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Fresno Lawmaker’s Remake of Valley Air Board is Dead, Road Tax Proposal in Jeopardy



Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula's bill to reform the local air pollution control board failed in a legislative committee. (GV Wire Composite/David Rodriguez)
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An attempt by Joaquin Arambula to reform the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District failed to advance out of state Assembly committee on Wednesday.

Arambula, D-Fresno, proposed AB 650, which would add four members to the board to represent specific constituencies. But he could not convince any of colleagues on the Democratic-controlled Assembly Committee on Local Government to even make a motion for approval.

After Arambula presented the bill, there was awkward silence on the committee for a minute. The committee chair, Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Yolo County, declared the bill dead.

“I appreciate that I was able to present AB 650 but, unfortunately, could not persuade the committee to move it forward, despite the strong voices of the fierce advocates who fought for it. I am profoundly grateful to the advocates for supporting both bills aimed at improving the health and lives of so many Central Valley families. We will keep fighting for transparency and democracy and equity,” Arambula told GV Wire after the hearing.

No Support from Committee

During the hearing, Arambula said AB 650 would “restore the community’s faith in the district’s governance.”

The bill would expand the 15-member board to 19, adding a Native American representative, a youth representative, and two members representing social or environmental justice issues.

All four would be appointed by the governor, which concerned current committee members. That would result in six of the 15 members being appointed by the governor. The remainder are of elected city council or county supervisors from the Central Valley.

“The people who I want to make the rules that regard my life should be the people that I vote for. And so that’s why I cannot support this today, is because I want elected members — and it already has appointed members, but it would be the highest in the entire state (with non-elected members) of all the air quality management districts, ” said Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, D-Suisun City, who was born and raised in Fresno.

Arambula also cited problems with the district’s emission reduction credit program, which he said violated federal and state laws.

“You have an enforcement problem. You don’t have … a board composition problem,” Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner, D-Encinitas, said.

A Loss After Wins on Similar Bills

The legislative loss follows wins from Arambula to establish or reform other local boards, including the San Joaquin River Conservancy Board, and an independent committee to redistrict the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.

Another similar pending bill, AB 558 which would reform the Measure C transportation tax committee, was scheduled to be heard by the Local Government committee also on Wednesday. However, it was pulled from the agenda earlier in the week.

Arambula’s office said the bill was held by committee chair Aguiar-Curry.

“I’m deeply disappointed that AB 558 wasn’t even given a hearing in the Local Government Committee,” Arambula said.

Aguiar-Curry’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email