CSAC Bulletin Article

Legislature Returns for a Sprint to the Finish

July 30, 2020

The California Legislature officially reconvened on July 27, 2020, with many legislators returning to the Capitol building in Sacramento. After several confirmed COVID-19 cases among legislators and staff postponed their return, Legislators must push through policy committee meetings, appropriation committee meetings, and floor sessions to meet the August 31 constitutional deadline for each house to pass bills. With a month left in the legislative session and a litany of measures to be heard, legislators arrive under an air of uncertainty of the attainability of this undertaking.

Remote testimony and public comment, social distancing requirements, and a limitation on staff allowed in the building are just a few health and safety precautions initiated in May that will continue through the end of session. Additional health and safety precautions approved by Senate and Assembly leadership have been proposed such as remote and proxy voting for at-risk members. While the specifics for the proposals and utilizations of these distance voting options differ between the two houses, concerns regarding process and public accountability have been raised by members of the Legislature as well as the public. California’s Legislative body has prioritized public health while they continue to complete their duties as members of the legislature from Sacramento or their district offices across the state.

CSAC and advocacy groups have adjusted their engagement styles with policy makers since the abrupt delay to the legislative process back in March. CSAC anticipates the last month of advocacy efforts will continue to include video conference calls, phone calls, text messages, and emails replacing the classic walking the halls of the Capitol building. A number of outstanding bills remain, with the pressure on lawmakers to move bills through committees and off the floor in a short time frame. While there has been much talk of the potential for the Governor to call a Special Legislative Session to complete items past the August 31 deadline, CSAC will engage with the legislature with a sense of urgency that characteristically surrounds the completion of a two-year legislative cycle.

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