Legislative assembly

California politics: At legislative halftime, bills to watch in Sacramento

Members of the California Legislative Assembly will use the Memorial Day holiday weekend to recover from long sessions in Sacramento this week to wrap up the first half of their legislative work for the year.

The Senate and state Assembly hold rare floor sessions on Fridays to finish their work on dozens of bills — in part to make sure Monday’s recess doesn’t trigger a three-day recess that will reduce legislators’ daily salary supplements.

But Friday also marks the “home of origin” deadline, the date by which bills must clear their first legislative hurdles so the process can begin again on the other side of the state Capitol. The legislative session ends on August 31.

More than 2,000 bills have been introduced by legislators this year, along with a few dozen solemn resolutions and a few constitutional amendments. Most have already not advanced and even many of the bills that will now trade places in the Senate and the Assembly will not make it to government. Gavin Newsomoffice.

Halfway through, it’s worth taking a quick look at some of the most notable bills of the year.

Strong odds on homelessness, guns, abortion

State Capitol watchers know that one should never underestimate the effect of outside events and powerful politicians in pushing big policy changes into law.

The past four weeks have reshaped the Legislature‘s focus for the year, a period that began with the leaking of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn abortion rights. and extended to Tuesday’s mass shooting at a Texas school, the country’s third fatal shooting this month. .

Backed by their overwhelming legislative majority — 31 of the state’s 40 senators, 58 of 80 Assembly members — Democrats and Newsom have vowed to act on several bills to restore the state’s liberal reputation on both subjects.

Senate Bill 1375 would allow nurse practitioners to work independently of doctors to provide abortion services, a proposal that was approved by the Senate on Wednesday. On the same day, senators sent Senate Bill 1142 to the Assembly, an effort to create a fund for private donations that could cover abortion services, including those sought by women traveling from other states.

A number of gun control bills were introduced this week by Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders, with promises that some of them could become law before Jan. 1. The list includes Senate Bill 1327, a sweeping effort to give citizens the right to sue. gun manufacturers and Senate Bill 906, requiring school officials to investigate mass shooting threats and report concerns to a law enforcement agency.

Less clear is the outcome of the year’s biggest homelessness bill, the one that follows Newsom’s promise of a civil legal process to order mental health services for people with certain illnesses. related to schizophrenia. Senate Bill 1338 was sent to the Assembly on Wednesday, but with significant questions about the costs and complexity of new legal and behavioral health operations. Newsom is investing considerable political capital in this effort.

Six more bills to watch

Not all bills of note have received much attention so far this year. Here are half a dozen proposals that offer interesting political debates in the weeks to come:

  • Threats of Online Violence: Senate Bill 1056 by State Senator. Tom Umberg (D-Orange) would require a social media platform to clearly post its policies regarding threatening posts and, if the company refuses to remove a threatening post, allow a California resident to seek an injunction in court. The bill won votes from both sides of the aisle this week.
  • Tax Credit for Renters: Senate Bill 843 by State Senator. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), approved by the Senate on Tuesday, would increase the tax relief available to renters – the first such boost in the program since 1979. Joint filers who now receive a small tax credit of $120 would be eligible for up to $1,000.
  • Bridge Toll Debt: Assembly Bill 2594 by Member of Assembly Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) would give drivers a chance to settle their debts for bridge or roadway tolls before late fees and fines become what Ting calls “crushing debt.” The bill was sent to the Senate on Wednesday.
  • Showing salaries: Senate Bill 1162 by state Sen. Monique Limon (D-Goleta) would gradually expand requirements for some employers to disclose wage data, a change that supporters of the bill say would bring some fairness to wages paid to women and workers of color. The bill, sent to the Assembly on Tuesday, would require pay scales with job offers and make public some information about the salaries that employers already provide to state officials. Some of the changes would take place over a four-year period.
  • Student Activism: Senate Bill 955 by State Senator. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) would give middle and high school students one excused absence per year to attend a civic or political event. This could include protests, town halls or other ways to engage with community issues.
  • Wrong Way, Freeway: Assembly Bill 1778 by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) would link environmental justice issues to the decision to expand or build new highways. The bill’s parameters would require state officials to use health-related social conditions — compiled as a score using the California Healthy Places Index — to decide where to build. Plots of land in communities with low scores could not be used for a variety of highway improvement projects. The bill was inspired by the Times’ investigation last year into freeway projects across the country.

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California political flash

– Newsom signed a bill Monday to increase the amount of money patients can receive in medical malpractice cases, increasing pain and suffering payments for the first time since lawmakers capped damages- interests nearly five decades ago.

– California could soon hold social media companies liable for harming children who have become addicted to their products, allowing parents to sue platforms such as Instagram and TikTok for up to $25,000 per violation under a draft bill passed by the State Assembly.

– Six candidates filed a candidacy against the state superintendent. public education Tony Thurmond for a four-year term as head of California schools during the June 7 primary. But none have the political perks of the incumbent.

— What’s behind the mysterious letter about efforts to oppose the ban on single-use plastics? The sender could be an attempt to derail a November state ballot measure.

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