Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez take part in a Politifest panel. / Photo by Vito Di Stefano

When the Legislature reconvenes in January, it will have many new faces and a few old bills.

Earlier this month, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez announced she plans to bring back a bill to end forced arbitration in employment contracts, and Assemblyman Todd Gloria said he’s doing the same with his bill to compel counties to spend more money on mental health services.

Senator-elect Brian Jones also shared plans to revive certain bills he worked on when he was a member of the Assembly related to veterans hiring preferences and cancer registry requirements.

Now Gonzalez and other San Diego lawmakers say there are even more bills that will be making a comeback.

To be clear, it’s still early to be talking about 2019 bills – Sens. Toni Atkins and Ben Hueso, for example, said that they’re still in the planning stages and don’t know yet whether they plan to revive any previous efforts. Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (more on him in a minute … ) also said through a spokesman that he has not yet decided whether to re-introduce previous bills.

But others have already zeroed in on bills they plan to revive.

At Politifest in October, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber discussed her high-profile effort to change the standards by which police in California can deploy deadly force. She agreed to pause that bill just before the end of the legislative session, under intense opposition from law enforcement groups, and to revive it in the next session in some form.

Weber said at the event that Atkins stepped in and took the bill under her control to help it make it through the Senate Appropriations Committee vote. As they were surveying the scene to see whether it could pass the full Legislature, Weber said Atkins worried they didn’t have the votes and that “it would not look good if the bill didn’t pass.”

“So we agreed to table the bill,” Weber said. “It will be reintroduced in December. It has the support of the president pro tem of the Senate. She has told them that something will happen in California to change policing.”

Voters in Washington state just passed an initiative in November that is similar to Weber’s effort.

Gonzalez said she’s planning to bring back at least five bills. On top of the arbitration bill, she plans to revive bills related to extending the statute of limitations on childhood sexual assault, protecting janitorial workers from harassment, preventing employment retaliation against workers who experience sexual harassment and, finally, a measure related to women’s compensation and breast cancer that she’s been pursuing in various forms for virtually her whole legislative career.

After her most recent attempt on the workers’ compensation bill, Gov. Jerry Brown threw her a bone in his veto message by instructing the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation to study the issue. Gonzalez said she’s going to try again despite that mandate.

“I clearly can get them through the Legislature, and it’s easier when it’s something people have already voted for. That part is easy,” Gonzalez said. The hard part has been Brown.

Gonzalez said Brown’s departure changes the calculus for some of the measures she’s been pushing for years. Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom expressed on the campaign trail support for a bill she wrote protecting women from being fired over a pregnancy. So she plans to bring that one back too.

Gonzalez noted that Brown tended to reject bills that included tax exemptions, so she expects some bills like ones exempting diapers and tampons from certain taxes will also be back.

Meanwhile, Jones will have some help on his effort to revive a bill allowing employers to voluntarily institute hiring preferences for veterans. Assemblyman Randy Voepel, who won Jones’ seat when Jones left the Assembly, introduced a similar bill and said he too plans to bring it back.

Voepel also said he plans to revive earlier bills that would create a pilot program for state employees to bring their infants to work, another that would create pilot program to test a program at California colleges where students pay tuition based on a percentage of their income, plus a bill to help lower taxes on student debt.

Voepel’s chief of staff noted that the income-share agreement bill and the pilot program to allow infants at work passed with no opposition until they died in the Senate appropriations committee.

Outside of the San Diego delegation, expect to see more revived bills, including a new version of perhaps last session’s most high-profile measure, SB 827, which would have allowed developers to more easily build dense projects near transit.

Back to Maienschein …

On Election Night, it appeared that Assemblyman Brian Maienschein would have a much smaller winning percentage than he has in previous years – but a solid win nonetheless.

That’s changed over the last week as Democrat Sunday Gover has chipped away at Maienschein’s lead in subsequent vote count updates. Maienschein is now leading by fewer than 4,000 votes. It’s not clear whether there are enough outstanding uncounted votes for Gover to make up the gap – but it’s certainly going to be close.

Maienschein had significantly more campaign cash on hand going into the race, but local Democrats sensed a pickup opportunity and made the contest a priority.

With or without Maienschein, the Legislature will be more blue when it reconvenes, CALmatters notes.

Golden State News

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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