State Bills in Brief: June 28-July 6

Jun 28, 2023

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

It’s a big week at the Capitol. Cal Cities safeguarded local revenues through two notable legislative wins. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, now the third-longest serving speaker in California history, will hand the gavel to Asm. Robert Rivas later this week. And state leaders reached a disappointing final budget agreement — albeit one contingent on the state’s less-than-certain economic forecast.

Speaking of funding: Cal Cities moved AB 1637 (Irwin) near the top of its legislative priorities list. The measure would require cities to migrate their websites and email addresses to a .gov or domain by 2030.   

The bill would create few, if any, cybersecurity benefits. Instead, it would create confusion for residents and significant costs for cities. One city official told Cal Cities a similar effort cost their mid-sized city approximately $600,000.

While .gov domains are seen as secure, multiple .gov websites have been comprised. Even many federal agencies utilize domains, including the Department of Defense and Postal Services. Although Cal Cities has secured some flexibility for cities, it remains opposed to AB 1637 due to the lack of funding and the absence of any study or report suggesting this is even necessary.

If your city recently migrated to a different domain, please tell Legislative Affairs Lobbyist Damon Conklin about your costs and challenges. Your experiences could help stop this bill from becoming law! A sample letter of opposition is available. 

To learn more about bills scheduled for a committee hearing through July 6, 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

A bill that would force cities to migrate their websites and emails to a .gov or domain is now one of Cal Cities’ top legislative priorities and a proposed extension to SB 35 (Wiener, 2017) advanced out of committee.

SB 423 keeps the momentum, advancing the trend of the state overriding its own mandated housing plans

  • What would the bill do? 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.
  • A noteworthy development. Major trade unions removed their opposition to SB 423. In the past, construction unions have scuttled multiple housing bills, citing the need for union-level wages and labor. If the trend continues, it would be a seismic shift in California's housing politics.
  • When was the hearing? The bill was heard in the Assembly Housing and Committee Development Committee on June 28.

Proposed bill would streamline environmental grant programs

  • This sounds great. How? AB 972 (Maienschein) would create a statewide, cross-agency workgroup to coordinate, align, and streamline certain local government assistance resources. Cal Cities is sponsoring the measure.
  • Why do cities need this? Cities often lack the resources, staff capacity, or expertise needed to apply for competitive funding programs with widely varying procedures. Aligning these programs will help cities and the state meet shared climate resilience goals.
  • When was the hearing? The Senate Governance and Finance Committee reviewed the measure on June 28.

Cybersecurity bill comes with a high price tag

  • A seemingly small change. AB 1637 (Irwin) would require cities to migrate their websites and email addresses to a .gov or domain by 2030. Cal Cities opposes the measure.
  • With big consequences. While well-intended, the migration would provide few security benefits and, in many cases, cause confusion for residents. Projected costs range from $750,000 to $6.3 million depending on the size of the city.
  • When was the hearing? Lawmakers debated the bill during the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on June 28.

Action alert issued for bill that would make sympathy striking a human right

  • What is a sympathy strike? A sympathy strike is when employees go on strike in support of another group of workers. Under AB 504 (Reyes), public employees could refuse to enter a primary property that is the site of a labor dispute, go to work for an involved employer, or cross a primary picket line.
  • What is Cal Cities’ position? Cal Cities opposes the measure. AB 504 would circumvent the normal contract negotiating process and remove agencies’ ability to provide critical services during strikes.
  • When was the hearing? Lawmakers heard the bill on June 28 in the Senate Labor, Public Employment, and Retirement Committee. It will be heard in Senate Judiciary Committee next.

Other bills with major impacts

Lawmakers are considering a range of housing, community service, and public safety bills, as well as several revenue-related measures.

SB 4 advances out of key committee

  • What would the bill do? SB 4 (Wiener) would allow nonprofit colleges and religious institutions to build affordable housing on their land. The bill would only kick in under certain conditions and require developers to comply with objective standards. Cal Cities has a support if amended position for the measure.
  • What changes is Cal Cities seeking? Cal Cities is seeking amendments that would allow cities to maintain their parking and building height requirements.
  • When is the hearing? The Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee heard the measure on June 28.

Utility bill could energize housing and economic development

  • Here’s what the bill would do. AB 50 (Ward) would decrease the time it takes to connect new projects to the electrical grid and improve information sharing between utility companies and local officials. Cal Cities supports AB 50.
  • You’re saying this could increase housing production? Not just housing! Many local governments have been told it will take anywhere from two to seven years to improve electrical grids. These excessive delays have resulted in delays to housing, economic development, electric vehicle, and decarbonization projects.
  • When is the hearing? Lawmakers will debate AB 2 on July 3 in the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee.

