***See Updates Below***
So after a weekend of frenzied activism to get Arnold to sign AB 3034...the Assembly adjourned for the day without taking action on the bill:
With a veto threat looming, lawmakers on Monday missed a deadline to replace November's $9.9 billion high-speed rail bond ballot measure with a better version.
Or did they?
Rail supporters believe the clock hasn't run out yet.
"We can still get it on the ballot," said Jo Linda Thompson, a lobbyist for the Association for California High Speed Trains. "We are pursuing it with all the energy we can."...
Lawmakers still have until Saturday to add a measure to the ballot, in this case Prop. 1a. The question is whether they could still remove Prop. 1, which will be included on guides mailed to voters that are scheduled to go to print soon.
The Assembly believes that they *do* have that ability, hence the delay. The Secretary of State's office will likely make the final determination, based on their reading of election law.
If it turns out the deadline to replace Prop 1 has passed, the Assembly should kill AB 3034 and go with Prop 1 as it currently exists, rather than add Prop 1A alongside Prop 1. I'm not exactly enthused about telling voters "No on 1, Yes on 1A!" because it's just not going to work.
Still, it's a shame this uncertainty even exists. AB 3034 was proposed months and months ago; it was the topic of the very first post on this blog way back in March. The Legislature had plenty of time to act on it, but the delay - especially in the Senate, by Republicans such as Roy Ashburn - put its proponents up against the wall. Arnold's temper tantrum doesn't help matters.
AB 3034 isn't necessary to high speed rail, of course. Prop 1 is a very good proposal and we strongly support it no matter what happens to AB 3034. It's another depressing reminder of the lack of urgency in our state on not just HSR, but mass transit and dealing with our dependence on expensive oil. I am confident Prop 1 will pass, but it will pass without very many politicians having shown leadership on HSR. Arnold wanted AB 3034 but prefers to throw a tantrum instead of getting it through the Legislature. Our two US Senators have been missing in action while their Nevada colleague gets $45 million to study a maglev system that'll never get built. Their leadership isn't necessary, but it would help reduce annoying problems like this.
So we'll see what happens to AB 3034. The activism we engaged in over the weekend was valuable, and if anything needs to be ramped up to ensure Arnold does support HSR, whether it's through signing AB 3034 or strongly endorsing and campaigning for Prop 1(A). Look for more activism as the general election draws near.
Finally, Speaker Karen Bass' office put out this video about high speed rail. It has some excellent quotes from Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani, author of AB 3034, and it's especially gratifying to see her pushing the the cost of doing nothing is not zero frame I have been articulating since May.
UPDATE 1 - the AP reports Speaker Karen Bass called off the vote because of budget negotiations:
A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, said the session was called off because of budget negotiations.
"The speaker is focused exclusively on the budget today," said Bass spokesman Steve Maviglio. ...
The deadline for listing initiatives in the supplemental voter ballot is Aug. 16, but lawmakers have extended that deadline in the past.
"The governor will continue to work with the Legislature to get the improved high-speed rail language on the ballot," Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said. "There will be one high-speed rail initiative on the ballot, and the governor will be out campaigning for that."
So that clarifies things somewhat. As I explained over at Calitics this morning, the state budget itself is running up against the same ballot deadline we are - and since the budget solution is likely to include a few ballot measures, Speaker Bass chose to prioritize that over AB 3034 - especially if the legislature can itself extend its own deadline.
The quotes in the article, especially the one from Arnold's press flack, are also encouraging. Arnold seems to understand the issue and the need to ensure there's just one HSR prop. And of course it's very encouraging that Arnold will be campaigning for it - I think his term as governor is a failure, but let's face it, it's better to have him arguing for HSR rather than against it.
UPDATE 2 (Tuesday 12:40 PM): Cathleen Galgiani has announced that she will hold AB 3034 and NOT send it to Arnold for signature until a budget is passed. From a press release she sent me:
"I respect the Governor's desire to finalize the budget and urge my colleagues in the Legislature to work out a compromise immediately so we can all move forward on the important issues facing California," stated Galgiani.
"The Assembly is set to take up AB 3034 today and I expect it to pass with resounding support. AB 3034 is essential to Proposition 1 because it implements fiscal controls to ensure that the state bond funds are utilized in the most cost effective and efficient way. However, once it passes, I intend to hold the bill from Governor Schwarzenegger until the budget is finalized to ensure that Proposition 1 remains as strong as possible. With rising gas prices, congested highways and a rising population, Californians need more transportation options than ever."
If AB 3034 is signed by the Governor and sent to the Secretary of State before Saturday, August 16th, (the last day for new measures to be added to the supplemental ballot on November 4th) Proposition 1A - and not Proposition 1 - would appear on the ballot. Proposition 1A's title and summary, legislative analysis and ballot arguments would be in a supplemental ballot pamphlet, and there would also be language included to alert voters.
The short version: Saturday is the new deadline. I am doubtful there'll be a budget by then. But the sooner this is over the better, because it's time to start rolling out public activism for Prop 1(A).