National Voter Registration Week

It’s National Voter Registration Week! Did you know that early voting has already started? Policy in Motion has teamed up with some great partners to help get out the vote by reminding people to register to vote, request and return mail-in-ballots early, and head to the polls safely with masks!

Election Day is on November 3rd, and between a global pandemic and voter suppression efforts, we need to make sure that every last vote counts—which includes making sure the people in our lives are registered to vote and encouraging as many people as possible to request their vote by mail ballots.

Want to help us get out the vote? is a one-stop-shop for voter registration, education, and engagement. They have an AMAZING hub with the tools you need to:

  • Check your voter registration 
  • Make sure you know your state’s dates and deadlines
  • Request your vote-by-mail ballot EARLY
  • Volunteer to help turn out more voters or to be a poll worker on Election Day
  • And much, much more

This is the most important election of our lifetimes—things need to change, and voting is an important way to make that happen. So visit now to get registered and get involved.

“Adopt A State” is another great program that allows you to adopt one of the six key battleground states that will be most important to winning up and down the ballot on November 3. When you Adopt A State, Vote Save America will send you specific calls to action that you can do from home that will help turnout the voters we need.

What are you waiting for? GO VOTE!


10 Year Anniversary of Policy in Motion!

This week marks the 10 year anniversary of Policy in Motion!

On August 10th, 2010 I took a leap of faith in starting my own policy consulting firm, Policy in Motion. Many of you were there that day — and were there for my Aug 10th, 2011 book launch, and Aug 10th, 2012 film premiere of Growing Beautiful Communities! As I reflect back on what an incredible journey it has been over the last decade I am mostly struck with gratitude for all of the amazing mentors I had at the start of my career in Sacramento and at UC Davis and everything I was able to accomplish over this past decade. I have also had the privilege to serve as a mentor to many young professionals in the planning and policy field, helped launch new sustainability initiatives across California, and spent a remarkable year on a Presidential Campaign trail (pre-covid) serving as Policy Director and Democratic National Committee Debate Liason. More on these key projects here.

2020 has not exactly turned out as many of us anticipated when we rang in the new year. I have personally gone through some major changes losing my big sister to cancer in the middle of a pandemic. But if there’s anything she taught me it was to live life to the fullest, even if that just means smiling through a hard day and petting your dog (I also got a new puppy!).

So in lieu of having an annual celebration this week with colleagues, I would like to introduce you to my recently redesigned business website, — highlighting the great projects, programs, and campaigns I have worked on over the last decade!

Lauren Michele
Founder, Policy in Motion


Climate Change “Unity Task Force” Launched by Biden and Sanders.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have joined together this week to launch “Unity Task Forces” for Climate Change and Health Care.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is helping Joe Biden’s presidential campaign develop proposals by co-chairing a climate policy panel that the former vice president created as part of a larger effort to appeal to the party’s left wing. AOC has championed the movement for a Green New Deal working with the Sunrise Movement and other advocacy organizations to raise climate change awareness. Varshini Prakash, the 26-year-old president of the Sunrise Movement, has also accepted a role on the climate task force. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, a top Biden surrogate, will be the other co-chair of the climate panel. He negotiated the Paris Climate Accord intended to reduce global production of greenhouse gases. 

The climate task force exists alongside groups on criminal justice restructuring, immigration, health care, education and the economy. The task forces include five members picked by Biden and three picked by Sanders.  

Five members of the health-care group support “Medicare for All”: the House author of the current legislation, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.); Medicare for All caucus member Rep. Robin L. Kelly (D-Ill.); SEIU President Mary Kay Henry; and former gubernatorial candidates Don Berwick and Abdul El-Sayed. A sixth member, Sherry Glied, supports an Australia-style universal Medicaid system. “Advocacy for Biden’s own primary position — that Medicare for All would be too expensive and undermine the gains of the Obama years — is shunted to the margins,” according to The Washington Post. 


California Counties and Businesses Clash with Governor Newsom on State’s Readiness Criteria for Re-Opening

California faces enormous challenges in the balance between protecting public health and re-opening its economy that has crushed thousands of small businesses.

The State’s Stage 2 Readiness Criteria released last week requires counties to have “No COVID-19 deaths in the past 14 days”. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer sent the following letter to Governor Gavin Newsom today in regards to the feasibility of this criteria.

