State Bills in Brief: June 12-20

Jun 12, 2024

A weekly primer on the bills and committee hearings that have a direct impact on cities

By Brian Hendershot, Cal Cities Advocate managing editor. Additional contributions by the Cal Cities Advocacy Team

Lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom are busy figuring out answers to some multibillion-dollar questions this week, including the state budget. Although a deal is all but guaranteed — legislators need to pass a framework before June 15 — both sides will likely hammer out the finer details through additional bills before the budget takes effect on July 1.

A few differences remain though, such as whether to fund Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention grants and some affordable housing programs. The Legislature and the Governor are split on other issues, including childcare, prison reform, Medi-Cal reimbursements, and wage hikes for healthcare workers.

Policymakers generally agree some sort of reform is needed to mitigate the state’s cyclical boom-and-bust problems. But for now, state leaders are eyeing voter-approved bonds to fund the state’s biggest priorities. Legislators are feverishly debating the size and priorities for a November climate bond, which is picking up steam. They have until June 27 to reach a deal.

Speaking of June 27: The Governor and some legislative leaders are trying to remove a measure that would overhaul Proposition 47 from the November ballot. At stake is a 14-bill package aimed at reducing retail theft. The appropriations committees will likely hear the bills next week before sending them to the floor for a full vote.

For information about bills scheduled for a committee hearing through June 20, keep reading. To learn what each section means — or to access a previous State Bills in Brief — visit the archive page.

Hot bills

Lawmakers will review a dozen key bills between now and June 20.

Stricter retail theft penalties

  • Multiple jurisdictional theft. AB 1779 (Irwin) would allow prosecutors to file charges for offenses committed in different counties.
  • Grand theft larceny. AB 1794 (McCarty) would allow prosecutors to aggregate multiple thefts with several victims.
  • Enhanced sentencing. AB 1960 (Soria) would impose stiffer penalties for property loss or damage that occurred during a felony.
  • When are the hearings? June 17 at 10 a.m. in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Cal Cities supports all three measures.

Speaker’s retail theft bill

  • What would it do? AB 2943 (Zbur and Rivas) would create a new crime of “serial retail theft,” allow police to arrest shoplifters without witnessing the crime, and define a felony charge of grand theft. Cal Cities supports the measure if amended.
  • Proposed changes. Cal Cities is seeking changes that bring the bill in line with case law (People v. Bailey), allow police to use unsworn statements if they demonstrate probable cause, and clarify what successful probation looks like. 
  • When is the hearing? June 17 at 10 a.m. in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

CalPERS divestment up for consideration

  • Which funds? SB 252 (Gonzalez) would require the state’s pension funds to divest from fossil fuel companies. Cal Cities opposes the bill.
  • Internal pressure. CalPERS has long argued that pressuring companies from within does more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that divestment would have a significant, negative impact on the fund.
  • When is the hearing? June 19 at 9 a.m. in the Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee.

Better recovery housing oversight 

  • Greater transparency. AB 2081 (Davies) would require operators of licensed treatment facilities to disclose to potential patients that they can check the Department of Health Care Services website to confirm a facility’s compliance with state licensing laws. Cal Cities is co-sponsoring the measure.
  • Improved reporting. AB 2574 (Valencia) would expand reporting requirements for licensed treatment facility operators to improve the state’s oversight of sober living homes operating as an integral part of a licensed treatment facility located elsewhere in the community. Cal Cities is sponsoring the measure.
  • When were the hearings? Both bills passed out of the Senate Health Committee on June 12 and are now headed to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

A $50,000 monthly fine for cities

  • What now?! SB 1037 (Wiener) would allow the state attorney general to ask a court to fine a city that fails to adopt a compliant housing element or violates state laws that require ministerial approval of certain housing projects. The court could also fine cities for land use or permitting decisions that are “contrary to established public policy, unlawful, or procedurally unfair.” Cal Cities opposes the measure.
  • Can’t the attorney general take legal action already? Unlike existing laws, SB 1037 does not give cities time to correct their actions. Even cities acting in good faith would need to pay the attorney general for all investigating and prosecuting costs for a vague, undefined violation of state law.
  • When was the hearing? June 12 at 9 a.m. in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.

Another unfunded mandate

  • What would the bill do? AB 1725 (McCarty) would force cities to post information about major use-of-force settlements and judgments on their websites. Cal Cities opposes the measure. 
  • Why it matters. Cal Cities supports increased accountability. However, cities settle most cases outside of court for economic reasons. Posting this information would create an inaccurate picture of law enforcement interactions and conduct.
  •  When is the hearing? June 17 at 10 a.m. in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

No more self-certification for housing elements

  • Changing housing element law. AB 1886 (Alvarez) would remove the ability of cities to self-certify housing plans that are “in substantial compliance with housing element law.” This would encourage more developers to bypass local zoning laws in favor of the so-called builder’s remedy. Cal Cities opposes the measure.
  • Unhelpful. Housing elements take years to develop. Cities often receive unclear or conflicting guidance about their plans. Instead of punishing good faith efforts, the state should help cities finalize their housing elements and put those plans to work.
  • When is the hearing? June 18 at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Housing Committee.

