Fresno Lawmaker’s Remake of Valley Air Board is Dead, Road Tax Proposal in Jeopardy
An attempt by Joaquin Arambula to reform the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District failed to advance out of state Assembly committee on Wednesday.
Arambula, D-Fresno, proposed AB 650, which would add four members to the board to represent specific constituencies. But he could not convince any of colleagues on the Democratic-controlled Assembly Committee on Local Government to even make a motion for approval.
After Arambula presented the bill, there was awkward silence on the committee for a minute. The committee chair, Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Yolo County, declared the bill dead.
“I appreciate that I was able to present AB 650 but, unfortunately, could not persuade the committee to move it forward, despite the strong voices of the fierce advocates who fought for it. I am profoundly grateful to the advocates for supporting both bills aimed at improving the health and lives of so many Central Valley families. We will keep fighting for transparency and democracy and equity,” Arambula told GV Wire after the hearing.
No Support from Committee
During the hearing, Arambula said AB 650 would “restore the community’s faith in the district’s governance.”
The bill would expand the 15-member board to 19, adding a Native American representative, a youth representative, and two members representing social or environmental justice issues.
All four would be appointed by the governor, which concerned current committee members. That would result in six of the 15 members being appointed by the governor. The remainder are of elected city council or county supervisors from the Central Valley.
“The people who I want to make the rules that regard my life should be the people that I vote for. And so that’s why I cannot support this today, is because I want elected members — and it already has appointed members, but it would be the highest in the entire state (with non-elected members) of all the air quality management districts, ” said Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, D-Suisun City, who was born and raised in Fresno.
Arambula also cited problems with the district’s emission reduction credit program, which he said violated federal and state laws.
“You have an enforcement problem. You don’t have … a board composition problem,” Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner, D-Encinitas, said.
A Loss After Wins on Similar Bills
The legislative loss follows wins from Arambula to establish or reform other local boards, including the San Joaquin River Conservancy Board, and an independent committee to redistrict the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.
Another similar pending bill, AB 558 which would reform the Measure C transportation tax committee, was scheduled to be heard by the Local Government committee also on Wednesday. However, it was pulled from the agenda earlier in the week.
Related Story: Measure C Supporters Blast Arambula Plan to Change Transportation Board
Arambula’s office said the bill was held by committee chair Aguiar-Curry.
“I’m deeply disappointed that AB 558 wasn’t even given a hearing in the Local Government Committee,” Arambula said.
Aguiar-Curry’s office did not respond to a request for comment.