The issue with a numerical not percentage based criteria for counties is that the Governor’s proposal does not take county population into account. San Diego has had no new deaths since Friday, Orange County had 2 today, but Los Angeles had 39 deaths just today so could have to wait until 2021 to see any re-opening under this criteria. Rural California will probably be the only areas able to start re-opening any time soon.

Alameda County has had no new deaths in the last two days and is home to the Tesla controversy. Elon Musk has pledged to move Tesla operations out of California over the lockdown dispute with the county and re-opened today asking officials to arrest him.


Gov. Gavin Newsom Outlines 4 Stage Plan to reopen California. Policy in Motion takes a look at the good, the bad, and the uncertain for life after COVID-19.

Today California Governor Gavin Newsom outlined a 4 Phase plan to reopen the state over the coming weeks and months. Here’s what life in the Golden State will be looking like:

  • Stage 1 – reflects where California is now, staying home and working on flattening the curve.
  • Stage 2 – involves lifting restrictions on some lower risk workplaces, such as retail, manufacturing and offices where telework is not possible. Will include the opening of more public spaces. Reopening child care centers will be a part of this second stage as well.
  • Stage 3 – will be “months, not weeks, away.” This stage will encompass personal care businesses like gyms, spas and salons, sports without live audiences, in-person religious services and other businesses where workers come in close contact with customers.
  • Stage 4 (final phase) – will see the end of the stay-at-home order with the reopening of the “highest risk parts of our economy” being reopened. That includes concerts, convention centers and sports with live crowds. Newsom said that stage would come only “once therapeutics have been developed.” Newsom also floated the idea of restarting school in late July or early August, saying that “the prospects of an earlier school year are warranted considering the prospect of neglecting our next generation.”

Life Beyond COVID-19

It goes without saying that the world is undergoing massive changes during this global pandemic — the good, the bad, and the uncertain — from record clean air levels to record unemployment levels, and record levels of uncertainty about what “life after COVID-19” will look like.

The Good – Earth Gets a Vacation

Traffic accidents and crash-related injuries and deaths were reduced by half during the first three weeks of California’s shelter-in-place order, which began March 20. The reductions save the state an estimated $40 million per day — about $1 billion over the time period — according to an updated special report released this week from the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis. In parallel with the more than 50 percent reduction in traffic collisions and related injuries and deaths came a 55 percent reduction in traffic on some highways. There was also a 40-50 percent decrease in trauma-injuries for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists reported among Sacramento-area hospitals. Altogether, the reduction amounts to about 15,000 fewer collisions per month and 6,000 fewer injuries or fatal accidents per month that can be directly attributed to the shelter-in-place order.

Since the shelter in place order, Los Angeles — consistently named the country’s smoggiest metropolitan area in the United States with the nation’s 6th worst traffic congestion — has had its longest stretch of clean air since 1980, the earliest year with available EPA data. The planet’s wildlife is also taking a break. While India is on quarantine, thousands of undisturbed sea turtles were able to lay an estimated 60 million eggs on beaches normally covered by people. With South Africa on lockdown, prides of lions lounge on the roads undisturbed. And herds of wild goats took over the roads in a Welsh town in the United Kingdom.

The Bad – Unemployment

More than 26 million Americans have filed for initial unemployment benefits in the past five weeks. Economists note the unemployment rate is almost certainly at its highest level since the Great Depression. California was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order and has seen the greatest number of job losses. In a state with an estimated labor force of 19.5 million, 3.3 million Californians have filed unemployment applications since March 14. 

The Uncertain – The Road Ahead

Businesses, government agencies, schools, and nearly every professional industry is wondering how and if people’s work and life patterns are not just changing now but changing forever. In an effort to collect information to help guide future policy and industry decisions, researchers have begun to collaborate on a behavior survey to collect this critical data.

Together with collaborators from across the U.S., Deborah Salon (Associate Director of the TOMNET University Transportation Center at Arizona State University) has developed a new survey to gather data on the extent to which we are likely to “go back” to our pre-COVID-19 way of living. The survey focuses on the adoption of remote working, distance learning, online shopping, online socializing, and the potential for these to change day-to-day travel patterns and air travel. If demand for these things changes a lot, it has the potential to transform our cities in ways that we need to prepare for. The data will ultimately be shared publicly at regular intervals over the next few months in hopes that this information will help our nation better plan for what’s next!

