Looking back on California’s legislative season

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The California Legislature ended the first year of it’s 2- year session at 2:34 AM, Saturday, September 16. The Governor then had until October 15 to sign or veto legislation sent to him in the last weeks. Now that we are 3-weeks past the signing deadline we can provide an overview of what made it, what didn’t, and maybe look ahead just a bit.

The number of bills that the legislature dealt with this year is comparable to the number they handled in the first year of the 2015-16 session.

What is different is the scope and importance of the bills this year. Major issues like energy, transportation, affordable housing, immigration, privacy, and prescription drugs were alive and being debated into the last month of session.

Two of the session’s most hotly debated issues were passed in the final 48-hours of the legislative session; the so-called “Sanctuary State” measure (SB 54) and an affordable housing package of bills.

Legislation on both issued passed and were then signed into law by Governor Brown resulting in restrictions on communications between local law enforcement and federal immigrations officials, a new real estate tax, and a $4-billion bond that will be on the ballot in 2018.
The legislature extended the cap-and-trade program through 2030 (AB 398) with the support of the oil industry, business and eight Republicans, and the ouster of the Republican Assembly leader who voted for the plan; passed a $52-billion transportation plan (SB 1) resulting in a new vehicle licensing fee, and higher taxes on gas; and passed a $183.2 billon state budget, the largest in the nation by far; and pushed the state primary from June to March in an effort to make the election more relevant nationally.

Legislation on Internet privacy, a California single payer health care system, later school start times, and the release of police body camera video release stalled before the start of the interim study session and can be debated again next year.

In 2018 the Legislature is expected to hit the ground running focused heavily on next steps for affordable housing, opioid abuse, the environment, privacy – both legislative and at the ballot box, and of course the November elections which include selecting a new Governor to replace Governor Brown.