It must be really frustrating to be a Republican legislator in California, even more to be one representing Orange County. Without the support of the Democrats in the legislature, Republicans are pretty much useless. But we are pleased to report that the void created by the Republicans representing the majority of Orange County legislative districts, is being filled by the few Democrats from OC. We reported last month about the Governor signing off on legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva to resolve the dispute between the state and county over lost VLFAA funds.
Today we have the pleasure to report that another Quirk-Silva bill has been signed into law by Governor Brown. The legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 409, permits the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to develop and operate its own secure statewide online system for filing Statements of Economic Interests (SEIs).
“Allowing an online filing system not only reduces costs for government agencies, but it also increases transparency in our government and trust in our public officials by providing the public the ability to access this information,” said Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva.
According to a press statement from Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva:
Currently no central repository of SEI filings exists, and with just a fraction of the forms filed electronically, a searchable tool to illuminate activities on a statewide level is nearly impossible. The FPPC is required to accept electronic copies of SEIs forwarded by agencies that are operating FPPC approved electronic filing systems. Because the FPPC has no system in place to receive the statements, the electronically filed SEIs have to be manually processed under their current paper filing system.
AB 409 authorizes the FPPC to develop and operate one statewide electronic filing system for SEIs. This legislation will simplify compliance for public officials who file SEIs and provide the public with access to this information in an easy to access format on the FPPC’s website.
“This important bill is about accountability for public officials and our responsibility to provide the public with the information it deserves,” added Quirk-Silva.
Governor Brown also signed a bill by Assemblyman Tom Daly. Assembly Bill (AB) 401 provides landmark “design-build” authority to local transportation agencies and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). AB 401 will permit all local transportation agencies to utilize design-build procurement for an unlimited number of transportation projects on the state highway system, as well as expressways, as defined in the bill. AB 401 also would authorize Caltrans to utilize design-build procurement for up to 10 projects on the state highway system. The authorizations are allowed until 2024.
“I originally introduced this bill to enable the Orange County Transportation Authority to realize significant time and money savings on the $1.5 billion widening of Interstate 405 in Orange County,” said Daly. “However, the bill proved so popular that it was amended to apply to transportation projects in every corner of California. We need to use every tool at our disposal to deliver freeway and road projects faster and less expensive.”
Design-build is a project-delivery method that combines design, permitting, and construction. This innovative method streamlines the traditional procurement process known as “design-bid-build,” saving time and money. Under the design-build approach, there is an estimated 5% cost savings compared to the traditional process, equating to millions of dollars for each project.
The Orange County Transportation Authority will utilize design-build procurement for their Interstate 405 Improvement Project. OCTA’s leadership team believes design-build authorization will speed up project completion by 2-3 years, and save up to $100 million. More efficient project delivery is critical, as the Interstate 405 project will address one of the busiest stretches of freeway in the nation. Every day, over 300,000 vehicles use the 405 freeway in Orange County, and traffic is expected to grow 35-40% by 2040. Now, with an expedited timetable, the project will speed the creation of 22,000 construction jobs.
“On behalf of OCTA and transportation agencies throughout the state, I want to thank Assemblyman Daly for his efforts on this bill,” said OCTA Chairman Greg Winterbottom. “Utilizing design-build will benefit Orange County, and all Californians, by saving time and taxpayer dollars. It will also create employment opportunities when our economy needs a boost.”
AB 401 passed out of the Assembly on a vote of 66-8, after securing the approval of the Senate on a 32-2 vote. The Governor signed the bill on October 5th.
It should be noted that while Republican OC Assembly members are busy sending out partisan surveys at taxpayer expense, OC Democrats are leading by passing legislation creating jobs, ensuring government integrity, and making sure that the residents of Orange County get their fair share of tax revenues to provide local services.