Here are the priority bills that made it out of suspense file — and the ones that didn’t

Aug 26, 2021

A decades-old way of promoting fiscal responsibility, the appropriations committees’ lightning-fast suspense file process determines which bills will move to the floor for debate. 

In a big win for cities, two strongly opposed measures, AB 1401 (Friedman) and SB 555 (McGuire), were held in the twice-yearly appropriations committee suspense file procedures, preventing the bills from moving forward this legislative session.  

Several League of California Cities supported measures that contain significant funding for cities, including  SB 1 (Atkins)AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry) SB 4 (Gonzalez), and SB 619 (Laird), passed out of suspense and will face a floor vote in the coming days.  

In total, of the 31 Cal Cities priority bills placed on the Senate and Assembly appropriations committee suspense files, nine were held and will not advance this year. 

Lawmakers have until September 10 to pass any remaining bills and the Governor has until October 10 to sign or veto any legislation that reaches his desk. The Governor has already taken action on some of the bills, including signing the Cal Cities-supported AB 332, which establishes a path for the safe handling and disposal of treated wood waste. A summary of the suspense file results, organized by policy area, is below.  

Community Service 

Two Cal Cities supported community service bills passed out of suspense AB 46 (Rivas) and SB 50 (Limón). AB 46 would establish the California Youth Empowerment Commission, which would formally advise and make recommendations to the Legislature and others on issues affecting California's disconnected and disadvantaged youth. SB 50 would expand the range of types of childcare and early learning services that a state preschool contracting agency may provide.  Other priority bills include: 

  • AB 536 (Rodriguez)  Office of Emergency Services: mutual aid gap analysis |Cal Cities Position: Support (Status: Held)  
  • AB 1071 (Rodriguez)  Office of Emergency Services: tabletop exercises |Cal Cities Position: Support (Status: Held) 
  • SB 344 (Hertzberg)  Homeless shelters grants: pets and veterinary services |Cal Cities Position: Support (Status: Held)  

Environmental Quality  

Cal Cities supports several bills that would provide significant funding and resources for environmental issues, most of which passed out of suspense. Notably, SB 1 (Atkins) would establish new planning, assessment, funding, and mitigation tools for California to address and respond to sea level rise. Similarly, SB 418 (Laird) would extend the sunset date of the existing Planning for Sea Level Rise Database for five years from January 1, 2023, to January 1, 2028.  

SB 619 (Laird) would give local governments additional time and flexibility to implement SB 1383 (Lara, 2016), organic waste regulations. Cal Cities supports the measure, as additional time and flexibility would prevent an increase in waste rates for residents, some of whom are facing significant, pandemic-related financial difficulties. SB 619 was passed as amended.  

Other priority bills include: 

  • AB 33 (Ting)  Energy Conservation Assistance Act of 1979: energy storage systems and electric vehicle charging infrastructure: Native American tribes |Cal Cities Position: (Status: Passed) 
  • AB 585 (Rivas, Luz)  Climate change: Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program |Cal Cities Position: Support (Status: Held)  
  • AB 897 (Mullin)  Office of Planning and Research: regional climate networks: regional climate adaptation and resilience action plans |Cal Cities Position: Support (Status: Held)  
  • AB 1201 (Ting)  Solid waste: products: labeling: compostability and biodegradability |Cal Cities Position: Support (Status: Passed as Amended) 
  • AB 1311 (Wood)  Recycling: beverage containers |Cal Cities Position: Support (Status: Passed) 
  • SB 99 (Dodd)  Community Energy Resilience Act of 2021|Cal Cities Position: Support (Status: Held)
  • SB 109 (Dodd)  Office of Emergency Services: Office of Emergency Technology Research and Development |Cal Cities Position: Support (Status: Passed)

Governance, Transparency, and Labor Relations 

Only three priority governance, transparency, and labor relations bills were placed on suspense. All three passed and will be voted on in the coming days.  

SB 270 (Durazo), which Cal Cities opposes, would authorize a public employee bargaining representative to file an unfair labor practice claim with the Public Employment Relations Board if their employer fails to provide certain employee information in a timely and accurate manner. This measure would subject the employer to civil penalties and a prevailing party’s attorney’s fees and costs. 

