Southern California Transit Advocates is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion, development and improvement of public transportation in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
Activists have praised Jim Shultz's book Democracy Owners' Manual as a useful guide for people who want to learn how to change public policy at the local, state, national or international level. Stephanie Vance aka the AdVocacy Guru provides tips on effective lobbying of Congress. You can find out who your state and federal legislative representatives are (along with contact information) via the database at this link. The Southern California Association of Goverments has prepared a Legislative Reference Guide on effective advocacy: http://www.scag.ca.gov/publications/pdf/2006/scag06LegRefGuide.pdf
In-depth discussion and presentation of the overall federal legislative process can be found in "How Our Laws are Made" and "Enactment of a Law".
An overview of many aspects of the federal legislative process can be found in The Legislative Process and Tying it All Together.
Also of value are in-depth Congressional Research Service reports on aspects of the House legislative process.
UC Berkeley Library's Congressional Research Tutorials provide instruction on how to find Congressional materials in the Library and on the Internet via a series of Flash videos.
An authoritative and detailed description of California's legislative process is found in California's Legislature (in Acrobat format).
Overviews of the state legislative process are on the websites of the Chief Clerk of the Assembly and the Legislative Counsel.
The following listings of transportation-related legislation are courtesy of Metro's Government Relations Department. and the national advocacy coalition Transportation For America.
To read the text of state legislation, use the bill locator on the California Legislative Information website. Bills in
strikethrough text are dead for the current Legislative session.
SB 1245 (Simitian) would provide that a vehicle that meets the
applicable occupancy level for a High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) for use
of an HOV lane, including a High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane, shall not
be charged a toll. (Passed by the Senate June 2; held without recommendation in the Assembly Transportation Committee.)
SB 1268 (Simitian) would impose restrictions on the data collected
by transportation agencies that operate toll facilities. (Passed by the Senate June 1; passed by the Assembly August 23; concurrence on Assembly amendments approved by the Senate August 25; signed into law by the Governor September 29.)
SB 1299 (Lowenthal) would require the Department of Motor
Vehicles to develop and implement, by January 1, 2012, a pilot program
designed to assess various issues associated with implementing a Vehicle Miles
Traveled (VMT) fee. (Passed by the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee April 14; in suspense file at the Senate Appropriations Committee.)
SB 1320 (Hancock) would extend existing law relative to the adjudication of transit violations to the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (A/C Transit), Foothill Transit, and the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA). (Passed by the Senate May 3; passed by the Assembly August 16; concurrence on Assembly amendments approved by the Senate August 19; signed into law by the Governor September 29.) This bill has been linked to AB 2324.
SB 1341 (Price) would authorize Metro to expand the
existing Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Program to non-federally
funded competitively bid contracts. (Passed by the Senate May 28; passed by the Assembly August 16; concurrence on Assembly amendments approved by the Senate August 25; signed into law by the Governor September 29.)
SB 1348 (Steinberg) would codify a procedure for the California
Transportation Commission (CTC) to adopt legislatively mandated guidelines. (Passed by the Senate June 3; passed by the Assembly August 16; concurrence on Assembly amendments approved by the Senate August 26; vetoed by the Governor September 30.)
AB 1224 (Eng) would revise the implementation dates for
Metro’s ExpressLanes project. (Passed by the Assembly January 27; passed by the Senate August 9; concurrence on Senate amendments approved by the Assembly August 25; signed into law by the Governor September 29.)
AB 2121 (Harkey) would require the California High-Speed Rail Authority to annually adopt a six-year program for submission to the Legislature and the Governor. (Passed by the Assembly June 3; held by the Senate Rules Committee without assignment.)
AB 2324 (Pérez) would create new misdemeanors and recasts fines
and punishments for crimes committed upon public transit vehicle stations. (Passed by the Assembly May 13; passed by the Senate August 25; concurrence on Senate amendments approved by the Assembly August 27; sent to the Governor's desk September 9.) SB 1320 has been linked to this bill.
AB 2620 (Eng) would dedicate an unspecified percentage of net toll
revenues from future toll facilities on the state highway system for maintenance,
reservation, and rehabilitation of the state system. (Passed by the Assembly June 3; passed by the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee June 29 and re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee; withdrawn by author August 2.)
AB 2703 (Pérez) would authorize loans of future federal economic
stimulus funds to advance projects scheduled to be funded from Proposition 1B
infrastructure bonds. (Passed by the Assembly May 20; passed by the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee June 29; withdrawn from the Senate Appropriations Committee August 2 -- amendments made by the author on July 15 now make this a non-appropriations bill; held by the Senate Rules Committee without assignment.)
To read the text of federal legislation, use the bill locator on the Library of Congress' Thomas website.
H.R. 1329 (Blumenauer) / S. 575 (Carper), the Clean, Low-Emission, Affordable, New
Transportation Efficiency (CLEAN-TEA) Act, would set aside 10% of
funds generated from a future cap and trade system and direct those funds to
the transportation sector. (Referred to the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials March 6, 2009; referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works March 11, 2009.)
H.R. 2346 (Obey), the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009, includes a provision that would allow transit agencies to use up to 10 percent of their American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to cover operating costs of "equipment and facilities for use in public transportation." (Signed into law by the President June 24, 2009.)