Builder’s remedy safeguards come with a price

  • The good. AB 1893 (Wicks) would place some guardrails on builder’s remedy projects by restricting their location. Cal Cities opposes the measure unless amended.
  • The bad. Cities could impose objective building standards or limit density. Cal Cities is urging lawmakers to require the Department of Housing and Community Development to provide cities with technical assistance and clear guidance on how to substantially comply with housing element law to avoid the builder’s remedy altogether.
  • When is the hearing? June 18 at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Housing Committee.

Cal Cities-sponsored measure would help reduce methane emissions

  • Clarification and support. SB 972 (Min) would require CalRecycle to strengthen its assistance efforts for cities actively working to reduce organic waste and methane emissions. The agency would also need to report back to the Legislature on the organic waste diversion progress and alignment with the state’s other climate goals.
  • Progress so far. A 2023 report found that the amount of organic waste in landfills increased by a million tons between 2014 and 2020, a trend at odds with the goal of reducing methane emissions. Cal Cities’ bill would help local jurisdictions achieve these goals and ensure the Legislature can reflect on the progress made.
  • When is the hearing? June 17 at 2:30 p.m. in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.

Priority bills

Lawmakers are reviewing several housing, public safety, environmental, transportation, and broadband measures.

Post-release clarification

  • Rehabilitation report. AB 2766 (Low) would provide more information on what an inmate did to earn early release. Cal Cities supports the measure.
  • What does existing law say? Currently, only basic information can be released without written authorization from the inmate or parolee. Increasing transparency would help ensure that the state corrections department is properly utilizing sentencing credits.
  • When is the hearing? June 18 at 8:30 a.m. in the Senate Public Safety Committee.

Post-release reform

  • Better records. SB 1262 (Archuleta) would require county officials to revoke post-release community supervision if someone violates the terms of their release for a third time or commits a new offense. Cal Cities supports the measure.
  • Why it matters. By prioritizing accountability, this measure would help ensure that only those who are actively working to reenter the community receive post-release supervision.
  • What is the next hearing? June 18 at 9 a.m. in the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

Edible food recovery assistance

  • Financial help. AB 2311 (Bennett) would broaden a state grant program to include edible food recovery projects. Cal Cities supports the measure.
  • Something to chew on. State law requires that Californians recover 20% of edible food that would otherwise go to landfills by 2025. Many cities, especially smaller and rural cities, lack the funding needed to improve recovery efforts.
  • When is the hearing? June 19 at 9 a.m. in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.

Cal Cities-sponsored bill put cities in the driver’s seat

  • What would the bill do? SB 915 (Cortese) would allow local law enforcement and first responders to intervene when a driverless vehicle interrupts an emergency response.
  • Why it matters. Autonomous vehicles have repeatedly caused large traffic jams, frequently blocking emergency vehicles responding to calls.
  • When is the hearing? June 17 at 2:30 p.m. in the Assembly Transportation Committee.

Refillable propane cylinders

  • A solid environmental win. SB 1280 (Laird) would require one-pound propane cylinders sold in the state to be reusable or refillable. Cal Cities supports the measure.
  • Propane and propane accessories. Small propane cylinders are very expensive for local governments to manage. Making them refillable and reusable would help keep them out of landfills.
  • When is the hearing? June 17 at 2:30 p.m. in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.

Wildlife corridors and city planning

  • Nature-based planning. AB 2320 (Irwin) would require the California Natural Resources Agency to identify key wildlife corridors annually and set goals for protecting these areas looking five years ahead. Cal Cities supports the measure.
  • Long-term planning. The state is seeking to conserve 30% of the state’s lands and coastal waters by 2030. Identifying wildlife corridors ahead of that goal will ensure local leaders include them in their planning efforts.  
  • When is the hearing? June 17 at 3 p.m. or upon adjournment of session in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.

Cannabis site restoration

  • Mitigating environmental harm. AB 2643 (Wood) would create a framework for cannabis site restoration and create a related, biannual meeting for stakeholders. The bill would also make it easier for officials to identify illicit cultivation sites on public lands. Cal Cities supports the measure.
  • An icky situation. Illicit cannabis cultivation can result in habitat destruction, water diversions, and the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
  • When is the hearing? June 17 at 3 p.m. or upon adjournment of session in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.

Beefing up broadband reports

  • Essential service. AB 2708 (Patterson, Jim) would require the Office of Broadband and Digital Literacy to include additional information in its annual legislative report about the statewide, open-access middle-mile broadband network. Cal Cities supports the measure.
  • Essential coordination. Having detailed information about available funding, costs, and estimated completion dates will allow cities to better plan and coordinate local efforts to improve broadband access.
  • When is the hearing? June 17 at 10 a.m. in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Lawmakers have set a smattering of other priority measures for hearings over the next few days: SB 37 (Caballero), SB 937 (Wiener), SB 1045 (Blakespear), AB 1782 (Ta), AB 2207 (Reyes), AB 2410 (Wallis), AB 2243 (Wicks), and AB 2902 (Wood).

Retail theft bills AB 1802 (Jones-Sawyer) and AB 1972 (Alanis) are also scheduled for hearings soon. The remaining measures in the public safety package have not yet been set for a hearing as of Wednesday morning.

Hearing times and bills are subject to change. For an up-to-date list of bill hearings, click the link below.

View all tracked bill hearings