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Sacramento Report: What San Diego’s Rail-Connected Future Holds

How lawmakers lobby Gov. Jerry Brown on the bills he hasn’t signed yet, the DA has charged a woman who accused an Assembly candidate of improper behavior with making false statements and more in our weekly roundup of news from Sacramento.

An Amtrak train arrives at Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego. / Photo by Jorg Hackemann, Shutterstock

This week, CalTrans released its 2018 rail plan, a document that outlines the state’s goals over the next 20 years to get more people riding trains, and to improve the safety and efficiency of those trains.

It envisions passenger rail travel increasing “more than tenfold” by 2040.

Goals in the plan involving San Diego include:

  • The plan notes that Santa Fe Depot downtown is “at capacity,” and calls for an analysis of schedules and service levels to facilitate a better situation there, including one that doesn’t require trains to layover there.
  • It envisions improvements that would allow “regular, frequent service” between Los Angeles and San Diego – California’s busiest travel market – by 2027. “The Rail Plan anticipates that service levels will be fully implemented by 2027 in this corridor, and that future long-distance travel between San Diego and the rest of the state will be served by the State’s significant investment in HSR service through the Inland Empire.”
  • Over the long term, the plan envisions connecting San Diego far better with stops near the U.S.-Mexico border, and the Inland Empire, which is where the high-speed rail route will go. It notes that the southern corridor that includes San Diego, “together with the Peninsula blended-service corridor in the Bay Area, is the most critical corridor to design early and strategically.”

How Lawmakers Lobby Brown on Bills

Now that the Legislature is done passing bills for the year, everything comes down to Gov. Jerry Brown.

There are a few different ways lawmakers make their cases to the governor on bills he’s yet to decide on. One way is to make a public plea. That’s what Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez did this week with an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee making the case for a bill to expand loan options for low-income families.

“We call on Gov. Brown to sign AB 237 into law now. It’s time to expand access to larger loans that help borrowers succeed at repayment. And in doing so, California can create a national model for ‘conscientious credit,’” Gonzalez and two others write in the op-ed.

For others, though, lobbying the governor happens long before a bill is even finalized. I asked Assemblyman Todd Gloria whether he has any strategies for making pitches to Brown on his bills. Here’s what he said:

“There’s no secret formula on how to advocate for your bills. I’ve only had one bill vetoed so far, but given I’m the newest member of the delegation, I’m sure my colleagues could teach me a few things. One thing I’ve stressed to my team is to engage with the governor’s office early and often.

My staff sits down with the governor’s office in June and July – while there is still time to amend our bills – to solicit their feedback. And when we get that feedback, we usually take it. Many of the bills we’ve gotten signed have the governor’s fingerprints all over them, and I think that’s a good thing.  While we always use the traditional tools in the toolbox (op-eds, meetings, press conferences and grassroots lobbying to name a few), at the end of the day, the governor is his own man. He is the most experienced governor our state has ever had, and as a result, he is very hands-on. Even with the most lopsided votes, the long list of supporters, and the most powerful editorials, these tools are not enough to overcome the governor’s first-hand experience. I really like his governing style and wish we had more time serving together.”

The Week in Bill Signings

Gov. Jerry Brown signed these measures from San Diego lawmakers into law.

  • AB 2557 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein clarifies rules regarding who can serve as ex officio directors on nonprofit boards of directors.
  • AB 2893 by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron requires the California Health Benefit Review Program to consider a longer data evaluation of fiscal impact on coverage or repeal of a coverage benefit for a period of two fiscal years.
  • AB 2949 by Assemblyman Todd Gloria requires schools to allow children in military families to continue attending, and to attend feeder schools in the district. AB 2894 by Gloria provides college students an additional course of action when they are called to active military duty during an academic term.

Assembly Candidate Accuser Charged With Making False Statements

The San Diego County district attorney has charged a woman who accused former Assembly candidate Phil Graham of forcibly kissing her just before the June primary with making false statements, The Coast News reported this week.

Graham, a Republican, did not advance to the November runoff; instead two Democrats are vying to replace outgoing Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez.

The woman accused Graham of forcibly kissing her at an Encinitas bar. “But variations in her story to different media outlets and a series of restraining orders filed against Burgan in the past that accused her of filing false reports raised doubts about the veracity of her claims,” The Coast News reports.

Golden State News

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