March 21, 2022
Weideman Group Weekly
Newsom Administration Honors AVTA
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) spearheaded a celebration honoring the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) for becoming the first all-electric transit agency in North America. AVTA, a Weideman Group client, serves the cities of Palmdale, Lancaster, and Northern Los Angeles County, with annual ridership of over three million. AVTA is 18 years ahead of the state mandate that transit agencies have 100% zero-emission bus fleets by 2040. This was achieved with the help of electric buses built by Weideman Group client BYD at its Lancaster Coach and Bus Manufacturing facility. AVTA’s use of wireless inductive charging by Weideman Group client WAVE was also highlighted. CARB Chair Liane M. Randolph (pictured below), Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Caltrans Chief Deputy Secretary Chad Edison, and many others joined the celebration.
Assembly Democrats have unveiled a proposal to give California drivers a $400 rebate amid skyrocketing gas prices. The plan is to provide the rebate to all California taxpayers, regardless of whether they own a vehicle. The rebate is intended to be the equivalent of what Californians will spend on the state’s gas tax if they were to fill up a 15 gallon gas tank once a week for a year. The Governor is expected to unveil his own proposals to help Californians cope with increases in living expenses, which might not be directly aligned with the Assembly proposal. The momentum surrounding the increasing cost of fuel and economic impact those costs are having on Californians suggests that a proposal like this will garner the support it needs to be signed into law.
Following a decision by the California Supreme Court that would have resulted in UC Berkeley having to reject thousands of prospective students, the Legislature fast tracked SB 118 to remedy the court’s action. A local Berkeley group had filed suit to block the planned enrollment increase at UC Berkeley, claiming the increase would affect the city’s environmental ambience – therefore triggering the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). After the Court ruled in favor of the local group’s claim, SB 118 was introduced by State Senator Nancy Skinner (who represents Berkeley). It provides that changes in enrollment do not constitute a project for purposes of CEQA. The passage of the bill ensures prospective students seeking to attend one of the country’s top higher education institutions are not arbitrarily denied that opportunity.
Biden Signs Spending Bill
President Biden signed a $1.5 trillion spending bill. The bill includes $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine, additional monies for educational financial aid, reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and more. What is missing from the package is additional funding to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The spending package will fund the federal government through September.