In early 2009, the United States Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to provide federal funds to states for economic stimulus projects, of which transportation was one. Under ARRA, federal stimulus funds made available for highway infrastructure investment will remain available until September 30, 2020, and may be used for projects eligible under the federal Surface Transportation Program. In selecting projects, ARRA provides that priority shall be given to projects that are projected to be completed within a three-year time frame and are located within economically distressed areas of the state. ARRA designates that $77 million be made available for transportation enhancement activities, as defined in federal law. The transportation enhancement program has 12 categories of eligible activities, including bicycle and pedestrian projects, landscaping, and historic preservation. ARRA provides that 70% of stimulus funds are provided to the state, which would be administered by the Department of Transportation, and 30% of federal funds would be suballocated within the state in accordance with the formula established by the Surface Transportation Program such that 62.5% of funds are suballocated to regional transportation agencies on the basis of population and 37.5% are made available to the state. Of the 70% of funds made available to the state, state law provides that federal funding would be allocated first to the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) and, if funds remain available, second to the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The specific allocation between SHOPP and STIP is determined by the California Transportation Commission. On March 11th, the Commission established a baseline allocation of $625 million in ARRA funds for SHOPP projects. California has $2.6 billion available from ARRA for highways and streets, and $1 billion available for transit projects. Competitive programs within the ARRA could provide nearly $300 million in additional funding. Federal funding for 675 highways and local street projects have been federally obligated and 222 projects have been awarded. California , at the time of this writing, is in the process of securing high-speed and intercity passenger rail funding. AB 20XXX (Bass), Chapter 21, Statutes of 2009-10, Third Extraordinary Session, changes how ARRA funds for highway infrastructure investment are distributed to the regions and to the state in order to facilitate the timely expenditure of federal funds under deadlines established by ARRA, provides a significant spending boost to the State Highway and Operation Protection Program to provide short-term loans to eligible Proposition 1B projects halted due to delayed bond sales, and ensures geographic balance such that transportation improvements and job creation occur in all regions of the state.
Other significant transportation legislation included SB 83 (Hancock) allowing county transportation planning agencies to ask voters to impose a $10 vehicle registration fee for transportation-related projects and programs; SB 95 (Corbett) enacting the California Car Buyers’ Protection Act of 2009 which is intended to require to pay-off car liens before trading or selling the vehicles so consumers are not stuck with two car payments to ensure the consumer is protected; SB 159 (Simitian) and SB 240 (Wright) making permanent the “move over” law which prescribes, until 2010, actions that drivers must take on a freeway when passing a stopped emergency vehicle or tow truck with its warning lights flashing; SB 391 (Liu) requiring the Department of Transportation to update its state transportation plan by December 31, 2015, and every five years thereafter, and requiring that the plan address how the state will meet the transportation infrastructure and mobility needs of California and attain air pollutions standards required by federal and state law, and achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions needed from the transportation sector; SB 424 (Padilla) regulating actions that vehicle manufacturers may take with regard to their franchised dealers, and allows franchisees that have contracts terminated because of a manufacturer’s or distributor’s bankruptcy to continue to sell new cars in their inventory for up to six months; SB 527 (Kehoe) allowing a person to operate a bicycle on a highway that does not have a seat, provided the bicycle was specifically designed by the manufacturer to be ridden without a seat; SB 783 (Ashburn) requiring the High Speed Rail Authority to prepare, publish, and adopt a business plan by January 1, 2012, and every two years thereafter; SB 7XXX (Ducheny) provides the necessary statutory changes to implement adjustments to the 2008 Budget Act and implement the 2009 Budget Act in the area of transportation/general fund relief from transit revenues, transportation related tribal gaming revenues, and payment of transportation related general obligation bonds; AB 62 (Portantino) allowing a person to drive a motor vehicle if a video screen displaying a video signal or television broadcast is operating in the front seat area, under specified conditions; AB 134 (Blakeslee) making parents responsible for illegal operation of off-highway vehicles by children under 14; AB 144 (Ma) providing cities and counties with greater authority to cite disabled parking offenses with civil parking citations; AB 166 (Lieu) establishing a pilot program that allows the sale of surrendered recreational vehicles prior to their potential or eventual abandonment; AB 254 (Jeffries) establishing the circumstances under which an authorized emergency vehicle is exempt from paying toll on a tolled facility; AB 286 (Salas) extending until 2018 the sunset date on the law allowing counties to impose a $1 vehicle registration fee to fund vehicle theft protection; AB 318 (Emmerson) permitting the Bureau of Automotive Repair to charge a vehicle owner who applies to participate in a vehicle registration amnesty program a fee of $160 for each inspection conducted by a referee station as required by the amnesty program; AB 425 (Cook) exempting, beginning January 1, 2011, members of the California National Guard and the United States Armed Forces from the fee for reinstating the registration of a vehicle, if the cancellation of the vehicle registration occurred while the service member was on active duty outside of California during a time of war; AB 463 (Tran) allowing the California Highway Patrol to issue a license to a transporter of hazardous materials after the licensee has failed an inspection, provided that the licensee has corrected the