Well-intended adaptive reuse bill would still create traffic problems

  • What does the bill do? AB 1490 (Lee) would require cities to give certain concessions to 100% affordable adaptative reuse projects. Cal Cities has an oppose unless amended position for the bill.
  • What’s the issue? The author changed AB 1490 to give cities greater discretion over certain projects. However, it still limits their ability to enforce maximum density and parking rules, which could create considerable problems for developments that are not well served by public transit.
  • When is the next hearing? The measure will be heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on July 5.

Increased access to library services would help improve future academic success

  • How? SB 321 (Ashby) would provide all students with access to a student success card — which provides access to in-person and digital library services — by third grade. Cal Cities supports AB 361.
  • A stunning statistic. California has the lowest literacy rate of any state.
  • When was the hearing? The Assembly Education Committee reviewed the bill on June 28.

Bonta bill would boost families out of poverty

  • An integrated system of solutions. AB 1321 (Bonta) would create a competitive grant program that funds academic, occupational, and other "cradle-to-career" services in Promise Neighborhoods. Cal Cities supports the bill.
  • A simmering crisis. Despite strong economic growth, California has high rates of child poverty: 16.2% of children under 18 are living at, or below, the federal poverty threshold. AB 1321 would expand California’s capacity to mitigate disparities and provide support for children and families.
  • When is the next hearing? The Senate Appropriations Committee will hear the bill on July 3.

Cal Cities-sponsored measure would enshrine cities’ right to deliver emergency medical services

  • How is this even an issue? AB 1168 (Bennett) would reconcile City of Oxnard v. County of Ventura, which ruled that Oxnard lost its authority to provide prehospital EMS after signing a joint powers authority agreement (JPA) with the county.
  • Why is local control important here? The Oxnard decision fundamentally misconstrues the plain language of the EMS Act — which governs the EMS system — as well as the nature and purpose of a JPA. Signatories to JPA agreements should not lose their rights because they cooperated with other public agencies to provide better service to residents.
  • When was the hearing? The Senate Health Committee heard the measure on June 28.

Bill seeks to reduce drug-related recidivism

  • A voluntary program. AB 1360 (McCarty) would create a pilot program that would help people suffering from substance use disorders from cycling in and out of the criminal justice system with no clear path to treatment. Cal Cities supports AB 1360.
  • Why it matters. According to the National Institute of Health and the National Institute for Drug Abuse, an estimated 65% of people in U.S. prisons and jails have an active substance use disorder (SUD). Another 20% did not meet the official criteria for a SUD but were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crime.
  • When is the next hearing? Legislators will discuss AB 1360 on July 5 in the Senate Health Committee.

Did you know the design-build procurement process has a sunset date?

  • This sounds very wonky. It is! The very short version is the design-build procurement process provides more flexibility for contractors, encourages greater collaboration among stakeholders, and keeps costs low.
  • This sounds great. It is — especially given the billions of dollars in infrastructure funding flowing to cities. AB 400 (Rubio, Blanca) would eliminate the existing 2025 sunset date governing the use of the process. Cal Cities is sponsoring the measure.
  • When is the next hearing? The Senate Appropriations Committee will hear the bill on July 3.

An ambiguous ethics law is driving up project costs. This bill could change that

  • A well-intended law. A conflict-of-interest law inadvertently precludes independent contractors from bidding on successive phases of public works projects. AB 334 (Rubio, Blanca) would clarify that those professionals are not subject to that law, in part because of case law. Cal Cities supports the bill.
  • Why it matters. The public is at great risk if the most qualified consultants and contractors are prohibited from working on certain phases of infrastructure projects. The law would also help lower costs: Cities are currently forced to spend more money on training and site visits as new design professionals are brought on for each stage of the project.
  • When was the hearing? Lawmakers will hear the bill on July 6 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Proposed prohibition on potable water for nonfunctional turf irrigation

  • What is the bill number? AB 1572 (Friedman) would prohibit the use of potable water for irrigation of nonfunctional turf on specified properties.
  • What changes are Cal Cities seeking? The bill’s prohibition extends to multifamily housing, which is not uniformly categorized. Different parts of the law would treat those properties differently, leading to confusion. Cal Cities now has a neutral position for AB 1572.
  • When is the hearing? The Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee will hear the measure on July 3.

Cal Cities to work with stakeholders on new children’s camps regulations

  • What is the bill number? AB 262 (Holden) would convene a stakeholder group focused on improving safety at children’s camps. Cal Cities supports the bill.
  • This sounds familiar. Asm. Holden introduced a similar measure in the last session, which was ultimately held. Cal Cities has worked closely with the author’s office to ensure that any new requirements do not adversely impact cities’ ability to provide educational opportunities at little or no cost to residents.
  • When is the next hearing? Lawmakers will discuss AB 262 on July 3 in the Senate Human Services Committee.

View all bills to act on

View all tracked bill hearings