Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Could fixing California roads be environmental benefit?

Vehicles drive through potholes and cracks in the street along Auburn Blvd. between Watt Ave. and Orange Grove St. in Sacramento on May 26, 2005.
Vehicles drive through potholes and cracks in the street along Auburn Blvd. between Watt Ave. and Orange Grove St. in Sacramento on May 26, 2005. The Sacramento Bee file

A special legislative session called last year to address billions of dollars’ worth of backlogged repairs to state and local roads has yet to get out of the garage. Among the many reasons that lawmakers so far have failed to pass a funding plan – despite widespread agreement on the importance of the issue – were differences over cap-and-trade money.

Republicans pitched tapping revenue from the program, which is set aside to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because better roads would improve the flow of traffic and thus time spent driving – an approach that Gov. Jerry Brown ultimately adopted. But it landed flatter than a dead battery with Democrats; Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said it was “not a serious proposal.”

With cap-and-trade funds sitting idle, perhaps the National Center for Sustainable Transportation can give the idea a jump start. The research consortium, led by the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, is holding a briefing on how to build and maintain roads that “last longer, cost less, and perform better from a greenhouse emission standpoint,” noon in Room 200 of the Legislative Office Building.

BACK TO SCHOOL : One of the issues Kamala Harris has focused on during her tenure as attorney general is elementary school truancy, pointing to evidence that young students who frequently miss class are more likely to fall behind and commit crimes later in life. Michael Gottfried, an education professor at UC Santa Barbara who is partnering with Harris to develop strategies to reduce truancy, will discuss early results from a pilot study he is conducting, 11:30 a.m. at the UC Center Sacramento on K Street.

ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND POLITICS: Ahead of a potential gubernatorial run in 2018, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer has been making the rounds across California and widening his repertoire of issues. His Fair Shake Commission on Income Inequality and Middle Class Opportunity, a project to develop policy proposals for bills and ballot measures, gathers today in Oakland, this time with a focus on affordable housing. Former Rep. George Miller, the East Bay Democrat who served in Congress for 40 years before retiring in 2014, is among those participating in the meeting, which will be moderated by former state finance director Ana Matosantos.

THE GREEN MILE: Will the environment get another shot as a legislative priority once Anthony Rendon takes over as Assembly Speaker? He joins de León, who was behind last year’s highly contentious climate change bill SB 350, at a conference on green infrastructure today in South Gate where both will deliver keynote remarks. The event – hosted by the Coastal Conservancy, the Council for Watershed Health, the Trust for Public Land and the Los Angeles Board of Public Works – also features Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, in roundtable discussions.

TRACK ‘EM: Who is your state legislator, what bills is (s)he carrying and where does (s)he get money? Find out with our Track the Legislature feature.


Highlights from Gov. Jerry Brown's 2016 State of the State address.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who turns 65 on Sunday, and to Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who turns 71 on Sunday.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff