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.
Law Enforcement Loses a Round on Deadly Force Standards
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.
San Diego Odds and Ends
- Weber is also eyeing a reform to how San Diego Unified Board of Education members are elected. Her bill to require the district to move to subdistrict-only elections  is on a two-year track; she hopes the City Council will make the change sooner than that.
- Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s bill to stop gun and ammo sales at the Del Mar Fairgrounds  passed the full Assembly this week, and is on to the state Senate.
- Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins has endorsed Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s 2022 bid for secretary of state.
Golden State News
- California is home to one of the biggest battlegrounds over charter schools, and unions are using President Donald Trump’s support of charters against charter advocates . (Politico)
- This is a horrifying dispatch from Fresno County’s jail system, and it underscores how violent and dangerous county jails across the state have become in the wake of realignment . (ProPublica/Sacramento Bee)
- California cities are giving millions in sales tax collections to major companies like Apple . (Bloomberg Law)
- New court filings shed light on the child cruelty case against Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula . (Fresno Bee)
- San Francisco bet big on parental choice as a great equalizer for schools. It lost the bet . (New York Times)
- The AP, USA Today Network-California, McClatchy and Media News teamed up on a series of stories exploring the increasing dangers posed by California wildfires , and potential solutions.