California governor vetoes bill to extend use of carpool lanes

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/3/2013

Two bills that would improve congestion in Southern California and provide driver’s licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally got different responses from the governor.

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that called for freeing up carpool lanes in the Los Angeles area during non-peak hours and weekends.

“Carpool lanes are especially important in Los Angeles County to reduce pollution and maximize use of freeways,” Brown wrote in his veto message. “We should retain the current 24/7 carpool lane control.”

The bill sought to affect traffic on the 134 Freeway from Studio City to Pasadena and on the 210 Freeway from Pasadena to Glendora.

AB405 called for setting up a pilot program that would be similar to the way Northern California limits carpool usage between 6 and 10 a.m. and again between 4 and 7 p.m. on weekdays.

Assemblyman Paul Gatto, D-Los Angeles, said that carpool lanes are supposed to provide an incentive for carpooling during peak travel hours, and be good for the environment.

“I support these goals. But when motorists are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic at midnight while carpool lanes sit empty, those goals are not met,” Gatto said in a news release prior to the veto.

The governor signed another bill from Gatto that addresses concerns about fatal hit-and-run crashes. Previously AB184, the new law doubles the statute of limitations for such crimes from three years to six years.

“AB184 will allow victims of hit-and-runs and law enforcement to obtain justice from cowards who do everything possible to avoid responsibility for their actions,” Gatto said in a news release.

The new rule changes existing law, which allows motorists who flee the scene of an accident to simply “run out the clock” to avoid all criminal liability for seriously injuring or killing another person in a hit-and-run.

The legislative action follows seven hit-and-runs deaths over three weeks in the city of Los Angeles and another five in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

According to a bill analysis, 4,000 hit-and-run incidents a year in Los Angeles city lead to injury or death.

Gatto said the accident victims deserve justice.

A separate bill signed into law on Thursday, Oct. 3, authorizes the state to offer driver’s permits to immigrants who are in the country illegally.

“This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally,” Brown stated.

AB60 requires a special mark and notation on driving permits. The notation will state the document “does not establish eligibility for employment or public benefit.”

To view other legislative activities of interest for California, click here.

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