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Inventory of the California State Assembly Transportation Committee Records
See series descriptions for LP numbers.  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Committee History
  • Scope and Content
  • Accruals
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material
  • Oral Histories of Committee Members

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Assembly Transportation Committee Records
    Dates: 1954-2012
    Collection Number: See series descriptions for LP numbers.
    Creator: Assembly Interim Transportation and Commerce Committee Assembly Transportation and Commerce Committee Assembly Transportation Committee Assembly Subcommittee on Air Pollution Assembly Subcommittee on Air Quality Assembly Subcommittee on Freeway Traffic Control Assembly Subcommittee on the Golden Gate Bridge District Assembly Subcommittee on Highway Structural Safety Assembly Subcommittee on Los Angeles Regional Transportation Assembly Subcommittee on Metropolitan Transportation Assembly Subcommittee on the Muffler Problem Assembly Subcommittee on Northern California Assembly Subcommittee on the Oversight of the Century Freeway Project Assembly Subcommittee on Problems of Log Hauling Assembly Subcommittee on Safety Devices and Regulations Assembly Subcommittee on San Francisco Rail Commuter Service Assembly Subcommittee on Southern California Regional Transportation Assembly Subcommittee on Traffic Safety and Devices Assembly Subcommittee on Transit Assembly Subcommittee on Truck Weights, Load Characteristics, and Regulations
    Collection Size: 141 cubic feet, including audiovisual materials
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: The Assembly Transportation Committee records consist of 141 cubic feet of records reflecting the committee's activities, along with those of its antecedents, in studying and analyzing transportation related legislation as well as general transportation issues. The bulk of the collection consists of bill files, which date from 1968 through 2012. Also present are hearing files, subject files, reports, and correspondence.
    Physical Location: California State Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Administrative Information


    While the majority of the records are open for research, any access restrictions are noted in the record series descriptions.

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please consult California State Archives staff. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement that may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives' collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], [Name of Committee] Records, LP[number]:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition and Custodial History

    The State Archives received these records in accordance with California Government Code 9080(b) which requires legislative committees to transfer their records to the State Archives when they are no longer needed by the committee.


    The California State Archives received the records of the Assembly Transportation Committee over a number of years and archives staff have arranged them at various times. While the physical arrangement of the records reflects this variety, this inventory describes all of the records according to present archival descriptive standards for legislative committee records. Therefore, the physical arrangement of these records does not necessarily follow the inventory's order.

    Committee History

    Transportation has been an important issue for the state legislature since its beginning in 1850. Until 1945, jurisdiction over transportation was broken down into different elements and managed by different committees that have since come and gone. These Assembly committees included Roads and Highways, Commerce and Navigation, Motor Vehicles, Aviation and Air Craft, Common Carriers, and Public Works, State Capitol and Parks. In 1945, the State Assembly unified the jurisdictions into one committee: the Assembly Committee on Transportation and Commerce.
    At the end of World War II, the State Assembly recognized the increase in affluence and commerce in America. The Assembly stated "transportation and commerce in the postwar world [would] create and intensify many conditions which [would] require legislation." In order to address these conditions in transportation and commerce, the State Assembly created the Transportation and Commerce Committee with House Resolution 274 in 1945 (Assembly Journal, June 9, 1945, p. 3995).
    Five Assembly members were assigned to the committee, one serving as chair and another as vice chair. It was the responsibility of this newly founded committee to "ascertain, study, and analyze all facts relating to the transportation of persons and goods and the problems of commerce" (Assembly Journal, June 9, 1945, p. 3995). This included ascertaining, studying and analyzing: the adequacy of California's waterways and roadways, devices and the equipment associated with transportation, hazards and inefficiencies of traffic, and the administration of all state and local agencies that in any way affect the operation, administration, enforcement or revision of the streets and highways, harbors and navigation and vehicle codes.
    The Transportation and Commerce Committee functioned as a standing committee when the legislature was in session. During this time the committee focused on reviewing current bills and making recommendations to the Assembly. When the legislature was not in session the Transportation and Commerce Committee reverted to an interim committee. The interim committee was comprised of the same members as the standing committee but their objective was different. Instead of focusing on specific legislation, as they would during the regular session, the Interim Transportation and Commerce Committee would concentrate on identifying and examining problems and weaknesses in California transportation.
    Because of the large scope of issues the committee oversaw, the number of members assigned to the committee quickly rose from the original five. In 1946, 13 assembly members were assigned to the committee. In 1947, 16 members were assigned to the committee. Over the next 12 years, the membership fluctuated some but was generally held in the low to mid teens.
    In 1969, pursuant to House Resolution 21, a reorganization of the Assembly's committee jurisdictions occurred. In 1968, the Assembly had 23 committees. That was paired down to 21 in 1969 with substantial changes to the names and jurisdictions of the committees. The Assembly Committee on Transportation and Commerce dropped the Commerce and became simply the Assembly Committee on Transportation. Jurisdiction over commerce was given to the Public Utilities and Corporations Committee.
    The new Committee on Transportation had 10 members appointed to it, one serving as chair and another serving as vice chair. The committee no longer had jurisdiction over the problems of commerce but there was plenty to cover with the transportation of people and goods and all the problems that came along with that. The committee's scope expanded to explicitly include aviation as part of their jurisdiction whereas before it had not.
    The Assembly Committee on Transportation remains the same today in jurisdiction and administration as at its inception in 1969, with the only change being the number of members appointed to the committee. Now there are 14 members up from the original 10. The subjects of concern are much the same as they have been. Automobile safety, pollution and smog, fuels, and traffic congestion remain as central concerns to the Assembly Committee on Transportation as they were at the committee's inception.
    The chairpersons of this committee from 1954-2012 were as follows:
    Hobbie, Don (Rep.), 1954-1955 (deceased during 1955 session)
    Backstrand, Leland M. (Rep.-Dem.), 1955-1956
    Luckel, Frank (Rep.), 1957-1958
    Backstrand, Leland M. (Rep.), 1959-1960
    Beaver, Jack A. (Rep.), 1961-1962
    Carrell, Thomas C. (Dem.), 1963-1966
    Foran, John Francis (Dem.), 1967-1970
    Deddeh, Wadie P. (Dem.), 1971-1972
    Meade, Kenneth A. (Dem.), 1973-1974
    Ingalls, Walter M. (Dem.), 1975-1980
    Young, Bruce E. (Dem.), 1981-1984
    Katz, Richard (Dem.), 1985-1994
    Bowler, Larry (Rep.), 1995-1996
    Murray, Kevin G. (Dem.), 1997-1998
    Torlakson, Tom (Dem.), 1999-2000
    Dutra, John A. (Dem.), 2001-2004
    Oropeza, Jenny (Dem.), 2005-2006
    Nava, Pedro (Dem.), 2007-2008
    Eng, Mike (Dem.), 2009-2010
    Lowenthal, Bonnie (Dem.), 2011-2014
    Frazier, Jim (Dem.), 2015-

