Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Vidak takes a swing at re-voting on high-speed rail

State Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford.

Newly minted state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, is pitching a series of amendments to legislation in hopes of getting California’s controversial high-speed rail project back before the state’s voters.

On Monday, Vidak offered the amendments to a bill by Assembly Member Jim Frazier, D-Oakley. Frazier’s bill was not taken up this week by the state Senate, but if it comes up for a vote next week, the senate would need to decide whether or not to consider Vidak’s amendments.

Frazier’s bill deals with allocating duties that used to be part of the now-defunct Business, Transportation and Housing Agency to the state’s new Transportation Agency.

Vidak’s amendments would put the high-speed rail project, originally approved by California voters as Proposition 1A in 2008,  on the November 2014 ballot. It would also add language to Frazier’s bill to bar using money from the sale of Prop. 1A high-speed rail bonds for high-speed rail and block the sale of future bonds.

Another amendment calls for changing state law “as quickly as possible to prevent any further funding of a high-speed passenger train system that differs in both cost and substance from the project approved by voters in 2008.”

Vidak’s efforts are no doubt popular in his stomping grounds of Kings County, where the county’s Board of Supervisors and two residents are suing the California High-Speed Rail Authority, alleging that the statewide rail plan violates Prop. 1A. Earlier this month, a judge agreed, but has yet to figure out how to remedy the violation.

“I’m simply asking to let people re-vote on high-speed rail,” Vidak said in a written statement. “This runaway money train needs to be returned to the station before another taxpayer penny is spent.”

Even Vidak’s staff, however, acknowledged that his amendments are unlikely to make any headway in the Democrat-controlled state Legislature.

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