The Morning Report
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Back in August, we laid out the bills written by local lawmakers that we’d be watching closely as the session neared its end. This week was the final sprint for all bills to make their way to the governor’s desk.
Here’s how those bills fared:
Senate leader Toni Atkins’ bill to prevent a rollback of environmental regulations by the Trump administration cleared the Senate in the spring but slowed in the Assembly in recent weeks. The proposal would effectively adopt Obama-era environmental and safety rules, which is why environmental and labor groups like it. But the state’s largest water agencies also worry that it could hurt water supplies in the Central Valley and Southern California. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has also raised concerns that the bill would freeze regulations in place, preventing state leaders from “incorporating the latest science and other information in permitting decisions,” the L.A. Times reports.
The bill to limit medical vaccine exemptions, which was inspired in part by VOSD’s reporting, generated endless drama this session – including an assault on the bill’s author, Sen. Richard Pan, by anti-vaccine activists. Those activists also shut down activities within the Senate and Assembly several times by shouting, agitating and otherwise disrupting legislative business.
Gov. Gavin Newsom stirred up drama of his own when, late in the game, he announced he wouldn’t sign the measure without additional changes. That came as a shock to legislators, who’d already added changes Newsom had sought earlier – changes he said would ensure his signature. The last-minute request generated some bad blood, including from the mild-mannered Atkins, who wrote on Twitter: “SB 276 has been vigorously vetted and negotiated for months and deserves to be enacted on its merits in the form that was agreed to… Besides the clear public health value of SB 276, it is important that we send the message that loud and violent will not drown out reason and science in how we govern California.”
Newsom signed SB 276 – and the companion measure he demanded – into law within minutes of them arriving at his desk.
After months of stripper press conferences, trucker drive-bys and panicked newspaper editorials, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s measure to rein in worker misclassification passed. Newsom has suggested he’ll sign it. If he does, Uber has already said it won’t re-classify its drivers because it doesn’t believe what they do is central to the company’s business – one of the factors that determines whether someone should be considered an employee. Uber and other gig companies have also poured tens of millions of dollars into a potential ballot measure to overturn the law.
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s bill requiring schools to offer full-day kindergarten programs passed the Assembly on Monday after passing the Senate last week. It now includes amendments that would make exceptions for schools that don’t have adequate facilities. Weber has argued that full-day kindergarten programs help close the achievement gap, and it could cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars to implement. Newsom appears to be on Weber’s side, though. He’s made full-day kindergarten part of his educational priorities, setting aside $300 million in his budget for new or retrofitted facilities that could support such programs.
This one breezed through the Assembly in the spring and cleared the Senate on Monday with a unanimous vote. Co-written by Gonzalez and Assemblyman Randy Voepel, AB 372 allows a state employee who is a new parent or caregiver to bring the infant to the workplace. California would oversee a pilot program in 2020 and 2021.
Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s bill to prohibit the sale of guns or ammunition anywhere on the Del Mar Fairgrounds property starting in 2021 passed. Newsom has offered reason to believe he’ll sign it.
This one is headed to Newsom too. AB 1413 would let SANDAG, MTS and other transit agencies to propose new taxes for some subsections of the areas they cover. In that case, tax-averse areas could be exempt from both paying the tax and voting to approve it, potentially boosting the electoral prospects of transit-focused ballot measures.
Gonzalez introduced AB 1730 to accommodate SANDAG’s attempt to overhaul its long-term plan for transportation throughout San Diego County. SANDAG Director Hasan Ikhrata said this spring that any plan for highways and transit that resembled those the agency has passed in recent years could not meet state greenhouse gas reduction mandates. He proposed starting from scratch, but there was a problem: the agency was due to adopt a new plan by the end of this year, and without a plan in place the region would lose out on state funding. AB 1730 simply extends the deadline, allowing SANDAG to write its new plan without jeopardizing state funding opportunities. It passed the Senate and Assembly this week and now goes to the governor’s desk for a signature.
In response to reporting by both NBC 7 and VOSD, Gonzalez introduced AB 1747 to stop immigration officials from accessing the personal information of undocumented residents in a state database. In several arrests by ICE, agents had copies of immigrants’ driver’s licenses or other information they provided to the DMV. It’s expected to come up for a vote in the Senate on Friday.
AB 467 by Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath requires that competitions being held on state land offer equal prize amounts for each gender.
AB 309 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein extends exemptions from the general prohibition against owning or operating a vehicle with law enforcement markings.
SANDAG Foes Want to Limit Transit Spending
Also this week, Assemblywoman Marie Waldron introduced language that would prevent SANDAG from prioritizing public transit projects over freeway expansions that were previously promised to San Diego County voters in a 2004 ballot measure.
That measure extended TransNet, the county’s sales tax mechanism for transportation funding, but it’s since fallen at least $10 billion short of expectations. With a smaller pot of money at the region’s disposal, Ikhrata, sees an opportunity to rethink how people move around the region while meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals. He wants more of the money to go toward trains and buses.
Representatives of the county’s car-dependent rural and suburban areas are not happy. They don’t have the votes at the regional level to stop Ikhrata and his allies, so they’re not looking to the state Legislature for help. Waldron’s bill would mean county voters would have to approve any change to TransNet expenditures at a special election.
Golden State News
- CalMatters put together a run-down of the most interesting bills headed to the governor’s desk from lawmakers across the state.
- Big rent hikes could soon be illegal in California. If signed by Newsom, San Diego County would be subject to rent control for the first time. (LA Times)
- California lawmakers banned private prisons — including ICE detention centers. (The Guardian)
- A lawmaker in the middle of California’s digital privacy debate is married to a Ring executive, which raises ethical questions. (Politico)
Andrew Keatts contributed to this report.