Legislature to Reconvene for Final Month of Session
It’s crunch time for the California State Legislature as Summer Recess comes to a close and only four weeks remain in the legislative calendar. Lawmakers have until August 31 to send any bills to the Governor, which oftentimes will prompt last-minute amendments, crowded hallways, and of course late night floor sessions.
The Legislature has set its sights on an ambitious agenda for the final weeks of session, covering a number of CSAC priority issues. All of the remaining bills have been vetted in policy committee and, if still alive, are now located in either fiscal committee or the floor. Due to the high volume of bills that are left, both the Assembly and Senate are scheduled to convene floor sessions every day from August 20-31.
One of the largest issues, related to wildfire liability, is pending before the Wildfire Preparedness and Response Legislative Conference Committee. Governor Brown and legislative leaders convened the Conference Committee in early July to put forth legislation that will strengthen disaster preparedness and respond to increasing wildfire danger. This potentially includes revising liability law as it relates to utility companies and wildfire causation. CSAC, along with a coalition of other local government associations, have been at the table for the past several weeks, urging conferees to reject any changes to wildfire liability law (see letter). The Committee met last week (see video) and is expected to meet again before deciding on final language. Informational hearings are tentatively scheduled on Tuesday, Aug.7, to discuss safety issues and Thursday, Aug.9, to discuss liability issues.
A second major issue that the Legislature continues to tackle is the lack of affordable housing. While 2018 started with a flurry of housing legislation, many proposals were scaled back or held in committee. CSAC continues to actively support AB 1804 (Berman), which would expand CEQA streamlining opportunities for infill housing in unincorporated areas. Two of the three CSAC-opposed accessory dwelling unit permitting bills were held in committee, but CSAC and our local government partners have offered amendments to remove our opposition on the last bill standing, AB 2890 (Ting). Finally, in light of recent amendments, CSAC is now neutral on two of the most significant housing bills of 2018, AB 1771 (Bloom) and SB 828 (Wiener), which would both significantly change local housing planning requirements. For more detail on those bills, see last week’s Bulletin article.
Lastly, and after months of silence, bail reform is again being discussed by the Legislature. CSAC remains opposed to the bail reform legislation, SB 10 (Hertzberg), and will continue to work to mitigate the fiscal impact this legislation has on counties.