There is always tension between local government and the impact statewide policies have on cities ability to make decisions reflective of local priorities. This year, in the area of transportation, communications and public works (TCPW), there are a number of positive bills for cities that acknowledge the ways in which local government serves residents.
After the passage of SB 1 in 2017, which doubled the amount of transportation funding for cities across the state, a trend has emerged in certain issue areas, but definitely not all, where the Legislature is recognizing the critical role cities have in improving safety and technology in transportation, communications, and emergency situations. The League is supporting the following bills:
AB 87 (Ting) Autonomous Vehicles
. This bill would codify regulations adopted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles that require manufacturers of autonomous vehicles to provide local authorities where testing is taking place; a list of all the roads being tested on, the days and times of testing, the number of vehicles being tested, and the contact information for a manufacturer. The bill would also codify the regulation requiring manufacturers to provide law enforcement with a law enforcement action plan detailing how to interact with such vehicles in any emergency or traffic incident. The bill has been referred to the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.
AB 2363 (Friedman) Vehicles. Speed Laws.
This bill would allow local governments and the California Department of Transportation to consider the potential for and/or frequency of traffic collisions resulting in death or injury as additional survey criteria for lowering speed limits by an additional five miles per hour. This bill has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations committee.
AB 2418 (Mullin) Transportation. Emerging Transportation Technologies. California Smart Cities Challenge Grant Program.
This bill would establish the California Smart City Challenge Grant Program in the State General Fund for municipalities to compete for grant funding for emerging transportation technologies that promote congestion reduction, traveler safety, achieving environmental and climate change goals, mobility enhancement, connection of underserved communities, economic vitality, private investment, and innovation. This measure will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 2.
AB 1959 (Wood) Telecommunications. Universal Service Programs.
This bill would extend the State’s universal service and telecommunications programs that help support rural Californian’s access to affordable advanced communication services. Specifically, the bill would extend the sunset date for both the California High-Cost Fund-A (CHCF-A) and California High-Cost Fund-B (CHCF-B) in order to continue to provide affordable basic telephone service to rural California. The programs subsidize small independent telephone companies and large telephone corporations to provide service in rural and smaller metropolitan communities. This measure will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 2.
SB 833 (McGuire) Emergency Alerts. Evacuation Orders. Operators.
This bill would require the California Office of Emergency Services to ensure each city and county office of emergency management is a registered federal Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) operator and has all the software, hardware, and training to operate that system. The bill would also require “Red Alerts” for evacuations. This bill is on the Assembly Appropriations Suspense File.
AB 2249 (Cooley) Public Contracts. Local Agencies. Alternative Procedure.
This bill would increase the dollar threshold for when certain construction projects have to go out to bid and when alternate bidding procedures apply. Specifically, the bill would codify the California Uniform Cost Accounting Commission recommendation to increase the no-bid cap from $45,000–$60,000, the informal bid level for projects between $45,000–$175,000 to a new range of $60,000–$200,000, and formal bidding procedures for anything above $200,000. This bill has been sent to the Senate.
The League will continue to work with the Legislature to demonstrate that the well-being of California and its residents is much better off when the state works in collaboration with its cities.
With the emergence of new technologies, economies, and challenges, cities will continue to be the first level of government that can ensure success in dealing with these issues. Enhancing the tools and preserving the authority for local governments to effectively manage these immediate challenges is key in moving California forward.