    Scope and Content

    The Assembly Transportation Committee records consist of 141 cubic feet of records reflecting the committee's activities, along with those of its antecedents, in studying and analyzing transportation related legislation as well as general transportation issues.
    The bulk of the collection consists of bill files, which date from 1968 through 2012. Second in size to the bill files are the hearing files, which make up a substantial portion of the collection, covering 1956-1987. The collection's large volume and date range of hearing files, both from the transportation standing, interim, and subcommittees, provide researchers with clear insight into the concerns and issues being addressed by the committee and its antecedents throughout their history.
    Transportation is an integral part of California culture and American society. The legislation addressed and passed with the recommendation of this committee has the potential to affect large industries and government agencies as well as private businesses and citizens.
    The remainder of the collection includes subject files, reports, and correspondence (see series descriptions for complete list of dates). These first two series can provide researchers with an idea of the wide range of agencies, boards, commissions, industries, and legal codes that interact with the Transportation Committee and the level of influence the committee has on each of these entities. Some organizations the Assembly Transportation Committee works closely with include the California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, California Highway Patrol, California High-Speed Rail Authority, California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), California Transportation Commission, Department of Motor Vehicles, various transportation districts, and the trucking industry.
    The correspondence in this collection consists of the Chair's correspondence. These files shed a light on the scope of issues the committee addresses and the constituents, both large and small, well-organized groups and concerned individuals, the committee aims to serve.
    The records reflect the close involvement of the committee on a variety of important subjects. They document the committee's involvement in and continuing commitment to mass transportation, its efforts to combat transportation-related pollution and smog, and efforts to improve vehicle and traffic safety through regulation.
    The collection also contains several relevant records pertaining to very recent issues which researchers may be interested in. One of these issues is the hands-free cell phone law. Introduced as Senate Bill 1613, this bill aims to prohibit the use of a handheld cell phone while operating a vehicle. Drivers 18 and older have the option of using a hands free device connected to their cell phone if they wish to talk while driving. The bill was enacted into law, Chapter 290, Statutes of 2006. Under SB33, drivers under 18 are restricted entirely from using a cell phone with or without a hands-free device while driving as part of their provisional license (Statutes 2007, Chapter 214)
    Another recent issue is that of illegal alien drivers' licenses. Until 1993, illegal aliens were eligible for drivers' licenses in California. Governor Wilson eliminated this privilege in 1993 when he signed SB976 into law as Chapter 820, Statutes of 1993. Though some legislators have been diligently working to get legislation passed reopening the doors for illegal aliens to have a means of obtaining a drivers license, they have yet to be successful.
    A final issue of current relevance is the recent increased attention in California transportation legislation to the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians. The most fundamental piece of legislation enacted regarding this increased attention was Assembly Concurrent Resolution 211 (2002). This bill, which became Resolution Chapter 120 (2002), encouraged all cities and counties to, in accordance with the California Department of Transportation and US Department of Transportation's recommendations and guidelines, integrate bicycling and walking into their transportation infrastructure. Since the passage of this resolution, several other pieces of legislation have been introduced and passed to improve the conditions for pedestrians and cyclists on the roadways.
    Because of its far-reaching scope of influence on society and the role it often plays as leader in the field of transportation related solutions, the legislation assigned to Assembly Transportation Committee captures the attention of large and wide variety of groups and individuals. The interest of not only Californians, but Americans and citizens abroad in California's transportation makes these records valuable to those researching California's transportation history and to those elsewhere looking for guidance on the future of their own transportation endeavors.


    Further accruals are expected.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    California. Legislature. Assembly. Committee on Transportation.
    California. Legislature. Assembly. Transportation and Commerce Committee
    Traffic safety
    Drivers' licenses

    Related Material

    Bruce Young Papers
    Wadie P. Deddeh Papers
    Walter M. Ingalls Papers
    Richard Katz Papers
    Kevin Murray Papers
    Tom Torlakson Papers
    John Dutra Papers
    Jenny Oropeza Papers

    Oral Histories of Committee Members

    John F. Foran, Oral History Interview, Conducted 2003 by Laura McCreery, Regional Oral History Office, University of California at Berkeley, for the California State Archives State Government Oral History Program.
    Kenneth A. Meade, Oral History Interview, Conducted 1987 by Timothy P. Fong, Regional Oral History Office, University of California at Berkeley, for the California State Archives State Government Oral History Program.