Water bond bill emerges from Senate panel

Amid political maneuvering, an effort to rewrite and downsize the $11.14 billion water bond scheduled for the November ballot has been approved by a key Senate committee.

The bill, AB 1331 by Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, passed its first policy hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday.

Rendon’s $8 billion proposal is one of  half-dozen measures in the Capitol seeking to modify the November water bond, ranging from about $5.1 billion to $9.25 billion.

The Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee amended the bill and sent it to the Environmental Quality committee for another hearing. The measure, with several others, is likely to serve as the basis of negotiations for a compromise bill. 

Unsure whether his AB 1331 would be approved in committee, Rendon earlier crafted an alternative bill with similar provisions that he hoped would serve as sort of an insurance policy and backup in future negotiations.

Committee chair Sen. Fran Pavley (D- Agoura Hills) called Tuesday’s nearly three-hour hearing just “sort of an exercise, if you will,” because Rendon’s back up bill could make new Senate amendments  obsolete.

Rendon told his colleagues in the upper house that the backup bill, AB 2554, was “simply a vehicle for a conversation” and he has no intentions of moving it forward.

“When there is disagreement on substance the process is important,” committee member Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, said during the hearing. Wolk is the author of a major bond-rewrite bill, SB 848, pegged at $6.825 billion, which was earlier approved by three Senate committees.

Polling conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California in November found the bond in its current form would not pass voters.  The measure has been delayed twice before.

The Legislature has until June 26 to agree on a replacement bond for the ballot.

Ed’s Note:  Clarifies 4th graf to show that the committee amended the bill, not the author; notes in 8th graf that Wolk bill already approved by three Senate committees; deletes reference in 2nd graf to committees in both houses. 



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