BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 153
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   March 23, 2009

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION
                                   Mike Eng, Chair
                    AB 153 (Ma) - As Introduced:  January 23, 2009
           
          SUBJECT  :  High-Speed Rail Authority

           SUMMARY  :  Makes various technical changes that clarify and  
          update the governance of the California High-Speed Rail  
          Authority (Authority).  Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Deletes obsolete language and updates the authorization of the  
            Authority relative to the legislative appropriation of funds  
            required to prepare plans for the high-speed train system.  

          2)Removes obsolete language and clarifies that the Authority can  
            enter into contracts to implement the project, something that  
            they already are doing.  

          3)Adds a technical, clarifying cross reference to provisions  
            dealing with eminent domain, stating that in the case of any  
            eminent domain proceedings for the (future) acquisition of  
            right-of-way for the high-speed train system, the reference to  
            "governing body" of the Authority means the Board of the  
            Authority.  

          4)Adds language permitting the Authority to employ legal counsel  
            on its staff or contract with other state agencies for legal  
            services.  (The same provision exists for the California  
            Transportation Commission (CTC) in Government Code Section  
            14513).  

          5)Updates and clarifies the types of contracts the Authority may  
            enter into with public agencies and private entities to  
            implement the high-speed train project.  

           EXISTING LAW  : 

          1)Enacts the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act  
            for the 21st Century (High-Speed Rail Bond Act).  The  
            High-Speed Rail Bond Act, approved as Proposition 1A in  
            November 2008, provides $9.95 billion in general obligation  
            bond authority to fund the planning and construction of a  
            high-speed passenger train system and complementary  








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            improvements to other specified rail systems in the state.  Up  
            to 10 % of the bond money ($900 million) may be used for  
            environmental review and preliminary engineering and design,  
            while 2.5 % of the funds ($225 million) may be used for  
            administrative costs.  

          2)Establishes the Authority and charges it with the planning,  
            designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining a  
            state-of-the-art high-speed train system for California.  The  
            Authority consists of a nine-member board (five appointed by  
            the Governor, two appointed by the Senate Rules Committee, and  
            two by the Speaker of the Assembly).  

          3)Authorizes, through enactment of the American Recovery and  
            Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the recently enacted federal  
            economic stimulus package), $8 billion for high-speed rail  
            passenger services throughout the nation.  Also, the federal  
            stimulus package provides additional intercity and commuter  
            rail passenger discretionary funding that potentially could  
            benefit the state.  

          4)Authorizes, through the passage of Proposition 1B in November,  
            2006, $100 million for high priority highway-railroad at-grade  
            separation projects to be selected by the CTC in consultation  
            with the Authority.  

          5)Requires the Authority to prepare and publish a revised  
            business plan by September 1, 2008.  

          6)Prohibits a state agency from employing legal counsel other  
            than the Attorney General unless there is specific statute  
            authorizing such employment.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown

           COMMENTS  :  This bill is similar to AB 981 (Ma) of 2007, as  
          passed by the Assembly.  While in the Senate, AB 981 was amended  
          to delete the provisions related to the Authority.  

          The proposed statewide high-speed rail passenger train system  
          stretches from San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento in the  
          north -- with service to the Central Valley -- to Los Angeles  
          and San Diego in the south.  With bullet trains operating at  
          speeds up to 200 mph, proponents indicate that the express  
          travel time from downtown San Francisco to Los Angeles will be  








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          about 2  hours.  Upon completion, intercity travelers (trips  
          between metropolitan regions) along with longer-distance  
          commuters would enjoy the benefits of a system designed to  
          connect with existing rail, air, and highway systems.  

          According to the sponsor, "the Authority was established by the  
          Legislature pursuant to SB 1420 (Kopp), Chapter 796, Statutes of  
          1996, as the successor agency to the California Intercity  
          High-Speed Rail Commission.  The Authority is  
          statutorily-mandated to "direct the development and  
          implementation of intercity high-speed rail service that is  
          fully coordinated with other public transportation services and  
          prepare a plan for the construction and operation of a  
          high-speed train network for the state?"  

          The Authority prepared and released in 2005, an Implementation  
          Plan to serve as a blueprint for building the high-speed train  
          system in California.  In November 2005, the Authority certified  

          the completed statewide program-level environmental impact  
          report/environmental impact statement (EIR/EIS) and the Federal  
          Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Record of Decision,  
          paving the way for implementation of the project.  In November  
          2009, the Authority released an update to their Final Business  
          Plan and began the environmental process in cooperation with the  
          FRA.  

          The 2006-07 Budget Act provided $14.3 million to the Authority  
          to begin implementation of the high-speed train, including the  
          completion of a financial plan, the commencement of  
          site-specific environmental work, right-of-way acquisition,  
          identification of necessary grade separations, completion of the  
          draft EIR/EIS for the Northern Mountain Crossing into the San  
          Francisco Bay Area, visual simulations and public education,  
          beginning of detailed project design and project management.   
          For the current year, according to the Legislative Analysts  
          Office, the Authority will spend about $45 million on consulting  
          services.  For the next fiscal year, the Authority will be  
          expending about $123 million.  

          This bill makes a number of technical and clarifying changes to  
          the statutes governing the powers and duties of the Authority.   
          It authorizes the Authority to employ its own legal staff, or to  
          contract with other state agencies for legal services, in lieu  
          of using the Attorney General's Office for representation in  








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          legal proceedings.  Further, the bill makes a technical cross  
          reference in provisions related to the acquisition of  
          right-of-way as well as clarifies the Authority's conferred  
          powers for its use of eminent domain.  Lastly, this bill updates  
          several provisions pertaining to the Authority's contractual  
          authority with private entities.  Many of these changes are  
          consistent with the provisions of Proposition 1A, the High-Speed  
          Rail Bond Act, as passed by the statewide voters in November,  
          2008, and also facilitate the planning and designing of the  
          individual high-speed rail segments.  

          Currently, there are other bills being considered by the  
          Legislature as identified below.  At some point, this bill will  
          need to be reconciled with them.  

           Related bills this year  :  AB 1375 (Galgiani) would create the  
          Department of High-Speed Trains within the Business,  
          Transportation and Housing Agency (BT&HA).  That department  
          would be conferred eminent domain and legal counsel authority as  
          contemplated by this bill.  That bill is currently in the  
          Assembly Rules Committee.  

          SB 409 (Ducheny) would create the Department of Railroads in the  
          BT&HA.  Among other provisions of that bill, it would provide  
          that the department would be the only state agency eligible to  
          apply for and receive grant and loan funds from the federal  
          government for intercity rail, high-speed rail, or freight rail  
          purposes.  That bill is in the Senate Transportation and Housing  
          Committee.  Further, SB 409 was introduced in advance of the  
          California Research Bureau rail consolidation study as required  
          by SB 53 (Ducheny), Chapter 612, Statutes of 2008, due May 1,  
          2009.  

          SB 455 (Lowenthal) among its other provisions, would clarify the  
          Authority's right-of-way acquisition powers.  That bill is  
          currently in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.  

           Double referral  :  This bill has also been referred to the  
          Assembly Judiciary Committee.   
           
           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :  

           Support 
           
          High-Speed Rail Authority (sponsor)








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          American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees,  
          AFL-CIO

           Opposition 
           
          None on file
           

          Analysis Prepared by  :   Ed Imai / TRANS. / (916) 319-2093