Controversial legislation granting Anschutz Entertainment Group the right to expedite legal challenges to a proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles passed the state Assembly on Wednesday.

The bill by two Democratic lawmakers from Los Angeles County – Assembly Speaker John Perez and Sen. Alex Padilla – allows AEG to fast-track any legal challenges raised by stadium opponents under the California Environmental Quality Act. It also requires AEG to take additional steps to reduce the environmental and traffic impacts of the stadium on the surrounding neighborhood.

Environmentalists initially opposed the bill when it was unveiled last week, saying the mitigation measures were insufficient and that the legislation set a precedent for exemptions to CEQA.

But late Tuesday, two major environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the California League of Conservation Voters, agreed to drop their opposition, clearing the way for the 59-13 vote today in the Assembly.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it must pass before the Legislature adjourns on Friday.

AEG is proposing to build a 78,000-seat retractable roof stadium next to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The plan also calls for the demolition of the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center and the building of a new hall on the south side. The stadium also could be configured to host conventions.

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