The Senate Public Employees and Retirement (PERS) Committee voted on a party line today to kill SB423 by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar). Introduced after the two recent BART transit strikes in the San Francisco Bay Area, the bill would have protected public transit riders statewide from the impact of crippling strikes by public transit employees. Senators Jim Beall (D-San Jose), Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and Marty Block (D-San Diego) all voted "No" while Senators Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel) and Ted Gaines (R-Granite Bay) voted "Aye."
"Last year Californians witnessed the Bay Area come to a screeching halt not once, but twice, as leaders of the BART employee union called strikes and BART trains went dark," said Huff. "Hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents could not get to work, go to school, see the doctor, or visit with family and friends and it cost the region $73 million each day. We have made the public rely on public transit, but as a legislature, we have failed to make public transit reliable. That's a major failure. Californians deserve a government that works for everyone but today they were let down."
"Perhaps this bill should have been heard first in the Senate Transportation Committee, since it's all about making sure our transit systems actually work for the public," added Huff. "But instead it was sent to the committee that focuses on the concerns of public workers. That should tell you something about the priorities of the majority party."
While today's vote essentially ends Senator Huff's bill for the year, the idea of protecting residents against crippling public transit strikes will continue. Other legislators have indicated they will introduce similar proposals in the coming months.