from Kevin Pedrotti, Legislative Advocate, Golden State Builders Exchanges
Raucous CARB Meeting
After six hours of testimony from over 80 witnesses, the state Air Resources Board last week signaled it may delay rules aimed at curbing toxic diesel soot from trucks. Despite that possible delay, a majority of the board stated they still expect truckers to eventually replace older rigs or retrofit the dirtiest engines. That would most likely happen in 2014, when the state must startcomplying with more stringent federal clean-air requirements.
The board directed its staff to provide a proposal in April for relaxing compliance deadlines to reflect how the nation’s economic downturn has idled thousands of trucks which has contributedto the prevention of tons of soot from being emitted. Board members also said they won’t enforce any of the first-stage requirements next year until they have reviewed ideas for makingadditional concessions to the battered trucking industry. See CARB’s press release: http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr120909b.htm
Under the current order, which applies to nearly 1 million trucks and buses, owners must change out diesel engines on older vehicles or install anti-pollution devices on newer ones starting in2011. The board directed its staff to come back with an assessment of how to assist the construction industry, which faces stringent soot-reduction rules as well.
Board Member John Telles has been critical of board staff and Chairwoman Mary Nichols for failing to reveal that the lead author of a report on health effects of soot falsely claimed a doctorate in statistics from the University of California at Davis. Hien Tran later confessed that he obtained an online degree from an unaccredited university.
The report Tran assembled blamed particulate matter, or soot, for thousands of premature deaths statewide annually. Telles, a Fresno cardiologist, has not disputed the health dangers of soot. Rather, he has said Tran's misrepresentation of his credentials put a cloud over the board's credibility.
On Tuesday, Nichols admitted to a "mistake in judgment," saying, "I should have shared this information."
Assembly Democrats Select New Speaker
Assemblyman John Pérez made history Thursday when he was unanimously chosen by the Assembly's Democratic Caucus to succeed Karen Bass as the lower house's leader.
Pérez, a freshman lawmaker who is expected to be formally voted in as the 68th Assembly speaker in January, will become the body's first openly gay leader.
Pérez edged out two other Latino Democrats from Los Angeles - Assemblymen Kevin De León and Felipe Fuentes - to secure the position. Fuentes bowed out last week, throwing his support behind Pérez, who was chosen by Bass as her successor. De León - who has had his eye on the post for years - was still fighting for the leadership position, but after several meetings with Pérez this week, including one Thursday morning, decided to close ranks behind him.
With the 50-member Democratic Caucus united behind him - plus the support of the Assembly's one independent - Pérez will easily clear the 41 votes necessary to win the leadership position.
Bass said the Assembly will vote when it returns to session in January, making Pérez the speaker-elect. After that vote, Bass said, Pérez will transition into the speakership and will be sworn in sometime after that.