BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 153
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 29, 2009

                                Kevin De Leon, Chair

                     AB 153 (Ma) - As Amended:  January 23, 2009 

          Policy Committee:                               
                        Judiciary                             7-2

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          No     Reimbursable:               


          This bill clarifies the powers and duties of the High-Speed Rail  
          Authority and authorizes the authority to employ its own legal  
          counsel.  Specifically, this bill:

          1)Authorizes the authority to employ its own legal staff and/or  
            to contract with other state agencies for legal services.

          2)Includes the authority as one of several state agencies exempt  
            from provisions requiring property to be acquired for the  
            state to be acquired by the State Public Works Board.

          3)Clarifies that the authority is among those state agencies  
            able to exercise eminent domain authority for property  

          4)Extends the authority's ability to enter into contracts to  
            include contracts for the financing and maintenance of  
            high-speed trains.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          Probably no net state costs, as the authority's legal costs will  
          either be attributed to in-house attorneys or through legal  
          services provided by the Department of Justice (DOJ).  The  
          authority is currently using DOJ attorney services at the  


                                                                  AB 153
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          equivalent of more than one full-time position.  The authority  
          does not expect to seek an in-house attorney position in the  
          short-term, however.


           1)Purpose  .  According to the HSRA (sponsor), with voter approval  
            of Proposition 1A in November 2008, which authorized the  
            issuance of $10 billion in general obligation bonds for  
            high-speed rail, the authority will now begin transitioning  
            into a more traditional state agency. The HSRA anticipates a  
            greater need for legal counsel when, for example, it decides  
            to exercise its eminent domain power to acquire rights-of-way  
            for train tracks, maintenance facilities, storage yards, and  
            related structures. These ongoing activities will only grow in  
            size and complexity, thus necessitating the availability of  
            legal services on a more regular basis.  In addition, current  
            law specifically grants the power authority to acquire  
            rights-of-way through purchase or eminent domain.  This bill  
            clarifies that the authority, similar to other specified  
            agencies, may independently exercise its eminent domain powers  
            rather than having to rely on the Public Works Board to do so.  
             The bill does not alter any statutory requirements related to  
            the exercise of eminent domain by the state.
          2)Related Legislation  .  AB 1375 (Galgiani), pending in Assembly  
            Transportation, reestablishes the HSRA as strictly a  
            policy-making body and establishes a new Department of  
            High-Speed Trains, to be responsible for implementing  
            decisions of the authority.
          3)Prior Legislation  .  The provisions of this bill regarding  
            legal staff were included in AB 981 (Ma) of 2007, but that  
            bill was subsequently amended in the Senate to address an  
            unrelated subject. 

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Chuck Nicol / APPR. / (916) 319-2081