Preview of Final Month of Legislative Session

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

As the Legislature reconvenes for its final month of session, it will face more than one thousand bills and numerous high-profile issues to resolve. Although the state budget is done and the most comprehensive data privacy bill in the nation was enacted prior to the summer recess, many more complex issues remain to be addressed.

Per the state constitution, the Legislature will adjourn on August 31 and the Governor will have the month of September to act upon the measures sent to his desk. If history is any guide, another eight hundred or so bills will reach the Governor’s Desk and he will veto around 12% of them.

In the meantime, the following are some of the issues that will likely generate a heavy amount of lobbying by interest groups during August:

Net neutrality and data privacy – SB 822 (Wiener) is the main bill to address net neutrality by imposing Obama Administration regulations just for California. It was modified by one Assembly policy committee but will be returned to its earlier version in the fiscal committee. SB 460 (de Leon) is also supposed to be a part of the net neutrality deal and a possible Assembly measure. There will also be consideration of the “clean-up” language in SB 1121 (Dodd) for the data privacy measure that was enacted prior to the summer recess, which was AB 375 (Chau).

Independent contractors – Business and labor groups will likely battle over the California Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Dynamex case which, if left unaddressed, will substantially curb the use of independent contractors in this state. The business community would like to “suspend” the decision for a year in order to negotiate statutory language to best address the proper classification of workers as either employees or independent contractors.

Job Killers – There are a number of Job Killer bills remaining this Session of over two dozen identified. Those that remain deal with possible disclosure of pay practices contained in SB 1284 (Jackson), a new private right of action for all harassment and discrimination claims contained in SB 1300 (Jackson), a prohibition on the use of arbitration and non-disclosure agreements in all Labor Code and FEHA claims contained in AB 3080 (Gonzalez Fletcher), and several others.

Wildfire liability conference committee – There are high expectations that this two-house conference committee, composed of 10 legislators (instead of the normal six) to address the issues of forest health, insurance coverage, and whether utilities can reduce their liability exposure for wildfire damage. SB 901 (Dodd) is the conference vehicle for legislative changes and this group of legislators will hold informational hearings followed by negotiations over specific statutory changes.

Criminal justice reform – Measures will include the long-awaited bail reform measure in SB 10 (Hertzberg) and a bill to limit the use of deadly force by police officers contained in AB 931 (Weber). The bill to eliminate bail for many criminal defendants was put over from last year’s session but will be acted upon in August. Both bills could represent landmark reforms.

Energy – SB 100 (de Leon) was left from last session but resurrected in July before the recess to promote renewable energy mandates for the state to be carbon-free by 2045. Also, the Governor is pushing for a new board to oversee the power grid for the western part of the U.S. that is contained in AB 813 (Holden).

Lead paint liability – Prior to recess, a proposed ballot measure to obtain public funding for lead paint abatement was pulled at the deadline and three bills were pulled from consideration that would have imposed significant liability on paint manufacturers. Legislative leaders and the proponents of the prior ballot measure committed to addressing legislation on the abatement of lead paint in residential buildings during the final month of session.

Cannabis – As with prior years, there are numerous cannabis-related measures including a key bill, SB 930 (Hertzberg) that is sponsored by BOE Member Fiona Ma, which would allow state banking for cannabis businesses. There is also pending federal legislation to provide a relaxation of federal banking laws for cannabis banking.

Sexual harassment liability – There are nearly a dozen bills affecting the public and private sectors, including banning the use of non-disclosure agreements in SB 820 (Leyva), prohibiting the use of arbitration agreements to resolve all Labor Code violations in AB 3080 (Gonzalez Fletcher), and imposing personal liability for retaliation claims in SB 1038 (Leyva).

There are dozens more public policy issues and hundreds of bills remaining final action by the Legislature in August. Hundreds of bills are likely to be amended in some manner as they come off the respective Suspense Files in the Assembly and Senate fiscal committees around August 17. The final two weeks of August will have legislators spending many hours each day on their respective Floors for debate and final votes on all of these measures.

Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

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