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A bill written by Assemblyman Todd Gloria would let transit agencies across the state propose new taxes for a specific portion of the areas they cover, cleaving off tax-averse areas from both paying the tax and voting to approve it. Plus: Law enforcement loses a round over use-of-force standards, Sen. Toni Atkins endorses Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s secretary of state bid and more.
A new bill by Assemblyman Todd Gloria would make it easier for the Metropolitan Transit System to pass a tax measure to expand public transportation across the region.
The bill, AB 1413, would let transit agencies across the state propose new taxes for a specific portion of the areas they cover, cleaving off tax-averse areas from both paying the tax and voting to approve it.
For MTS, which is already working to put a sales tax for transit on the 2020 ballot, that could mean sectioning off areas like Poway or Santee that voted disproportionally against the region’s last attempt to raise taxes for transportation in 2016. General tax increases require two-thirds voter approval, giving any pocket of no votes the chance to sink a measure.
Previous state legislation written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez gave MTS the ability to collect taxes in the first place. This bill is an effort to expand the scope of that law, said Gloria spokesman Nick Serrano.
“Some jurisdictions want tax increases to expand transit, and others don’t,” he said. “We should have a tool for the jurisdictions that do want it to be able to make that decision for themselves, so they can address specific needs.”
Serrano said they see the measure as a way to spur transportation investments at the local level across the state. As Gloria runs for mayor, he could end up sharing the November 2020 ballot with an MTS measure looking to do just that in San Diego.
Gloria’s office has been talking with MTS about the bill for the last year and half, Serrano said, since it first introduced a similar precursor bill before learning they needed to build more support for the effort.
Rob Schuup, a spokesman for MTS, said the agency is still developing a potential project list for its ballot measure, and will poll the entire area it serves on the popularity of those investments.
“It may turn out that certain areas of our jurisdiction will not be favorable toward a sales tax for transit,” Schupp wrote in an email. “While I believe MTS would prefer a measure that gets support from all areas of its service territory, AB 1413 provides flexibility.”
But it isn’t guaranteed that the bill, if passed, would come in time to make it easier for voters to approve MTS’s measure, Serrano said.
He said it’s possible the change wouldn’t apply to MTS’s measure because MTS has already started working to put something on the ballot.
Last year, intense opposition from law enforcement groups helped beat back Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s bill to change the standards guiding when police can deploy deadly force. Weber and Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins put the bill on a two-year track rather than watch it fail.
This year, law enforcement groups changed tactics. They floated their own alternative bill that essentially would have cemented the status quo. That effort took a big hit this week, when the provisions in the bill related to use-of-force standards were stripped out, and the bill’s fate – now it’s solely about training requirements – was tied to Weber’s effort. If Weber’s bill fails, so does law enforcement’s. The hope is that the latest developments will force the two sides to come together on a plan they can all live with.
“I believe today’s action means that the families who have lost loved ones to police violence have been heard, that their loss matters and that they deserve real change. My commitment to them is that AB 392 will continue to be the vehicle for that change,” Weber said in a statement Tuesday.