reason for the failure; AB 561 (Carter) providing that a misdemeanor assault or battery on a highway worker, is subject to the same enhanced penalties as an assault or battery on a Caltrans highway worker or Caltrans contractor; AB 628 (Block) allowing the use of “pay-by-plate” license plate identification recognition technology to accept payment of tolls. This technology allows toll authorization the ability to charge and collect tolls using digital images of license plates; AB 636 (Jones) placing new restrictions and requirements on the operations of charter-party carriers in response to a bus accident in Colusa County killing 11 people and injuring about 40 others on October 5, 2008; AB 647 (Yamada) requiring the Department of Motor Vehicles to comply fully with the federal law creating and governing the National Motor Vehicle Title Information Service; AB 672 (Bass) authorizing letters of no prejudice for certain bond-funded transportation projects for which bond funding is not yet available, thereby enabling projects to advance in the meantime using other funds; AB 729 (Evans) extending the authority of transit agencies to enter into design-build contracts until January 1, 2015; AB 798 (Nava) establishing the California Transportation Financing Authority to assist transportation agencies in obtaining financing primarily through issuing bonds backed by specified sources of revenue, to develop transportation projects; AB 805 (Fuentes) requiring the Department of Motor Vehicles to investigate thoroughly all the information contained in an application for a license submitted by an automobile dismantler; AB 892 (Furutani) providing that returned or unspent funds from an obligated contract received by a local agency under the Goods Movement Emission Reduction Program may either be awarded to fund other equipment projects included on the same competitively ranked list approved by the Air Resources Board pursuant to the grant agreement, or be returned to the Board for reallocation to other projects in the same source category in the same trade corridor; AB 951 (Lieu) increasing the range of various fines the Public Utilities Commission can impose on charter-party carriers who knowingly violate state laws and Commission regulations; AB 1175 (Torlakson) adding the Antioch and Dumbarton bridges to the Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Program and grants authorization for voter-approved toll increases; AB 1179 (Jones) enhancing the required content of the Auto Body Repair Consumer Bill of Rights to inform auto insurance consumers that their rights, with respect to the repair of their own vehicles, includes obtaining their own independent auto body repair estimate, even if the repair involves an insurer, and the insurer has provided an estimate of damage assessment; AB 1200 (Hayashi) revising and recasting California’s auto repair anti-steering law duties, obligations and allowed conduct for insurance companies, relative to consumers and other parties in the claims settlement process; AB 1203 (Ma) requiring the Controller, upon receiving a list of eligible projects from the California Emergency Management Agency, to allocate funds to the regional water borne public transit agency directly and not on a reimbursement basis; AB 1464 (Smyth) permitting and providing guidance for the Department of Transportation to establish a process for identifying and promoting bicycle routes of national, state, or regional significance; AB 1515 (Eng) requiring that by January 1, 2012, the Department of Motor Vehicles develop a mandatory Electronic Lien and Title program; and AB 10XXXX (Assembly Budget Committee) making the necessary statutory changes to the 2008-09 and 2009-10 Budget Act concerning transportation by (1) directing transit revenues to bond debt payments, (2) extending the period for which cities can encumber bond funds appropriated in the 2008-09 Budget Act to June 30, 2010, (3) suspending the grants to local general aviation airports in 2009-10, and (4) increasing the basic driver’s license fee by $2, to $30, and increasing other driver’s license/identification fees by $2.
Vetoed transportation legislation of note included SB 201 (Oropeza) which would have imposed a penalty on the legal vehicle owner and clarifies impoundment procedures for the release of an illegally operated and unlicensed (so-called bandit taxi) cab to a registered vehicle owner who is not licensed to operate a taxi; SB 545 (Cedillo) which would have prohibited the Interstate 710 freeway closure project from being built as a surface or above-grade highway; SB 811 (DeSaulnier) which would have required the Department of Motor Vehicles to register specialty built vehicles (kit cars) previously registered outside California that apply for registration in California using the model year of the calendar year the vehicle was first registered; AB 725 (Jones) which would have extended the sunset date for California’s Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program to January 1, 2016, and would have renamed the program the Martha Escutia and Jackie Speier Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program; AB 733 (Galgiani) which would have made the number of jobs created in California a criterion for awarding contracts to suppliers of equipment to the High-Speed Rail Authority; AB 823 (Hill) which would have increased the maximum income eligibility level from 200% to 225% of the federal poverty level for low-income motor vehicle owners who may request vehicle repair consumer funding assistance; and AB 882 (Fuller) which would have allowed the Department of Transportation to erect up to 24 signs per year, with no more than two signs in each of the Department’s districts, in memory of non-driving-under-the-influence accident victims to read “Please Drive Safely - In Memory of (victim’s name);” AB 1158 (Hayashi) which would have added, to the existing list of transit village characteristics, educational facilities and other land uses that link people traveling to and from schools, community colleges, and universities; AB 1336 (Eng) which would have allowed a local public agency to issue parking citations for violation of street sweeping parking restrictions based on digital photographs collected by an automatic parking enforcement system installed on street sweepers; and AB 1527 (Lieu) which would have required the Air Resources Board to revise project guidelines for specified emission reduction programs by January 1, 2011 to allow certain federal and state funds to be used on a project without being factored into criteria emission reduction cost-effectiveness calculations.