The state Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Tuesday gutted a bill that would have created a state Department of High-Speed Trains.

The action came after the measure’s author tried an end-run around the committee, which is responsible for reviewing transportation policy issues in bills pending in the state Senate.

“That was a fascinating train ride, so to speak,” the committee chairman, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), said after the bill finally was amended and sent to its next stop, the Appropriations Committee.

Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani (D-Livingston), author of the measure, initially tried to talk the committee out of discussing proposed amendments to her bill, saying all would be addressed later when she planned to hold informal discussions with Assembly and Senate transportation leaders outside the public committee process .

But when she couldn’t get the five votes necessary to send her bill to the Appropriations Committee, she agreed to delete its main point, creation of the train department.

Now that lawmakers have adopted a state budget, they’re turning their attention to reaching final agreements on a series of controversial issues, including the future of the High-Speed Rail Authority, which has had a series of management problems.

Ultimately, Gov. Jerry Brown also must weigh-in on how the leadership of the proposed $43-billion project should be structured and what kind of state oversight, if any, it needs.


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