Amendments Put Balance in Former Job Killer Bill

Legislation that began as a targeted mandate increasing transportation costs has been amended at the urging of the California Chamber of Commerce and its allies to strike a balance between meeting the state’s ambitious climate change goals and ensuring continued economic vitality.

In response to the May 1 amendments to SB 44 (Skinner; D-Berkeley), the CalChamber has removed the job killer tag and now supports the bill.

Before the amendments, SB 44 would have had a severe impact on transportation costs by directing the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop a strategy to reduce all motor vehicle emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 by disproportionally targeting diesel medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

SB 44 also threatened jobs by requiring an immediate strategy for reducing the number of diesel vehicles without sufficient alternate technology.

Amended Bill

Now, SB 44 requires CARB to identify policies and practices that will help trucking companies meet standards for reducing greenhouse gas and other emissions.

CARB must first consult with the Department of Transportation, the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to develop recommended goals and be consistent with the state’s Sustainable Freight Action Plan.

The bill also requires CARB to identify advantages to fleets for early adoption.

The Sustainable Freight Action Plan outlines a path to modernizing and reducing emissions in California’s freight transport system. State transportation and environmental agencies issued the plan in July 2016.

The plan has been promoted by the state as being the start of a process that is to give industry stakeholders an opportunity to help define California’s goals.

SB 44 is scheduled to be considered on May 13 by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Related Bill

The amended SB 44 aligns with CalChamber-supported legislation that encourages the development of new technology, AB 1262 (O’Donnell; D-Long Beach), which was sent to the Suspense File on May 8 in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

California’s freight sector is at a competitive disadvantage when compared to other states, with some of the highest costs in the nation.

AB 1262 seeks to take a comprehensive, long-term examination of the barriers that have, to date, caused a delay in adoption of new freight technology.

As part of the update, state agencies are required to consider a plan for freight efficiency, transitions to zero-emissions technology, and increased competitiveness. These considerations will be included in an update to the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan in 2021.

The bill also seeks to evaluate policies that might drive faster reductions to reduce air quality impacts in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Staff Contact: Leah Silverthorn

Leah B. Silverthorn joined the CalChamber policy team in May 2018 as a policy advocate. She specializes in climate change, air quality, energy, environmental justice, marijuana/cannabis, and transportation and infrastructure issues. In April 2021, she was named a senior policy advocate in recognition of her efforts on behalf of members. She brought to the CalChamber more than decade of legal experience in environmental, energy, and land use matters. Immediately before coming to the CalChamber, she was the principal owner of Silverthorn Legal, based in Seattle, Washington. She focused on environmental litigation, contaminated property redevelopment, and environmental cost recovery and defense. She is an honors graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington, with a B.S. in public affairs and environmental management. She earned her J.D., with honors, at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, where she was articles editor for the Indiana International and Comparative Law Review and a member of the Moot Court Board. See full bio.