With local assemblyman Pedro Nava at the helm, two issues concerning the environment are making their way through the California State Legislature, one focusing on road construction and the other on natural disaster response time.

The first bill, AB 38, was inspired by the federal government’s muddled response to Hurricane Katrina and it seeks to combine the offices of Emergency Services and Homeland Security into a more efficient Department of Emergency Services and Homeland Security. The second bill by Nava, AB 484, addresses the decreasing supply of road construction materials available in California. It proposes the use of recycled materials in the future, to complement the already dwindling supply of construction supplies.

“It is an important step towards more environmentally sound construction materials as we maintain and build our infrastructure throughout California,” Nava said of the second bill. “This bill is cost effective, beneficial to the environment and will save local governments and taxpayers’ money. It’s a win-win for all.”

Currently, California purchases its aggregate road construction materials from Canada and Mexico to set off its shrinking in-state supply. By using recycled materials, construction costs would drop significantly, Nava said. The proposed materials would also meet CalTrans’ environmental standards, guaranteeing safety and longevity.

The construction bill is currently on its way to the state senate after passing an assembly vote of 46 to 28 in favor of the bill, with the majority of opposition from Republican legislators. Meanwhile, Nava said the homeland security bill is just starting its journey through state legislature.

“This legislation will make the state more responsive when disaster strikes,” he said. “Everyone saw the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina and the poor response by the federal government. We want to make sure that California’s emergency response and recovery system works effectively and efficiently and can respond to the needs of its residents.”

With all the emergency offices united into one department, Nava said he hopes state response to emergencies will be much more efficient and capable than before. The bill will also promote the director of the new department to a cabinet position, thus granting better access to the governor.

“One of the biggest complaints from first responders is that there is limited communication between the two offices,” Nava said. “This bill will tighten up the process and make it clear who’s in charge.”

So far, Nava said the homeland security bill has received a warm reception. It passed through the California State Assembly Committee on Appropriations with a 16 to 0 vote. The bill also has the governor’s personal approval, Nava said, and is now on its way to the state assembly for approval.