H.R. 2454 (Waxman), the American Clean Energy and Security Act, includes a provision to allow states to use up to 1% of the funding to invest in transportation projects that reduce greenhouse gases. (Passed by the House June 26, 2009; tied to S. 1733 in the Senate.)
H.R. 2746 (Carnahan) / S. 3189 (Brown), expands the urbanized area formula grants program to include public transit projects, including operating costs, in urbanized areas with a population of at least 200,000. (Referred to the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit June 9, 2009; referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs March 26, 2010.)
H.R. 2521 (DeLauro), the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2009, would facilitate efficient investments and financing of infrastructure projects and new job creation through the establishment of a National Infrastructure Development Bank. (Referred to the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment May 20, 2009.)
H.R. 2724 (Holt), the National Transportation Objectives Act of 2009, would establish national transportation objectives and performance targets for the purpose of assessing progress toward meeting national transportation objectives. (Referred to the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials June 5, 2009.)
H.R. 6150 (Gallegly), would raise the liability cap for passenger rail accidents from $200 million to $500 million. (Referred to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and to the House Judiciary Committee September 16, 2010.)
S. 1341 (Menendez), the Close the SILO/LILO Loophole Act, would attempt
to remove the ability of banks to seek windfall profits on sale-in/lease out
(SILO) and lease-in/lease out (LILO) agreements engaged in by Metro,
Metrolink and other transportation agencies. (Referred to the Senate Finance Committee June 24, 2009.)
S. 1619 (Dodd) / H.R. 4690 (Perlmutter), the Livable Communities Act of 2009, would establish a comprehensive planning grant program and
establish a sustainability challenge grant program. (Released with a substitute amendment by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs August 3, 2010; referred to the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment February 26, 2010.)
S. 1733 (Kerry), the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, would establish of a cap and trade system for greenhouse gas emission allowances and set goals of reducing U.S. emissions. (Introduced February 2, 2010; House version, H.R. 2454, passed June 26, 2009.)
S. 3412 (Dodd) / H.R. 5418 (McMahon), the Public Transportation Preservation Act of 2010, would allow for federal operating subsidies to those transit systems which implemented fare increases or service cutbacks due to the loss of other subsidies. (Referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs May 25, 2010; referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure May 26, 2010.) So.CA.TA has taken a support position on this legislation.
A useful tool to keep up on the state and local issues is the website Rough and Tumble which provides links to policy oriented articles published by newspapers throughout California. The blog L.A. Observed covers politics and culture in Los Angeles. Often the weekly Sacramento News and Review has articles on state government of interest. Destination: Freedom; The newsletter of the National Corridors Initiative is a weekly update on North American rail and transit news:
http://www.nationalcorridors.org/#NEWSLETTER (a tip of the hat to SO.CA.TA member Ken Ruben for bringing this to our attention).
The Dorothy Peyton Grey Transportation Library at Metro compiles "Transportation Headlines" each weekday, a compilation of links to articles (local and national) of interest on transportation issues. Kymberleigh Richards, on her website the Transit Insider, carries current editions in web format.
Transportation Headlines is also distributed via e-mail; to be added to the distribution list sign up at this site.
The MTC Library posts the links of the past week of its e-mail based transportation headlines, compiled from Bay Area newspapers plus a few national ones (Washington Post, L.A. Times): http://www.mtc.ca.gov/news/headlines.htm
Studies in the News is a weekly listing compiled by State Library's Research Bureau and State Information & Reference Center of current policy studies garnering attention in the press that often shape policy debate: http://www.library.ca.gov/CRB/SITN.cfm
Transportation Law in California: A Guide to Federal, State, and Regional Requirements by Jeremy G. March (Solano Press, 2000) is the first complete collection of the most important laws and regulations affecting transportation planning in California. The table of contents is downloadable in Acrobat format; Mr. March can be reached at this e-mail address. Retail price of the book is $50; information on how to order via mail, phone or e-mail is here.
You can research pending federal legislation on the Thomas website and state legislation on the California Legislative Information website.
Resources for federal transportation legislation information include the American Public Transit Association (a trade group) and the California Institute for Federal Policy Research (a public policy analysis non-profit organization).
California Infrastructure Coalition on the resources page of its website has a list of legislative bills involving infrastructure investment plus links to various reports, etc.: http://www.calrac.org/resources/index.html
The websites of Metro and OCTA include pages for their Government Relations Departments which provide information on current state and federal legislative issues for their respective agencies.
The Congressional Research Service is the arm of the Library of Congress that provides impartial research on policy issues to aid Congressional lawmaking. They are held in high esteem for the quality of their analysis. CRS reports have generally not been easily obtainable by the public but now are starting to be posted on the internet. A summary of the CRS report on Transportation Issues in the 108th Congress is posted on the website of the National Council for Science and the Environment with the full report available for download (in Acrobat format).
The Brookings Institution has initiated a series of reports on federal transportration reform:
STPP has launched a new series of research and education briefs, called "Decoding Transportation Policy and Practice." These short papers will educate readers on complex transportation issues, and will often be the first place to learn of STPP's latest research findings. It can be found at http://www.transact.org/library/decoding.asp