Orange County Branch Newsletter
Government Relations Update
ASCE Region 9 Legislative Fly-In 2015
By: Elizabeth Ruedas
May 13th, 2015 was a particularly eventful day for participants of the ASCE Region 9 Legislative Fly-In. The State Fly-In is an annual event devoted to the education of current and local policy that ASCE supports. Participants have the opportunity to learn about current issues, meet with their local elected officials, make long-lasting connections, and learn about the political process at this intensive one-day program. This year’s talking points included the California Infrastructure Report Card (and mobile application), infrastructure, sustainability, public private partnerships, the high speed rail, STEM, and current legislation.
Our day hit the ground running at around 2:00AM, as we got ready for our 5:35AM flight. Upon arrival, we were welcomed by Region 9 Director, Jay Higgins. Subsequently, Richard Markuson provided an overview of the legislative process and a quick summary of the bills that we would be focusing on, which included SB 16 (Beall), SB 20 (Pavley), AB 194 (Frazier), and ACA 4 (Frazier).
SB 16 (Beall) is essentially a temporary funding plan that would address the maintenance costs of our aging infrastructure. This bill proposes to increase the tax on gasoline by $0.10 per gallon and $0.12 per gallon for diesel fuel. SB 20 (Pavley) aims to have well log reports available to the public. This bill speaks to various security concerns raised by the Department of Water Resources and California’s official homeland security agency. AB 194 (Frazier) gives California Transportation Commission the ability to empower regional transportation agencies to develop/operate high-occupancy toll lanes, which effectively streamlines the overall process. Lastly, ACA 4 (Frazier) focuses on lowering the required voter threshold from 2/3 to 55% for the passage of local sales taxes that would be dedicated to transportation related projects.
A brief Q&A session followed, as we anxiously awaited Senator Anthony Cannella’s arrival. Cannella, a professional civil engineer and a politician currently serving the California State Senate, explained how his political career came about. He also described how his prior engineering experience affects all of his decisions as a politician. His problem solving skills, for example, play a significant role in the way he votes and handles issues.
To help us prepare for our legislative visits later that afternoon, Maria Matthews, ASCE’s manager of state government relations, gave an informative presentation on “Public Relations and Communicating with Legislators.” Maria’s presentation was followed by lunch and later, a group photograph in front of the Capitol building. The time afterwards was devoted to preparing for the appointments with our local elected officials. During these meetings, we had the opportunity to ask for their support on the bills previously mentioned and also to explain that we were there for support and as a point of reference, should they have any questions.
Those of us who finished up a little early, were able to take a tour of the Capitol building, which brought even more enjoyment to an already action-packed day. An informal gathering at the Hyatt Regency Lobby concluded the event.
Special thanks to those who organized, led, sponsored and attended the ASCE Region 9 Legislative Fly-In! Please see below for a couple of photos from the event.
Interested in getting involved with the Government Relations Committee? If so, please contact [email protected].