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Governor Signs Bills To Boost Transit, Protect Rivers

Orin Zebest / Flickr
 

Orin Zebest / Flickr

Along with signing high-profile bills that regulate California's medical marijuana industry, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday approved several dozen other key measures that have nothing to do with cannabis.

Among them is SB 9, a measure by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, designed to speed up construction of regional mass transit projects, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“California’s big innovative mass transit projects, such as the BART extension to San Jose, will have less red tape to deal with and be able to shave years off their completion dates because of SB 9,’’ Beall, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, said in a news release. “This bill will get these projects off the drawing boards and make them a reality faster so we can get more cars off the roads.’’
 
Eligible projects would be funded under the state's Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program. The measure, he added, would give regional transit agencies "a new level of financial certainty for long-term projects."

Another bill signed by Brown, SB 637, will prohibit environmentally-hazardous suction dredge mining in rivers and streams. It was authored by Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica.

“This is a great victory for all of us concerned about clean water and healthy fisheries,” Elizabeth Martin of The Sierra Fund said in a press release. The Sierra Fund sponsored the bill. 

It requires small-scale miners using motorized suction pumps to obtain a permit from the State Water Resources Control Board before mining in California waterways.

A third bill signed by the governor, AB 302, requires public schools to provide teenage mothers with a safe, private location to breast feed or pump milk. The bill was authored by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens.

Along with signing many pieces of legislation, Brown vetoed 20 bills on Friday. They include several that sought to reform the state’s Public Utilities Commission. He also rejected a bill that called for creation of a statewide Ethnic Studies curriculum. In his veto message, Brown said a state panel is working on a similar effort.