(August 23, 2006) -- DailyBreeze.com, the website of the southbay Daily Breeze, has published a story that does much to explain why two closely watched bills by LB-area State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) have stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, their final hurdle before reaching the Assembly floor for a final vote.
LBReport.com posts a link to the Daily Breeze story below, with permission [Thank you, Daily Breeze.com].
On August 17, SB 760 (creating a container fee that would help fund port security, clean air projects and rail cargo projects) and SB 764 (establishing port-related air emission baselines for "no net increase" in pollution with growth) were held in the Appropriations Committee by its chair, Judy Chu (D., Monterey Park) despite an end of August deadline looming for final bill passage. The Lowenthal bills aren't dead (yet)...but now require a waiver of the Assembly rules (by majority vote for now) to advance to a floor vote. They've already passed the State Senate.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, in July Senator Lowenthal told a LB hearing conducted by the Ports of LB and L.A. that their draft Clean Air Action Plan was laudable...but needed his proposed container fee (SB 760) for revenue and statutory teeth (SB 764) for enforcement.
Several months ago in Sacramento testimony, Senator Lowenthal called SB 764 the most important bill he's introduced in all his years in the state legislature. In 2004, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed an earlier version of the pollution baseline bill (AB 2042); when Lowenthal was elected to the State Senate, he promptly reintroduced the bill (now SB 764).
The City of Long Beach, by a unanimous vote of the LB City Council, is on record supporting SB 760 and SB 764. The Port of LB now says it's neutral on the Lowenthal bills. In 2004, PoLB rankled several LB Councilmembers by opposing Lowenthal's air pollution baseline bill (which the Council supported) and further inflamed Council-Port relations by urging Gov. Schwarzenegger to veto it (which he did).
Despite the PoLB's professed neutrality on the Lowenthal bills now, in June 2006 the "California Association of Port Authorities," an entity in which the Ports of LB and L.A. are both dues-paying members, testified in opposition to SB 764 in the Assembly Transportation Committee.
LBReport.com has also obtained a copy of an August 8 letter from the California Trade Coalition -- which lists the "CA Ass'n of Port Authorities" on its letterhead -- opposing SB 760. The current president of the "CA Ass'n of Port Authorities" (a rotating position) is Port of LB Executive Director Richard Steinke (until Sept 06).
During an August 22, 2006 budget presentation to the LB City Council, LB Harbor Commission president James C. Hankla offered a refinement to the Port of LB's position. He indicated that the Port of LB would like to support Senator Lowenthal's container fee bill...if it included the Port of Oakland (not just the Ports of LB and L.A.).
All of this comes as the Ports of LB and L.A., Governor Schwarzenegger and a number of state lawmakers are pushing voters to approve a November 2006 bond measure that could provide the Ports of LB & L.A. with an infusion of funds to expand port infrastructure and expand their capacity.
In July 2006, Sen. Lowenthal indicated he supported the Port expansion bond measure...adding that his two bills were needed for funding and enforcement.
[Comment: On August 22, LBReport.com editorially urged opposition to the port expansion bond measure if SB 760 and SB 764 aren't in place to protect the public. ("No bills, no bonds.")]
To view the DailyBreeze.com report, click on the following link (posted with their permission, thank you):
Daily Breeze: "South Bay Activists Angered by Stalled Bills".