SACRAMENTO — A bill to require later start times at California’s middle and high schools cleared one of its final hurdles on Friday, as did the Legislature’s closely watched “sanctuary state” immigration bill — and legislation to make it easier for transgender people to have their gender identity reflected on legal documents.
Not faring as well in the rapid-fire ritual — in which powerful fiscal committees decide the fate of hundreds of bills in a matter of minutes, with no discussion — was legislation to create pro-choice-themed license plates saying “California Trusts Women” and a proposal to let cities allow bars and restaurants to serve drinks as late as 4 a.m.
The committee blocked the license plate proposal from Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara. It gutted the closing-time bill from Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, asking instead for a task force “to study the health, fiscal and community impact” of extending the hours past 2 a.m.
“There’s no need to study anything,” a miffed Wiener wrote in a statement Friday. “There’s nothing radical about letting local communities decide for themselves whether to let their bars and nightclubs go later. It’s embarrassing that California shuts down its nightlife so early. We’re not going to give up.”
The two appropriations committees — which passed over 350 bills to the Assembly and Senate floors on Friday, but blocked over 100 — met as lawmakers and lobbyists prepare for a frenetic final two weeks of the legislative session. A long-awaited affordable-housing package, which some hoped would come together and pass this week, remains on the Legislature’s to-do list.
Two key bills from Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles — Senate Bill 100, establishing California’s commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2045 and Senate Bill 54, which would prevent local law enforcement officers from carrying out federal immigration enforcement — passed the Senate earlier this year and will now move to the Assembly.
Senate Bill 328, to let tweens and teens sleep in on school days, cleared the committee — with an amendment making the 8:30 a.m.-or-later start time apply to charter schools, too.
And Californians would have a third gender designation besides “male” and “female” — “nonbinary” — on drivers licenses under Senate Bill 197, a bill by Sen.Toni Atkins, D-San Diego that moved to the Assembly floor. The bill would also simplify the process by which transgender people change legal documents to conform to their gender identity.
And an effort by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, to control rising prescription drug costs advanced to the Assembly floor. Senate Bill 17 would require advance notification and disclosure of price increases, among other provisions.
Also moving to the Assembly or Senate floor:
- Bridge toll hike? Senate Bill 585, by Sen. Jim Beall, D-Campbell, which would set a special election for a Bay Area bridge toll hike of up to $3.
- Martin’s Beach access: Senate Bill 42, by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, that would set up a fund at the State Lands Commission to accept donations to take by eminent domain an easement over a pathway to Martins Beach in San Mateo County from Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla. The bill could end a battle that began nearly 10 years ago when Khosla bought land around the beach and closed a gate that surfers, fishermen and families had used for generations to access the beach. Meanhwhile, San Mateo County has expressed interest in contributing $1 million to the fund, and environmental groups and other donors are expected to help pay costs. ” It’s time for the gate to open and the sign to read, `Public Welcome,’” Hill said in a statement after Friday’s vote.
- No smoking in state parks or beaches: Assembly Bill 725 by Marc Levine, of Marin County, would ban smoking in public parks and state beaches, with a few exceptions. The similar Senate Bill 386 by Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, also advanced. Similar bills have passed the Legislature in past years, only to be vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
- Buy Clean Act, by Assembly members Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, and Marc Steinorth, R-Rancho Cucamonga, Assembly Bill 262, would require successful bidders on state public works projects to certify that the global-warming potential of the materials they will use for the project meets a statewide minimum standard — the industry average or cleaner. It also would allow state agencies, California State University and the University of California to set even higher standards.
- Dialysis clinic requirements: Senate Bill 349, by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, is hotly debated legislation that would establish minimum staffing requirements at dialysis clinics as well as mandatory transition times between patients.
- Cell tower equipment: A controversial measure that would would make it easier for companies to install equipment for the next generation of broadband internet service on utility poles and public buildings survived Friday’s hearing. Senate Bill 649, by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista, would remove some of the approval and regulatory authority of cities and counties. Local governments oppose the bill, as do groups concerned about health risks from the radiation.
Some bills were held in committee Friday, but will be considered in 2018:
- Water fix: A bill to help clean up chronically contaminated water systems in parts of the state will wait until next year. Senate Bill 623 by Sen. Bill Monning, D-Monterey, proposed a statewide 95-cent charge on water bills.The bill was just amended last week to include a water-user tax and fees on the agricultural sector, which contribute to the problem.
- Automatic drivers license suspension: Senate Bill 185, by Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, would stop the automatic suspension of drivers’ licenses of those who failed to pay fees or fines for minor traffic tickets, which he argues can lead to job loss and other hardships which unfairly affect those who can’t afford to pay the fines.