State Bills in Brief: April 26-May 4

Apr 26, 2023

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

It’s almost time for the big annual budget revision and the gauntlet that follows. In early May, Gov. Gavin Newsom will reveal his revised budget proposal. Two weeks later, any bills with fiscal impacts will need to pass through a biannual legislative culling known as the suspense file. State analysts are predicting a larger deficit than predicted, to the tune of over $24 billion. That’s billion with a b.

But for now, all eyes are on Thursday’s fentanyl hearing in the Assembly Public Safety Committee. Early in March, Committee Chair Reggie Jones-Sawyer put a hold on all fentanyl-related measures, citing “duplicative efforts” and bills that provided no “rational solutions at all.”

After sustained pressure from the League of California Cities, other legislators, victims' advocates, district attorneys, and a high-profile legislative gambit, Jones-Swayer agreed to a special hearing on six bills. Key measures for cities include AB 33 (Bains), AB 367 (Maienschein), AB 474 (Rodriguez), and AB 955 (Petrie-Norris) — all four are the subject of a recent action alert. Cal Cities supports the measures.

To learn more about bills scheduled for committee hearings through May 4, 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

Legislators will discuss a major expansion of a controversial 2017 housing law and the possible streamlining of the state’s environmental grant programs.

SB 423 advances the trend of the state overriding its own mandated housing plans

  • What now? SB 423 (Wiener) would expand SB 35 (Wiener, 2017) 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.
  • 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.
  • When was the bill heard? Lawmakers discussed the bill on April 26 in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.

Proposed bill would streamline environmental grant programs

  • What would this bill do? AB 972 (Maienschein) would create a statewide, cross-agency workgroup to coordinate, align, and streamline certain local government assistance resources. Cal Cities supports the measure.
  • Why cities need this. Nearly all state grant programs have widely varied procedures for their grant programs. Cities often lack the resources, staff capacity, or expertise needed to apply for competitive funding.
  • When was the bill heard? The Assembly Local Government Committee heard AB 972 on April 26.

Other bills with major impacts

Housing, homelessness, organic waste, and climate action bonds are at the top of Cal Cities’ agenda this week.

Affordable housing tax exemption lacks guardrails

  • What does the bill do? AB 84 (Ward) would significantly expand eligibility for exemptions from property taxes for affordable rental housing, commonly referred to as the property tax welfare exemption. Cal Cities opposes the measure.
  • Wait. Why is this a bad thing? The bill does not include sufficient safeguards to prevent abuse. For starters, allowing developers to receive property tax exemptions before construction commences could disincentive developers from beginning construction in a reasonable and timely manner. AB 84 is sure to result in negative fiscal impacts to local government property tax revenues without a guarantee that the supply of affordable housing will increase.  
  • When will the bill be heard? The Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee will hear AB 84 (Ward) early on May 1.

Lawmakers mull accountability measure for state homeless funding

  • What are lawmakers proposing? AB 799 (Rivas, Luz) would require the creation of regional plans to address homelessness and create new accountability requirements for local governments accessing state homelessness funding. Cal Cities has a concern position for AB 799.
  • This sounds familiar. Last year, the Governor temporarily withheld state funding, citing the need for “more substantial results.”
  • When was the bill heard? AB 799 was heard on April 26 in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.

AB 573 would increase flexibility for organic waste procurement

  • What sort of flexibility is being proposed? It’s narrow but important. AB 573 (Garcia) would allow some cities to send organic waste to out-of-state compost facilities to meet their SB 1383 (Lara, 2016) procurement requirements. Cal Cities supports the measure.
  • Why do cities need this? Some cities, especially rural and border cities, must purchase and deliver compost hundreds of miles to comply with the law. This drives up both greenhouse gas emissions and ratepayer costs. The state needs 50-100 new facilities for SB 1383 to be successful, which are several years away from becoming a reality.
  • When is the hearing? The Assembly Appropriations Committee will hear AB 573 on May 3.

Lawmakers propose $20 in climate action and environmental quality bonds

  • What are the bills? SB 867 (Allen), SB 638 (Eggman), and AB 1567 (E. Garcia) collectively propose $20 billion in bonds for safe drinking water, wildfire prevention, drought preparation, flood protection, and extreme heat mitigation.
  • What is Cal Cities’ position? Cal Cities has a support if amended position for the bills and is seeking changes that increase the available investments for local governments.
  • When are the hearings? The Senate Governance and Finance Committee heard SB 867 on April 26 and the Senate Appropriations Committee will hear SB 638 on May 1. The remaining measure, AB 1567, was last heard in the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee on April 18.

Bigger fines for carpet stewardship law violators

  • Carpet what? AB 863 (Aguiar-Curry) would increase penalties associated with the violating state’s carpet stewardship program, a waste diversion and recycling program. Cal Cities supports AB 863.
  • How big are the fines? The fines would increase to $10,000 per day or $50,000 per day for violations of the program laws. It would also remove repeat violators from the program, which would trigger its successor rules.
  • When was the bill heard? Lawmakers heard AB 863 on April 26 in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Legislators weigh limitations on warehouse siting and locations

  • What changes are being proposed? AB 1000 (Reyes) would require minimum setbacks for warehouses and create extensive new requirements when siting logistics centers, warehouses, and related infrastructure. Cal Cities opposes the measure.
  • Why this matters. These sites are already governed by various regulatory frameworks and many cities are working together to address the negative impacts caused by large warehouses.  Establishing baselines may be appropriate, but lawmakers should look at existing, best practice policies already in place at the local level when crafting these types of measures.
  • When was the bill heard? The Assembly Local Government Committee heard the bill on April 26.

Proposed public notice requirement does more harm than good

  • What would this requirement affect? AB 595 (Essayli) would require animal shelters to provide public notice at least 72 hours before euthanizing any animal. Cal Cities opposes the measure.
  • 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 increase euthanasia as staff scramble to accommodate new animals. The measure would also create related criminal provisions. Although well-intended, AB 595 would not help the animals most in need.
  • When was the bill heard? The Assembly Appropriations Committee heard the bill on April 26.

Bills to follow

Lawmakers are still hammering out the exact details of some bills. Cal Cities does not have a position on the bills below at this time. 

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.
  • When was the bill heard? Lawmakers discussed the bill on April 26 in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.

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

  • What does the measure do? 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.
  • 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 May 3 in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.

View all bills to act on

View all tracked bill hearings