The California Senate has passed Assemblyman Chris R. Holden’s Assembly Bill 359 with bipartisan support. AB 359 is a consumer protection bill that will increase public transparency of airport infrastructure financing while streamlining state regulations.
Under existing law, California airports seeking to finance the construction of large rental car facilities with a customer surcharge must submit to an independent financial audit to determine the reasonableness of the fee, according to the California State Assembly. This audit must be conducted prior to initial authorization and repeated every three years until the construction bonds are fully paid.
AB 359 will permit California airports to substitute the independent audit with an “Annual Audit of Airport Finances,” a yearly audit of all airport activity, including the rental car fee, required by local and federal regulators, says the California State Assembly.
“As a former airport commissioner for Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport, I know firsthand how strictly regulated airports are by the federal government,” said Holden. “This bill will save local taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars by simply allowing airports to submit audits they already perform to satisfy California law.”
In addition, AB 359 will also enhance existing consumer protections. This bill clarifies the audit standards and criteria used to audit airport fees, ensuring that all audits are uniform and easier to understand.
“It makes no sense to spend taxpayer money to audit local airports, only to send the audit to the state legislature without letting the fee-paying public see the results,” said Holden. “AB 359’s public disclosure provisions will ensure every Californian is able to easily see how their fee money is being spent.”
The bill will now go back to the California State Assembly for brief approval before heading to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.