed by the League of CA Cities...but to our knowledge has never been discussed publicly by the LB City Council.
On August 28. the Assembly also passed two politically charged bills likely to be vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger (comment: creating an election issue for Democrat Gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides): SB 830 (Kuehl) a single-payer, state government run health-insurance plan and SB 1162 (Cedillo) drivers licenses with a distinguishing mark for those unable to prove lawful status. Assembly Democrats stalled the drivers license bill's advance in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, Cedillo used the "gut and amend" procedure to circumvent them and get the measure to the Assembly floor.
Sen. Cedillo and proponents say the drivers license bill complies with the federal "Real ID" Act (by carrying a mark to distinguish it from drivers licenses acceptable as federal ID). Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza (D., Carson-LB) voted for Cedillo's drivers license measure; Assemblywoman Betty Karnette (D., LB) was recorded "absent, abstained or not voting" (which she's done previously on this issue); State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) voted for the drivers license bill in its pre-gut and amend form (SB 1160). For recorded vote, Aug. 28 Ass'y drivers license vote.
On August 28, the Assembly also passed SB 840 (Kuehl) which would implement a government-run, single payer health insurance system. The bill would effectively do away with the role of private insurance companies, although private medical groups and hospitals would continue to provide care as usual, paid through the state-run system. The must still come back to the State Senate for another vote before heading to the Governor's desk...where it faces an uncertain fate.
A veto by Schwarzenegger (who hasn't yet said what he'll do) would virtually ensure the issue of health care becomes an issue in the November Governor's race. Assemblymembers Karnette and Oropeza voted for the government-run, single payer health insurance bill (as did State Senator Lowenthal when it cleared the Senate in May). (Full Aug. 28 Assembly recorded vote, SB 1322, click here.)
In the midst of all this, at late afternoon Aug. 28, City Hall issued a release indicating that LB Mayor Bob Foster and a "City of Long Beach team" are now in Sacramento "making an end-of-session push to secure key legislation to help attract additional defense work for Boeing and prevent the Long Beach Enterprise Zone (EZ) from going dark."
"I want to put my Sacramento experience to work for the City, and I guarantee that we are doing everything we can to protect the Cityís interest on these and other matters," said Mayor Foster in the release. The release continued:
A key initiative is AB 2731, which would amend and extend existing Joint Strike Fighter tax credits to include a new defense program. The Air Force is expected to release a Request for Proposal (RFP) in January for the next generation aerial refueling aircraft, dubbed the KC-X, to replace its aging tanker fleet. Boeing and a Northrop Grumman/Airbus team are expected to be the principal competitors for the ten-year production program expected to involved 100-125 aircraft.
"Boeing is considering Long Beach, along with other locations, as a possible assembly site for the KC-X tanker," stated Foster. "The assets in Long Beach are well known, and include an available site, a trained and skilled workforce, and certain necessary infrastructure components, such as deepwater port. However, the cost of doing business in California presents an on-going challenge. To be competitive with assembly locations in other states, Boeing has let us know that an incentive package will be necessary."
AB 2731, drafted by the City of Long Beach and carried by Assemblywoman Betty Karnette, extends the existing Joint Strike Fighter tax credits to the KC-X program.
"Considering the recent news about the C-17, we are trying to do whatever we can to make Long Beach more attractive for additional aircraft production and we are lucky to have Mayor Foster leading the charge," stated Gerald Miller, City Manager.
While the City is applying for a re-designation of its Enterprise Zone to help it attract and retain businesses for an additional 15-year period, it is also pushing hard for legislation that would allow the Long Beach EZ to continue to issue tax credits to Long Beach businesses in the six-month period between its current designation and the re-designation. The City drafted language and amended the current EZ bill to prevent a six-month blackout period.
"Our EZ expires in January 2007," said Miller. "We are submitting our application for a new designation and are hopeful that we will be selected. We are concerned that, in the meantime, there will be a period of time between when the existing zone expires and the new zone is designated, and that our businesses will miss out on EZ tax credits. The amendment will help us overcome that issue."
Although the City is well positioned for re-designation, there are some hurdles.
"The competition for re-designation will be fierce," stated Robert Swayze, Manager, Economic Development Bureau. "There may be as many as 40 applicants from cities and counties for 19 available zones. You can never tell what might happen in Sacramento. There has been lots of talk about Long Beach no longer needing an EZ, corporate welfare, and that itís time for other locations to have a chance. We disagree with that talk."