Cal Cities also opposes SB 284 (Stern), which would expand California’s current presumption for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for police officers and firefighters to public safety dispatchers, public safety telecommunications, and emergency response communication employees. The bill would functionally force public agencies to finance all PTSD claims, whether or not claims are related to work.  

SB 278 (Leyva) would require public agencies and schools to directly pay retirees and/or their beneficiaries disallowed retirement benefits using general fund and Proposition 98 dollars. Cal Cities opposes the measure, as it would give CalPERS no incentive to properly calculate benefit payments, create compliance and implementation issues, and potentially result in costly legal battles for cities

Housing, Community, and Economic Development 

Multiple Cal Cities opposed housing measures passed out of suspense, including AB 215 (Chiu) and AB 989 (Gabriel). The former would authorize the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to appoint or contract with other counsel if the Attorney General (AG) declines to represent the department in a lawsuit against a city. AB 215 would also allow a three-year statute of limitation to apply to any action or proceeding brought by the AG or HCD. 

AB 989 would create an Office of Housing Appeals within HCD, which would have the power to review alleged violations of the Housing Accountability Act for specified housing development projects. The bill allows an appeals panel, not a court, to overturn a local land use decision.  

Fortunately, AB 1401 (Friedman) was held in suspense. The bill would have given developers and transit agencies — who are unaccountable to local voters — the power to determine parking requirements and could have negatively impacted the State’s Density Bonus Law.  

Other priority bills include:  

  • AB 500 (Ward)  Local planning: coastal development: affordable housing |Cal Cities Position: Oppose/Amendments Pending (Status: Passed)
  • AB 602 (Grayson)  Development fees: impact fee nexus study |Cal Cities Position: Oppose Unless Amend (Status: Passed) 

Public Safety 

Multiple priority public safety bills with positive and negative potential impacts to cities were passed out of suspense. Only AB 718 (Cunningham), which Cal Cities supported, was held. The measure would have closed a loophole within SB 1421 (Skinner, 2018), which established parameters for the release of officer records. 

Both SB 2 (Bradford) and SB 16 (Skinner) passed out of suspense. The former would eliminate the federally recognized doctrine of qualified immunity and outlines a peace officer decertification process that undermines local control. However, related amendments to the bill were made today, which Cal Cities is reviewing.

SB 16, which Cal Cities opposes, would make every incident involving unreasonable or excessive force and any sustained finding that an officer failed to intervene against another officer using unreasonable or excessive force subject to disclosure.  

Cal Cities supports AB 89 (Jones-Sawyer), which also passed out of suspense. The measure lays out a comprehensive approach to creating minimum qualifications for future peace officers. The bill was recently amended and now takes a more nuanced, collaborative, and thoughtful approach to the law enforcement officer certification process. 

Other priority bills include:  

  • AB 48 (Gonzalez, Lorena)  Law enforcement: kinetic energy projectiles and chemical agents |Cal Cities Position: Oppose (Status: Passed)   
  • AB 61 (Gabriel) : Business pandemic relief |Cal Cities Position: Support pending amendments (Status: Passed)
  • SB 314 (Wiener)  Alcoholic beverages |Cal Cities Position: Support pending amendments (Status: Passed)  

Revenue and Taxation 

Only one bill was placed on suspense file in the revenue and taxation space: SB 555 (McGuire). The measure would have authorized a local agency to delegate its authority to collect their locally imposed transient occupancy tax (TOT) on short-term rentals to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. Cal Cities opposed the measure, as it would have resulted in less effective and less transparent TOT collection from short-term rentals and lacked several crucial reporting requirements. The bill was held in suspense.  

Transportation, Communications, and Public Works 

Both AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry) and SB 4 (Gonzalez), two Cal Cities-supported measures, passed out of suspense. The measures would prioritize the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities throughout California through the ongoing collection of the California Advanced Services Fund surcharge. They would also expand the definition of "unserved” to include areas with speeds slightly faster than dial-up, which is obsolete in an internet-driven economy. 

SB 341 (McGuire) also passed off of suspense. The measure would require the Office of Emergency Services, in coordination with the California Public Utilities Commission, to adopt regulations for public outage maps maintained by telecommunications providers on their websites. As California faces what has become a nearly year-round fire season, measures like SB 341 are a must for communities in high-risk fire areas.