Welcome back, legislators! You have one month to complete work on this session’s bills before adjournment and the beginning of election sweepstakes. Will the state’s swiftly changing political dynamics alter the old rules about passing controversial legislation?
Legislators are usually averse to passing contentious legislation right before the voters go to the polls. Politics have changed because of the top two primary offering a number of contests between members of the same party. So we’ll see if in a state that is becoming more one sided politically—but with a majority party that sees fissures in its fabric—will take on any major legislation as this session ends.
There are still key bills being considered. On this site today, the Hoover Institution’s Carson Bruno discusses the bills that he believes are the best and the worst bills the legislature will contemplate. My bet is that one of the bills he cites in the worst category, SB 32 to up the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal and push back the deadline a decade to 2030, will get the most ink (or internet equivalent) in the remaining session.
This is an issue that will test Democratic Party unity coming as it does following the changes to SB 350, which dropped some of the gasoline reduction goals championed by Governor Jerry Brown and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León. Brown and de León don’t want to be embarrassed again. The subject of rising costs because of environmental law changes is a contentious issue in some legislative contests.
The real game changer in laws affecting greenhouse gases could come this month away from the capitol dome. The Appellate Court is soon to rule on the business lawsuit that the cap-and-trade provisions of the original greenhouse gases law is unconstitutional because, as the suit asserts, cap-and-trade amounts to a tax that required a two-thirds vote, which it did not receive.
Speaking of President Pro Tem Kevin de León, he is also pushing a measure to essentially pack the South Coast Air Quality Management District with members he considers friendly to his causes. SB 1387 would add three state appointed members to the board undermining local control. It is a precedent setting attempt to change decisions powerful state officials doesn’t like. I suppose you could say as a plan to alter political outcomes, it does have a precedent if you consider President Franklin Roosevelt’s court packing plan. Will the Air District proposal have the same fate as Roosevelt’s plan or will it become law?
Important to the business community are a series of bills the California Chamber of Commerce calls job killers. The legislature will make final judgment on the bills that still are active. Of the 23 bills on the list, 12 are alive and one has been signed into law, the minimum wage increase.
There are more bills to keep an eye on, including the governor’s housing proposal to help build more low cost housing, so its important to be vigilant because legislative maneuvering happens fast.
With the legislature back in town and the need to be vigilante on the top of mind, we’ll leave the last word to Gideon John Tucker, a Surrogate of New York (a probate judge) who wrote in 1866: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”