State Bills in Brief: March 29-April 5
A weekly primer on the bills and committee hearings that have a direct impact on cities
The legislative cycle is defined by sprints and this week is no different. Spring recess starts on March 30, with the Legislature reconvening on April 10. Lawmakers and lobbyists are racing through the last few days of March and the first week back from recess will be equally frenetic.
Lawmakers will debate a few high-profile bills in the waning days of March and one of the League of California Cities’ top 2023 legislative priorities — Proposition 47 reform — will be discussed on April 11. More concerning is what’s not on the legislative docket: Assembly Public Safety Committee Chair Reggie Jones-Sawyer is holding all fentanyl-related public safety legislation, including AB 367 (Maienschein). The bill is sponsored by the city of San Diego and supported by Cal Cities.
Citing the nearly two dozen illegal fentanyl bills, Jones-Sawyer stated, “The fentanyl issue requires comprehensive input from a variety of experts and stakeholders in order to establish a united approach to solving the matter. ... Moving forward, I intend to work on this issue by bringing those who understand the causation, prevention, and treatment components together with policymakers to ensure we have a tactical solution in hand.”
In a joint statement, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and Asm. Maienschein said, “While we are unhappy with this decision, we’re committed to the fight for legislation that holds those involved in the illicit fentanyl trade accountable and intend to continue pursuing action.” So is Cal Cities.
To learn more about bills scheduled for policy committee meetings through April 5, keep reading. To learn what each section means — or to access a previous State Bills in Brief — visit the archive page.
Bills to act on
AB 1708 would create much-needed changes to Prop. 47
- Doesn’t this require voter approval? AB 1708 (Muratsuchi) would increase accountability for repeat theft offenders and offer pathways for pre-plea diversion programming. If passed, the bill would send the issue to the voters for approval at the next statewide general election.
- Why it matters. Prop. 47 promised safe neighborhoods, but the unintended consequences that followed have undermined that promise. According to a February 2023 study by the Public Policy Institute of California, a strong majority of Californians worry they or a family member will be a victim of a crime.
- When will it be heard? The Assembly Public Safety Committee will hear the bill on April 11. A sample letter of support is available in the Take Action Center.
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. Cal Cities supports this measure.
- 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.
Other bills with major impacts
Electric vehicles are a major focus this year for legislators, a trend driven by the state’s plan to transition to 100% new zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035.
Another potential landmark, manufacturer-funded waste overhaul
- What changes are being proposed? 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 SB 615 in concept. Notably, manufacturers, dealers, and dismantlers would be responsible for end-of-life management.
- When are the hearings scheduled? SB 615 will be heard in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on March 29 at 9 a.m.
Bills to follow
Lawmakers are still hammering out the exact details of various pieces of legislation. Cal Cities does not yet have a position on the bills below but will likely issue one later in the year.
AB 84 would provide a tax exemption for affordable housing
- Doesn’t this already exist? Sort of. Existing law allows an exemption if certain qualifying criteria are met, which is Capitol-speak for “lots of extremely complicated or specific conditions.” This bill is an expansion of the “welfare exemption” for property used exclusively for religious, hospital, scientific, or charitable purposes and that is owned or operated by certain types of nonprofit entities.
- When will the bill be heard? The Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee heard AB 84 (Ward) early on March 29.
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? The Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee heard the bill during a March 29 hearing.
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.