California’s Capitol dome / Image via Shutterstock
California’s Capitol dome / Image via Shutterstock

Friday is the last day for lawmakers to introduce new bills, so a crush of new ones are being introduced this week.

I scoured local legislators’ bill packages and pulled out some of the most interesting ones here:

SB 1100 by Sen. Toni Atkins would take a number of steps to address sea-level rise, including requiring the California Coastal Commission to consider it in its planning processes, establishing a new collaborative to address sea-level rise and providing funding for local governments to address and mitigate rising seas.

SB 1203 by Sen. Brian Jones would require the Department of Justice to administer a competitive grant program to “to enable local law enforcement agencies to establish and operate homeless outreach teams.”

SB 1216 by Sen. Ben Hueso would prevent health facilities from prohibiting or interfering with a terminally ill patient’s use of medicinal cannabis within the facility.

AB 2822 and AB 2823 by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron join a stack of Republican-led bills seeking to chip away at AB 5, the law written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez last year that limits employers’ use of independent contractors. AB 2822 would exempt transportation network companies from the law; AB 2823 would exempt land surveyors, landscape architects, geologists and geophysicists and construction managers or planners.

AB 2281 by Assemblyman Randy Voepel would grant veterans free access to state parks.

AB 2344 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez would prevent mixed-income housing from including separate entrances for different tenants and require that all tenants have access to the same common areas and amenities. The bill was inspired by a Union-Tribune story revealing an East Village developer planned to include housing for low-income tenants that was separate from the main entrance and wouldn’t allow them access to a pool or roof deck.

AB 2345 by Gonzalez would update the state’s density bonus law to look more like San Diego’s. Current law lets developers build more units than otherwise allowed if they include subsidized units within the project. Gonzalez’s measure would increase the bonus significantly.

AB 2568 by Brian Maienschein would require cities or counties that license kennel operators to require those operators to submit an animal natural disaster evacuation plan. (It wouldn’t be a Maienschein bill package without some dog bills.)

AB 2601 by Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath and co-written by Waldron would fund a pilot program in San Diego County “to establish a unit of care coordinators whose responsibility will be to manage all of the details of a patient’s care to facilitate continued access to services and improve the quality of medical and mental health service delivery.”

AB 2788 by Assemblyman Todd Gloria “would prohibit an electrical corporation, gas corporation, or local publicly owned electric utility from sharing, disclosing, or otherwise making accessible to any immigration authority a customer’s electrical or gas consumption data without a court-ordered subpoena or judicial warrant.”

AB 2803 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber just includes intent language for now – placeholder text before the meat of the bill is written – but “would prohibit a school district from assigning novice teachers to fill more than 10% of the teaching positions at a particular school.” A recent Voice of San Diego analysis found that teachers in the most high-need schools in the district tend to have less experience than teachers in more affluent schools. “At Fulton K-8 and Millennial Tech Middle School, for instance, teachers have far less experience than other schools in the district – within recent years, 38 percent of teachers in both schools were in their first or second year on the job.”

Hueso, Senate Republicans Introduce Competing Military Pay Bills

Since San Diego is home to a sizable military population, its lawmakers often focus on efforts to help service members and veterans. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that multiple San Diego lawmakers ended up proposing virtually the same idea in separate bills.

Both SB 1007 by San Diego Sen. Ben Hueso, a Democrat, and SB 1071 by Republican Sens. Scott Wilk and Pat Bates and Democratic Sen. Bob Archuleta, would exempt military retirement pay from state income taxes.

Hueso’s bill would exempt all retirement pay beginning Jan. 1, 2021, while the other bill would phase out the income tax in phases: For the first year, beginning Jan. 1, 2021, 50 percent of the pay would be exempt, for the second and third years, 75 percent would be exempt and in the fourth year and beyond 100 percent of military retirement pay would be exempt.

Ronald Ongtoaboc, a spokesman for Bates, said the phased-in approach “would cost the state less tax revenue as opposed to an all-at-once exemption.”

He said the measure was crafted that way to avoid the fate of a similar bill that stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee last year. The two measures introduced this bill “an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation on the issue in the Senate in the weeks ahead,” Ongtoaboc said.

“This occurs often in the Legislature,” said Erin Hickey, a spokeswoman for Hueso. “It’s early on in the process so we have some time to work on this.”

Lawmakers Walk a Fine Line Reacting to Newsom’s State of the State

Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered his State of the State speech this week, and took the unusual step of devoting most of the address to homelessness.

“Every day, the California Dream is dimmed by the wrenching reality of families, children and seniors living unfed on a concrete bed,” Newsom said.

Senate President Pro Tem walked a fine line between praising Newsom’s attention and urgency on the issue and being wary of any solutions that might bypass local governments.

“Coming out of local government, I believe we need to respect local control, but with that control must also come responsibility from local officials to actually provide services and build housing. And, at every level of government, we need to provide more of the certainty that will enable more affordable housing units to be built,” Atkins said in a statement. “Clearly, with all the challenges involved, this is not a time for the Legislature to be either a rubber stamp or a bottleneck.”

Republicans walked their own line: They too offered tepid praise of Newsom while emphasizing that money spent to address homelessness must come with strict accountability measures and chiding the governor that homelessness has worsened under Democratic rule.

“What Governor Newsom presented today was another expensive vision, but, before he proposes more, where did last year’s $1.2 billion go, and when can Californians expect to see results?” Sen. Brian Jones wrote in a statement.

“The governor is right when he says it is disgraceful that the state is failing to address homelessness and noted many contributing factors to the crisis. Those factors combined with recent soft-on-crime measures and more than nine years of one-party control of state government have led us to where we are today,” said Sen. Pat Bates. “However, I look forward to working with the governor on solutions that will provide shelter and services to those in need and making our streets cleaner and safer.”

The Rise of Legislative Nonprofits

A new CalMatters series documents the rise of legislative nonprofits and the ethical lines they toe.

“The trend underscores the expanding role of money in politics since restrictions on political spending by corporations, including nonprofits, were lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision,” CalMatters reports. “While California law caps the amount donors can contribute to politicians’ campaigns, donations to nonprofits are not limited.”

Several San Diego lawmakers play leading roles in those nonprofits.

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber chairs the Legislature’s Black Caucus, which CalMatters notes accepts donations from groups that lawmakers themselves won’t take money from – groups like oil and tobacco companies and Wal-Mart.

“We are not the party,” said Weber told CalMatters. “We don’t take positions against this group or that group, whether it’s smoking or alcohol.”

Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez chairs the Legislature’s Latino Caucus, which is planning an educational trip to Cuba. Gonzalez told members in a memo that the Latino Caucus Foundation might cover some members’ travel costs but later told CalMatters that it likely would only pay for two staff members’ trips.

Golden State News

Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Ronald Ongtoaboc.

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

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