SACRAMENTO, CA (AP) - Attempts to overhaul California's landmark environmental law are expected to continue next year after the Legislature passed a narrow measure that focuses on assisting the effort to build an NBA arena in the state capital.
Lawmakers made only limited changes to the California Environmental Quality Act as part of a bill that smooths the way for a Sacramento Kings arena in downtown Sacramento.
The bill by Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento would speed judicial review of any lawsuits filed against the proposed arena under the environmental law.
"We were able to merge some very specific and appropriate relief for Sacramento to make sure that this project that is so important and we've worked so hard to earn is not held up and at the same time we pushed forward significant reform of the California Environmental Quality Act that makes it easier to build more projects like this," Steinberg said shortly after his legislation passed.
The Senate sent the bill to the governor on a 32-5 vote Thursday, hours after the Assembly approved it 55-6.
SB743 was expanded to include portions of a broader bill Steinberg had proposed to overhaul the law, commonly known as CEQA. The changes will help development projects in urban areas throughout the state.
Steinberg was unable to negotiate comprehensive reform to the law in the face of fierce opposition from environmental groups.
The Associated Press