State Bills in Brief: March 22-29

Mar 22, 2023

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

Policy committees are back in full swing and so is the League of California Cities’ weekly “upcoming legislative meetings on bills of interest to cities” story — but with a fresh coat of paint. Each week, Cal Cities breaks down the bills, policy committees, and legislative deadlines that city leaders need to know about.  

This week’s two biggest bills are about housing and behavioral health care, two of Cal Cities' top legislative priorities. Cal Cities is also engaging with legislators on measures related to transportation infrastructure, disaster relief, and recycling.

But before you dive into those measures, here’s a quick explanation of each section.

The first section, “Bills to act on” is about the measures with the biggest potential impact on cities. These are the bills that city leaders need to be hyper-focused on. If your city can only act on a few bills, consider making these bills a priority. Next is the “Other bills with major impacts” section. These bills may have less of an impact, but they are still extremely important to many, or even all, cities.

Last, is the “Bills to follow" section, which may not show up each week. These bills are being closely monitored for any potential changes, but will likely have a small, limited impact on cities — if at all. Anything can change though, which means these measures could become bills to act on!

The format of this article will be updated throughout the year in response to members' needs and feedback. To share feedback about this story, please email Brian Hendershot, managing editor for Cal Cities Advocate.

Bills to act on

Affordable housing and homelessness are top of mind for lawmakers, cities, and residents this year. Although legislators introduced some cooperative housing bills this session, most of them are the typical, one-size-fits-all approach. However, cities and lawmakers are much more aligned on ways to reduce and prevent homelessness.

SB 35 expansion advances out of committee

  • SB 35 sounds familiar. The 2017 legislation is one of the highest-profile housing laws in recent memory. SB 35 forces cities to approve certain multifamily housing sites. The law’s many requirements and exemptions are detailed on page six of a 2018 Cal Cities publication.
  • Just how bad is this expansion? SB 423 (Wiener) would expand SB 35 provisions to nearly all cities, allow the state to approve housing developments on its own property, and eliminate SB 35’s sunset date. Cal Cities opposes SB 423.  
  • When is the advocacy opportunity? The bill will be scheduled for a hearing in Senate Governance and Finance in the next few weeks. A list of all scheduled hearings is available below.

Lawmakers mull more changes to the behavioral health care system

  • What are the changes? SB 43 and SB 363 — both by Sen. Eggman — would make it easier to provide behavioral health care. SB 43 would update the definition of “gravely disabled” and SB 363 would create a real-time dashboard of available beds in psychiatric and substance abuse facilities respectively. Cal Cities supports both measures.
  • This also sounds familiar. Sen. Eggman introduced similar measures last year as part of an eight-bill legislative package. Ultimately, only three were signed into law.
  • When are the hearings? SB 363 will be heard in the Senate Health Committee on March 22. SB 43 will be heard on March 29 in the Senate Health Committee. Both meetings start at 1:30 p.m.

Other bills with major impacts

This year’s legislative priorities are becoming increasingly clear. These three bills have risen to the top in recent weeks, all with potentially positive outcomes for cities.

Cal Cities-sponsored bill makes it easier to build public projects on time and on budget

  • How? SB 706 (Caballero) would allow cities to use the progressive design-build process for all public projects over $5 million. The process reduces delays, mitigates risks early, and keeps costs low.
  • Progressive what? Often referred to as PDB, the process encourages greater collaboration between cities, designers, and contractors at the earliest stages of project development. Current law restricts the process to water projects over $5 million in cost.
  • What time is the hearing? The bill will be heard on March 29 in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, which starts at 9:30 a.m.

More trash talk at the Capitol

  • What changes are being proposed? AB 863 (Aguiar-Curry) would increase penalties associated with the violating state’s carpet stewardship program, a waste diversion and recycling program. SB 615 (Allen), among other things, would require all electric vehicle traction batteries to be recovered and reused, repurposed, remanufactured, or recycled at the end of their useful life.
  • What is Cal Cities’ position? Cal Cities supports AB 863 and supports SB 615 in concept. Notably, SB 615 would require manufacturers, dealers, and dismantlers to be responsible for end-of-life management.
  • When are the hearings scheduled? AB 863 is set for March 27 in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee at 2:30 p.m. SB 615 will be heard in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on March 29 at 9 a.m.

Bills to follow

The exact details of various pieces of legislation are still being hammered out. Cal Cities does not yet have a position on the bills below but will likely issue one later in the year.  

Three climate bonds to watch

  • What are the bills? SB 867 (Allen), SB 638 (Eggman), and AB 1567 (E. Garcia).
  • What do they do? These three measures collectively propose $20 billion in bonds for safe drinking water, wildfire prevention, drought preparation, flood protection, and extreme heat mitigation.
  • When are the hearings? SB 867 and SB 638 will be heard on March 28 in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, sometime after 9:30 a.m. AB 1567 is scheduled for April 18 in the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee.

Container redemption program could be expanded

  • What new items are included? SB 353 (Dodd) would expand the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act to include any size container of 100% fruit juice. The bill also makes some changes to how payments are processed.
  • Why it matters. The state-funded program cannot keep up with tumultuous scrap prices.
  • What time is the hearing? SB 353 will be heard on March 28 during the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. The hearing starts at 9:30 a.m.


Potential solar energy permitting mandate on the horizon

  • What changes are being discussed? Current law prescribes and limits permit fees for residential and commercial solar energy systems, which expire on Jan. 1, 2025. AB 1132 (Freidman) would extend that repeal date to Jan. 1, 2034.
  • When is the hearing? The bill will be heard on March 29 in the Assembly Local Government Committee, which starts at 1:30 p.m.

Bill mandates region-wide seal level rise plan for San Francisco Bay cities

  • What does it do? In addition to mandating a local coastal program, SB 272 (Laird) would require cities that receive approval for sea level rise planning and adaptation to be prioritized for related funding for the implementation of projects in their approved sea level rise adaptation plan.
  • What day is the hearing? SB 272 will be heard on March 28 in Senate Natural Resources and Water, which starts at 9:30 a.m.

View all bills to act on

View all tracked bill hearings