The survey link is here, it takes about 20 minutes, and is open to any adult (18+) living in the U.S. Please take a moment to complete the survey and share with others:

Policy in Motion has partnered to help get the word out and encourages businesses, associations, and governments to do the same — if interested, please contact Deborah at


CARES ACT: White House, Congress reach deal to replenish small-business loan program amid COVID-19 uncertainty

UPDATE 4-21-20: The White House and Congress have just reached a deal on a new funding package that will replenish the coronavirus relief program for small businesses. The deal is expected to include $310 billion for the paycheck protection program, which has come under fire for giving funds to major corporations over small businesses and which ran out of money last week.

I just got off a Zoom call with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce navigating federal relief under the CARES Act for small businesses and entrepreneurs. You may have seen the news this morning that the Small Business Administration has run out of money and not accepting any more applications for these grant and loan programs. The US Chamber and SBA are currently lobbying Congress for additional funding ASAP and are encouraging small businesses to stay alert for updates as to when the grant/loan programs will resume (most likely PPP will resume but not EIDL).

Additionally, this week the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation began accepting $5,000 grant applications for small businesses with 3-20 employees in economically vulnerable communities $5,000 grants for small businesses with 3-20 employees in economically vulnerable communities. You can apply at – the application should take about 10 minutes!

For Californians who are business owners, self-employed, independent contractors, have limited work history, and others not usually eligible for regular state UI benefits, check out the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance page linked here. The EDD will begin accepting online applications for this program on Tuesday, April 28.

For more information on these programs and to stay up to date with the latest on COVID-19 and other current policy updates impacting small businesses, please sign up for Policy in Motion’s email newsletters here:


Federal Climate Change Bills Underway with 100% Transportation Electrification Goals by 2035.

10 years ago I was living in Washington DC and working on the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation. I remember when it passed the House and died on the Senate floor. That’s the closest we’ve gotten to comprehensive climate change legislation in the United States.

There is now momentum again to tackle this great challenge of our lifetime. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) have introduced a resolution called the Green New Deal. It is an outline and call to action, a framework for collaboration on climate change mitigation, resiliency, and equity. It essentially outlines objectives for developing an eventual legislative plan to:

  • Achieve global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from human sources of 40 to 60 percent from 2010 levels by 2030.
  • Meet 100% of the power demand in the United States through clean renewable zero-emission energy sources by 2030.
  • Achieve net-zero global emissions by 2050.

In 2017, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) introduced the “Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act” (HR 3671) detailing a legislative plan to transition us away from fossil fuel sources of energy to 100% clean energy economy by 2035 and 80% by 2027. The Off Act ( has been endorsed by over 400 national, state, and local organizations and is considered the most aggressive piece of climate legislation ever introduced in Congress. It includes details on HOW we get to a carbon neutrality goal, including:

  • Clean energy mandate, zero-emission vehicle mandate, electrification of transit, electric vehicle rebate program for consumers.
  • Moratorium on new major fossil fuel projects, ending fossil fuel subsidies, low-income weatherization and retrofit assistance.
  • Extension of tax credits for wind facilities and solar energy.
  • Ban on crude oil and LNG exports. Ban fracking.
  • Environmental justice provisions for a clean energy future.
  • Establishes the Center for Workforce Development within the Department of Labor and the Equitable Transition Fund within the Department of the Treasury to identify the employment potential of the energy efficiency and renewable energy industry and the skills and training needed for workers in those fields to support career transition period.

A year prior to taking office, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez signed the OFF Act pledge to endorse Tulsi Gabbard’s landmark climate change legislation. Tulsi Gabbard has been an early supporter of the movement for a Green New Deal and was the first 2020 presidential candidate to support a House Select Committee on a Green New Deal.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today a select panel on climate change called the “House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis” — this will be led by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), and includes the following members: Reps. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Julia Brownley (Calif.), Sean Casten (Ill.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Mike Levin (Calif.), Donald McEachin (Va.) and Joe Neguse (Colo.).


California Launches Free Electric CarShare Pilot Program

Sacramento Launches Electric Vehicle CarShare Program in Three Affordable Housing Communities

In partnership with the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (AQMD), Policy in Motion is pleased to announce the launch of Our Community CarShare Sacramento, a new electric carsharing pilot program serving disadvantaged communities. This Sacramento AQMD program is funded by California Climate Investments: Cap-and-Trade Dollars at Work and operated by Zipcar with the goal of increasing access to zero-emission vehicles and enhancing clean mobility options.

