California is a vast state, with regions that vary greatly in needs and circumstance. From dense cities, to desert expanses and mountain ranges; from areas whose economy depends on technology or manufacturing, to communities that are driven by fishing or agriculture. This geographic and economic diversity is what makes California great.

With such varied needs, the State has appropriately relied on systems of local control to oversee regional needs related to air quality, water and transportation. However, there has been a disturbing trend in Sacramento to usurp the long-standing power of local elected officials to chart the best course for the communities and regions they represent.

SB 522 (Mendoza) seeks to add 10 members to the Los Angeles County Metro Board, a number of whom would be selected by the Speaker of the Assembly and Senate Committee on Rules. The current composition of the Metro Board was the result of a lengthy, local process, in which local stakeholders came together to develop a consensus. Cities within L.A. County are represented through their local councils of governments, and each has a voice in Metro’s priority setting and decision making for the 10 million constituents of L.A. County. SB 522 would allow Sacramento leadership to determine whom they think should make transportation decisions for L.A. County.

SB 1387 (de Leon), a bill introduced in response to decisions made by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), would give state legislators in Sacramento the authority to appoint more than a third of the seats on the regional air quality board created and designed to make decisions for Southern California. Regional air quality management districts were established to design regulations in compliance with state and federal air quality laws and consider the unique conditions and circumstances present in each region. By adding state appointees to AQMD’s governing board, SB 1387 would dilute the voting power of the locally elected officials on the Board, who are directly responsible to their constituents.

Regional and local agencies are best-equipped to deliver projects and programs that provide regional benefit through local collaboration and consensus. It is inappropriate to shift planning that must reflect local environmental, mobility and socioeconomic needs to state lawmakers in Sacramento. I urge you to join the Chamber in opposing these two bills that would give Sacramento undue influence over local agency boards like MTA and AQMD.