Planetizen Managing Editor James Brasuell tries to predict the big ideas and trends that will dominate the discussion about the future of land use, planning, and development in the first year of the new decade.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has followed the path laid by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in joining the U.S. Climate Alliance. All three are new Democratic governors replacing Republican predecessors.
The widespread Yellow Vests protests, which initially involved hundreds of thousands of protestors in November, are wrongly being interpreted as a movement against carbon taxes and climate action, rather than a revolt against social inequities.
With the re-election of Gov. Kate Brown and Democrats increasing their majorities in both legislative chambers, Oregon appears poised next year to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill which caps carbon emissions, but opponents could put it on the ballot.
Transportation advocates have been patiently waiting since Nov. 6 for the results of a half-cent, 30-year county sales tax measure, 50 percent of which would benefit Samtrans bus and Caltrain needs and 5% bike/ped. It needs 66.67% of votes to pass.
The incoming chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), points to gubernatorial races and a California ballot initiative to show there's no peril for legislators to hike the gas tax.
Carbon pricing proponents in the U.S. saw their second defeat in two years in the same state when Washington voters soundly defeated I-1631, a carbon fee that would fund emission reductions. Unlike I-732 in 2016, environmentalists were unified.
Democratic candidate Tim Walz was not shy about his intention to hike the gas tax to pay for improvements for roads and public transit, and he was predictably slammed by his Republican opponent. Similar scenarios played out in Wisconsin and Michigan.
The day after California voters soundly rejected a repeal of a one-year old 12-cents gas tax increase and new annual vehicle registration fees. the Riverside County Transportation Commission launched a study to extend toll lanes on Interstate 15.
Tolls were not on state ballots like gas taxes and transportation sales taxes on Nov. 6, but surrogates for and against truck-only tolling participated in two gubernatorial elections in New England, and the results will give no joy to truckers.
It was not your basic fuel tax hike. Utah voters were told that raising the tax would help education by redirecting revenue from the General Fund to schools that currently goes to transportation. Yet voters also passed decidedly liberal initiatives.
Similar to Missouri voters, who rejected a 10-cents per gallon tax hike placed on the ballot by the state legislature, Colorado voters rejected two competing initiatives to finance transportation improvements placed on the ballot by citizen groups.
Missouri legislators approved a bill at the end of the legislative session to place a 10-cents per gallon gas tax increase on the ballot to fund road repair. It had the support of Gov. Mike Parson but was rejected by nearly 54 percent of voters.
In potentially the most important transportation ballot measure in the state since 1990, the last time residents voted on the gas tax, Californians were deciding whether to repeal fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees approved last year.
Two western states had very similar renewable energy initiatives on the ballot sponsored by NextGen America requiring utilities to get 50 percent of electricity by 2030. It passed in Nevada but was rejected in Arizona.
Had election results proved favorable in Oregon and Washington, UC Berkley Law Climate Program Director Ethan Elkind suggested that the two states could join California to form a West Coast Climate Bloc. Oregon came through, but not Washington.
Unlike energy issues that will appear in the form of ballot initiatives on Tuesday in three western states, voters in New Mexico will cast their energy vote in their choice for state land commissioner, an arcane position with considerable authority.