Our Community CarShare provides hundreds of residents in three Sacramento affordable housing complexes with free access to eight electric Kia Souls. Six of the zero-emission vehicles are stationed at the residential communities and two additional vehicles will be available for reservation by registered users at the Sacramento Valley Train Station.

Eligible residents of Alder Grove, Edgewater, and Mutual Housing at Lemon Hill will have access to these exclusive community cars for short trips like errands, appointments, and meetings. The first 300 qualifying members will receive a free membership and may use the cars up to three times a week, with a maximum three hours reservation period (9 hours per week total). Zipcar operates the reservation system and will maintain the fleet. Residents are currently signing up for the program at www.ourcarshare.orgor with printed surveys at our workshops, and will soon be reserving the vehicles using or self-service kiosks on site. There will be no cost to use Our Community CarShare for the residents.

Photos, articles, and videos from the press event and community outreach can be found on our Facebook page at Here’s what some of the residents are saying about the program:

“I can’t wait. It will help a lot of people out who currently have no means of transportation!”

“I’m really excited. I’m going to be the first customer! It helps you feel more independent.”

Policy in Motion partnered on this pilot project to create the unique branding and marketing of Our Community CarShare Sacramento, including the development of the logo and website, and Policy in Motion is also working with the residents at all three communities on outreach and education to help ensure the participants can successfully use the program. This includes generating educational materials regarding carsharing and electric vehicle trip planning — as well as conducting multi-lingual workshops on the membership process involving participant eligibility, surveys, and program-specific Zipcar registration. Additional trainings will take place to help residents understand how to charge, use, and reserve the cars. Other elements of the program outreach include the development of site-specific information binders for on-site housing staff, working individually with staff to understand the program, and identifying resident “Community Ambassadors” at each location who are volunteer champions for the program, assisting other residents and helping to monitor that the cars are plugged in when parked. Policy in Motion is also tracking the successes and challenges in implementing this innovative pilot project so that the program may expand and improve in future years and be replicated in other cities.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) provided a $1.3 million grant through California Climate Investments, a statewide program that invests cap-and-trade proceeds, particularly in disadvantaged communities. The Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD was awarded the project funding through a competitive grant process.

“Our Community CarShare Sacramento provides access to clean, free transportation to residents of disadvantaged communities,” said Larry Greene, Sacramento AQMD’s Executive Director. “Mobility is vitally important in today’s economy, and bringing zero-emission transportation options to all residents is critical to protecting air quality and health.”

Other program partners include Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, Mutual Housing California, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and the City of Sacramento.

“All Californians deserve to have access to the very cleanest vehicles, especially in the neighborhoods that need them the most,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “This investment is a triple play: It helps clean the air, fights climate change and improves the quality of life for those who live in these communities. That’s a good use of cap-and-trade proceeds by any measure.”

Vehicle emissions contribute more than 70 percent of the pollutants that form ground-level ozone in Sacramento. The region does not meet federal health standards for ozone. High ozone concentrations trigger asthma attacks and damage lungs. Reducing transportation emissions is Sacramento’s best path toward protecting air quality.

The Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD protects air quality on behalf of the residents of Sacramento County. For more information, visit

California Climate Investments

Our Community CarShare Sacramento is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.

The cap-and-trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are made in disadvantaged and low-income communities. For more information, visit


Lauren Michele, Principal / Founder, Policy in Motion 

Policy in Motion offers planning practitioners, policy makers, and public agencies an understanding of how to integrate sustainability policy into transportation infrastructure and land use decisions. Lauren Michele’s 2011 book, “Policy in Motion: Transportation Planning in California after AB 32” explores the State’s evolving policies for sustainable living through transportation planning. Lauren’s 2012 film documentary, “Policy in Motion: Growing Beautiful Communities” continues to explore how an integrated approach to transportation planning and funding based on “People-Oriented Development” (POD) can improve community quality of life while meeting California’s environmental and economic goals. Policy in Motion’s book and film are available for purchase on-line at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and



Governor Doubles Transportation Cap and Trade Funding in May Budget Revison

2015-16 Cap and Trade Expenditure Plan

California Governor Jerry Brown’s May Budget Revision released last week includes a proposal to increase Cap and Trade expenditures by $1.245 Billion due to higher than anticipated AB 32 auction revenue. This proposed increase brings the total amount of Cap and Trade expenditures to $2.237 Billion, with the Transportation sector accounting for 72% of total funds.  SB 375 related programs — including SGC’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program ($400M), CalSTA’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program ($265M), and the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program ($100M) — account for 35% of the total cap and trade expenditures.  Additional proposals for transportation investments include CARB’s Low Carbon Transportation Program ($350M) and the High-Speed Rail Authority’s Project ($500M).

