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AB-2548 Commute benefit policies: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 08/20/2018 09:00 PM
AB2548:v95#DOCUMENT

Assembly Bill No. 2548
CHAPTER 173

An act to add Section 65080.9 to the Government Code, relating to transportation.

[ Approved by Governor  August 20, 2018. Filed with Secretary of State  August 20, 2018. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2548, Friedman. Commute benefit policies: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Existing law declares that the fostering, continuance, and development of public transportation systems are a matter of statewide concern. Existing law creates the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, with various powers and duties with respect to transportation planning, programming, construction, and operations.
This bill would authorize the authority to adopt, and revise as necessary, a commute benefit ordinance that requires covered employers operating within the authority’s area with a specified number of employees to offer certain employees commute benefits, as specified, except that the bill would prohibit the ordinance from affecting employers covered by certain South Coast Air Quality Management District rules or regulations. The bill would require the ordinance to specify certain matters, including any consequences for noncompliance. The bill would, if the authority adopts a commute benefit ordinance, require the authority, before January 1, 2022, to submit a report to the transportation policy committees of each house of the Legislature and the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality that includes specified elements.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 65080.9 is added to the Government Code, to read:

65080.9.
 (a) It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage metropolitan planning organizations and county transportation commissions to work with local employers to adopt policies that encourage commuting by means other than driving alone. To encourage this, the Legislature hereby establishes a program in that regard in the County of Los Angeles.
(b) Notwithstanding Section 40717.9 of the Health and Safety Code, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority may adopt, and revise as necessary, a commute benefit ordinance that requires covered employers operating within the authority’s area to offer all covered employees a pretax option program, consistent with Section 132(f) of the Internal Revenue Code, allowing covered employees to elect to exclude from taxable wages employee commuting costs incurred for transit passes or vanpool charges, up to the maximum amount allowed by federal tax law.
(c) Nothing in this section shall prevent a covered employer from offering a more generous commuter benefit program that is otherwise consistent with the requirements of the applicable commute benefit ordinance. Nothing in this section shall require employees to change their behavior.
(d) An employer offering, or proposing to offer, an alternative commuter benefit program on the employer’s own initiative, or an employer otherwise required to offer an alternative commuter benefit program as a condition of a lease, original building permit, or other similar requirement, if the alternative is not consistent with the program described in subdivision (b), may seek approval of the alternative from the authority. The authority may approve an alternative if it determines that the alternative provides at least the same benefit in terms of reducing single-occupant vehicle trips as the program described in subdivision (b). An employer that offers an approved alternative to covered employees in a manner otherwise consistent with this section is not required to offer the program described in subdivision (b).
(e) The commute benefit ordinance shall provide covered employers with at least six months to comply after the ordinance is adopted.
(f) An employer that participates in, or is represented by, a transportation management association, or a transportation management organization, that provides the employer’s covered employees with the program described in subdivision (b) or an alternative commuter benefit program approved pursuant to subdivision (d), shall be deemed in compliance with the commute benefit ordinance and the transportation management association, or transportation management organization, may act on behalf of those employers in that regard. The authority shall communicate directly with the transportation management association or transportation management organization, rather than the participating employers, to determine compliance with the ordinance.
(g) A commute benefit ordinance adopted pursuant to this section shall specify all of the following:
(1) How the authority will inform covered employers about the ordinance.
(2) How compliance with the ordinance will be demonstrated.
(3) The procedures for proposing, and the criteria that will be used to evaluate, an alternative commuter benefit program pursuant to subdivision (d).
(4)  Any consequences for noncompliance.
(h) Nothing in this section shall limit or restrict the statutory or regulatory authority of the authority.
(i) The authority shall not use federal planning funds in the implementation of the commute benefit ordinance.
(j) Nothing in this section shall authorize the authority to adopt a commute benefit ordinance that would affect an employer covered by a South Coast Air Quality Management District rule or regulation intended to reduce on-road mobile source emissions generated from employee commuting or to provide options for attaining equivalent emissions reductions.
(k) If the authority adopts a commute benefit ordinance pursuant to this section, the authority, before January 1, 2022, shall submit a report to the transportation policy committees of each house of the Legislature and the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality that includes, but is not limited to, all of the following elements:
(1) A description of the program, including how the authority informed covered employers and employees of the ordinance, and of any compliance issues.
(2) The number of employers complying with the ordinance that did not previously offer a commute benefit consistent with those required by the ordinance.
(3) The number of employees who stopped driving alone to work to instead take transit or a vanpool because of the commute benefit ordinance.
(4) The number of single-occupant vehicle trips reduced per month, week, or day because of the commute benefit ordinance.
(5) The vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions reductions associated with implementation of the commute benefit ordinance.
(6) The greenhouse gas emissions reductions associated with implementation of the commute benefit ordinance as a percentage of the region’s greenhouse gas emissions target established by the State Air Resources Board.
(l) For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) “Authority” means the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
(2) “Covered employee” means an employee who performed at least an average of 20 hours of work per week within the previous calendar month within the area where the ordinance adopted pursuant to this section operates.
(3) “Covered employer” means any employer for which an average of 50 or more employees perform work for compensation at a worksite within the area where the ordinance adopted pursuant to this section operates. In determining the number of employees performing work for an employer during a given week, only employees performing work on a full-time basis shall be counted.