State Bills in Brief: April 5-19

Apr 5, 2023

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

The Legislature is on recess, but the League of California Cities is not. Cal Cities is gearing up for next week’s City Leaders Summit and the grueling April gauntlet of legislative policy committee meetings. Once again, the biggest bills this week are the ones not being heard in committee.

Lawmakers shelved AB 1532 (Haney) for the rest of 2023. The Cal Cities-opposed measure would have forced the conversion of non-residential buildings into new housing units regardless of underlining zoning. The zoning fight is not over yet though: A similar bill, AB 1490 (Lee), is still being debated.

The Assembly Public Safety Committee will postpone its hearing for AB 1708 (Muratsuchi) due to scheduling concerns. Sponsored by Cal Cities, the bill would increase accountability for repeat theft offenders and offer pathways for pre-plea diversion programming. Any provisions that amend Proposition 47 would become effective upon approval by voters during the next statewide general election.

A sample letter of support for AB 1708 is available in the Take Action Center. To learn more about bills scheduled for committee hearings now through April 19, 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

Proposed dashboard would increase access to behavioral health care

  • What would this dashboard do? SB 363 (Eggman) would create a real-time dashboard of available beds in psychiatric and substance abuse facilities. It would also include related data, such as the appropriate age range for the bed.
  • How would this bill help? Mental illness and substance abuse are best treated early and with appropriate support, just like any other health condition. The database would also cut down on extended emergency room stays.
  • When is the next advocacy opportunity? Lawmakers will discuss SB 636 in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 11. Cal Cities supports the measure.

Other bills with major impacts

Two key trash bills are up for consideration, along with a controversial shelter euthanasia measure.

Organic waste procurement flexibility

  • I need a refresher on California’s organic waste law. SB 1383 (Lara, 2016) calls for a dramatic reduction in organic waste to reduce methane emissions, a powerful climate pollutant. As part of that law, cities must procure organic waste products, such as mulch, from in-state processing facilities.
  • What sort of flexibility is being proposed? It’s narrow but important. In some parts of the state, there simply are not enough processing facilities, especially for rural and border cities. AB 573 (Garcia) would allow cities to send organic waste outside the state under certain conditions.
  • When is the hearing? The Assembly Natural Resources Committee will hear AB 573 on April 10. Cal Cities supports the measure.

Funding for the most polluted river in the U.S.

  • Which river? AB 1597 (Alvarez) would provide funding for two rivers, the New River and the Tijuana River. The New River is the most polluted river in the U.S., thanks to a potent combination of raw sewage, pathogens, trash, and industrial activities. The Tijuana River is often contaminated by raw sewage. Both rivers flow through the U.S.–Mexico border.
  • How much funding? AB 1597 would provide $50 million, upon appropriation by the Legislature, in funding. Historically, funding has been in short supply for these rivers. Even a modest investment could have a substantial environmental impact and create savings for related health and disaster costs.  
  • When is the next advocacy opportunity? The bill will be heard on April 18 in the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. Cal Cities supports the measure.

Proposed public notice requirement would increase animal shelter overcrowding

  • What changes are being proposed? AB 595 (Essayli) would require animal shelters to provide public notice at least 72 hours before euthanizing any animal.
  • The bill would make a bad situation worse. Shelters in California are already over capacity, understaffed, and underfunded. Since shelters are statutorily required to admit certain animals, this bill could actually increase euthanasia as staff scramble to accommodate new animals. The measure would also create related criminal provisions. Although well-intended, the bill would not help the animals most in need.
  • When is the next advocacy opportunity? The Assembly Business and Professions Committee will hear the bill on April 11. Cal Cities opposes the measure.

Bills to follow

Lawmakers are still hammering out the exact details of many bills. Cal Cities does not have a position on the measure below but will likely issue one.  

CEQA document requests

  • What would the bill do? SB 69 (Cortese) would require local agencies to provide any subsequent revised or amended copy of CEQA documents upon request by mail or email and to submit the documents to the state clearinghouse.
  • What time is the hearing? Lawmakers will discuss the measure during the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 11.

Two revenue bills to watch

  • What are the bills? AB 1249 (Ta) would exempt qualified school supplies from sales and use taxes for a two-day period. AB 537 (Berman) would prohibit short-term lodging “junk fees” — fees charged in addition to the upfront price.
  • When are the hearings? The Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee will hear AB 1249 on April 10. The Assembly Business and Professions Committee will hear AB 537 on April 11.

An act of the Legislature to change “Act of God” clauses

  • This sounds familiar. SB 751 (Padilla) would prohibit municipalities from entering into an exclusive franchise agreement for waste hauling services that contains a force majeure provision that can be triggered by a labor impasse. Sen. Padilla introduced the bill in response to a high-profile strike that affected residents in Chula Vista and San Diego.
  • A force what? Sometimes known as an “Act of God,” a force majeure frees organizations from obligations due to extraordinary circumstances, such as a natural disaster.
  • When will the bill be heard? Lawmakers will discuss the measure on April 12 in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.

Expect positions from Cal Cities on these two labor bills soon

  • What do the bills do? AB 504 (Reyes) would allow public employees to participate in strikes even if they are not members of the striking union. AB 1484 (Zbur) would allow temporary employees to be automatically included in the same bargaining unit as permanent employees.
  • When will the bills be heard? The Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee will hear both bills on April 12.

A proposed prohibition on gas stove prohibitions

  • Try saying that three times fast. AB 698 (Essayli) would restrict state agencies and local governments from prohibiting the use of gas stoves in residential and nonresidential buildings.
  • What time is the hearing? The measure will be heard on April 12 in the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee.

Two water bills to watch

  • What are the bills? AB 1567 (E. Garcia) would provide funding for various drought, water, parks, climate, and coastal protection projects. AB 460 (Bauer-Kahan) would authorize the State Water Resources Control Board to issue fines for a violation of an interim relief order.
  • When are the hearings? The Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee will hear both bills on April 18.

View all bills to act on

View all tracked bill hearings