Details of the entire May Revise Summary can be viewed here:

Cap and Trade Resource Center
For an overview on how California’s cap and trade program works and a summary of 13 cap and trade funding programs, check out Policy in Motion’s “Cap & Trade 101” materials on-line at the Institute for Local Government’s website, download as a full brochure, and/or view as an Infographic!

California Policy Cap and Trade Education/Webinars GHG Reduction Livable Communities Local Government NewsFlash SB 375 State Policy Transportation Funding

Cap and Trade Resource Center Launches! Website + Infographic + Brochure (with a side of Podcast) 

Multi-Media Transportation Policy

This month, Policy in Motion is pleased to announce two exciting communications projects that will help local governments and interested stakeholders better understand the basics of transportation planning and new grant funding opportunities under California’s new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

If you happen to be one of the 216,000 people following Streetsblog podcaster, Jeff Wood, on twitter you may have heard that Policy in Motion’s Lauren Michele was recently featured on a podcast called Remaking California’s Transportation System for People and Their Environment. This first podcast in a three part series looks at California’s move to change the way transportation is funded and organized at the state level. With major environmental laws passed in the last decade that focus on reducing greenhouse gasses, California is on the cusp of great change. Lauren Michele and Kate White, Deputy Secretary for Environmental Policy and Housing at CALSTA, were hosted in Part 1 to talk about the new laws and the consolidation of state transportation departments under one agency.  Listen to the 13 minute segment on-line or on your phone here.

Policy in Motion worked with the Institute for Local Government (ILG) to launch a new “Cap and Trade Resource Center” this month – a one stop shop for locals to get a reader’s digest version of how California’s cap and trade program works, and what grant funding is available for local governments.  Lauren Michele developed the content and materials for ILG’s Resource Center, which summarizes 13 new and existing state agency grant programs funded through AB 32 cap and trade auction revenues that could fund or support local government sustainability efforts.

The information can be found on-line at ILG’s website, downloaded as a full brochure, and/or viewed as an Infographic!

Lauren Michele, Principal / Founder, Policy in Motion.

Lauren earned a Master’s of Science degree from the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies after working as a transportation planning professional at Fehr & Peers, a climate change policy analyst at the Center for Clean Air Policy in Washington D.C., and an air quality program assistant at the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.  At the UC Davis Urban Land Use and Transportation Center (ULTRANS) she focused on the links between California’s Senate Bill 375 and developing federal climate/energy legislation and the transportation reauthorization.  Her academic work includes teaching undergraduate courses in Transportation Policy at UC Davis and experiential learning while living and researching multi-modal transportation planning in Europe.

Lauren organized and served as Policy Director for the Transportation Coalition for Livable Communities — a coalition which includes the California Alliance for Jobs, California Transit Association, National Resources Defense Council, League of California Cities, State Association of Counties, and the Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Councils of Governments throughout the state. The Coalition promotes the investment of cap and trade revenue to address both the greenhouse gas reduction goals of AB 32 and critical transportation system maintenance and operation needs that build on the framework of SB 375 and other GHG reduction strategies.

Her firm, Policy in Motion, specializes in sustainable transportation policy.  Policy in Motion offers planning practitioners, policy makers, and public agencies an understanding of how to integrate sustainability policy into transportation infrastructure and land use decisions.  Lauren Michele’s 2011 book, “Policy in Motion: Transportation Planning in California after AB 32” explores the State’s evolving policies for sustainable living through transportation planning, and identifies how outdated regulatory frameworks must be aligned with supporting paradigm shifts if California is to move forward in a truly unified vision for “People-Oriented Development” and transportation.  Lauren’s 2012 film documentary, “Policy in Motion: Growing Beautiful Communities” continues to explore how an integrated approach to transportation planning and funding based on “People-Oriented Development” (POD) can improve community quality of life while meeting California’s environmental and economic goals. Policy in Motion’s book and film are available for purchase on-line at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and