Members of the 2017-18 Legislature came to town to be sworn in and quickly got to business introducing a record number of bills for a first day. Along with the usual ceremony and celebrations, legislators also passionately debated resolutions on immigration.
Legislation Introduced on Transportation Funding, Housing and Parks
Some of the usual celebration of the swearing in day was eclipsed by legislative business, as well as some partisan rancor over immigration and reaction to the President elect. All total, legislators introduced 113 bills and 23 resolutions.
The League began analyzing legislation introduced on Dec. 5 and will continue this work through the bill introduction deadline. Once bills have been reviewed, the League will issue its hot and priority legislation list, which will be updated periodically through the entire legislative session.
Among the 113 bills introduced on Monday is a package of infrastructure bills in the Senate named “California Build.”
The five-bill package comprises legislation on transportation funding, goods movement, housing and water.
The League on Dec. 5 published an update on the introduction of SB 1 (Beall) and AB 1 (Frazier)
, which both address transportation funding. Published before the bills were in print, the League is preparing a comprehensive analysis. The League and the Fix Our Roads Coalition
, of which the League is a founding member, have been engaged in an effort to urge the Legislature to pass a comprehensive and sustainable transportation funding solution to fix and maintain California’s aging local and state transportation network.
Two bills in the Senate package address housing. SB 2
(Atkins) establishes a permanent fund for affordable housing through a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents. The League supported similar legislation in 2015 and 2016 with Assembly Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins’ (D-San Diego) AB 1335
, which ultimately failed to move in early 2016. Sen. Jim Beall’s (D-San Jose) SB 3
is a $3 billion statewide affordable housing bond. The bill is similar to the senator’s 2016 SB 879
, which the League supported. A thorough analysis is being prepared by the League on these measures.
Immigration was a hot topic on Dec. 5 in both legislative debate and the introduction of a number of related public safety measures in both houses. Both houses adopted resolutions in response to the President-Elect’s campaign statements on immigration, HR 4 (Rendon) and SR 7 (de León). In addition, the introduced legislation, AB 3 (Bonta), SB 6 (Hueso), SB 21 (Hill) and SB 29 (Lara) are all aimed at protecting California’s immigrant residents from policies that could be implemented under President Elect Donald Trump’s administration.
Composition of New Legislature
Local government continues to be very well represented in the Legislature. Seventy-four percent of the Assembly came from local government. In the Senate, that number is 53 percent. These members ran for higher office after serving on city councils, county boards of supervisors and school boards.
California’s changing demographics are reflected in the new Legislature, especially in the Assembly where 54 percent of members make the body majority-minority, while the transition has been slower in the Senate, according to the California Research Bureau
. Gender balance has declined somewhat with 26 women legislators, the lowest number since the 1991-92 Legislature.
Democrats now hold a super-majority in both houses, which potentially gives the party the ability to pass tougher two-thirds measures without needing bipartisan support. The Senate has 27 Democrats, its super majority threshold, and 13 Republicans. The Assembly has 55 Democrats and 25 Republicans.
Dates and Deadlines
The Legislature will reconvene on Wednesday, Jan. 4. The Constitutional budget introduction deadline approaches fast less than a week later on Jan. 10.
Legislators and staff will also be busy submitting bill requests to the Legislative Counsel by Jan. 20 to meet the Feb. 17 bill introduction deadline for the year. Legislative policy committees ramp up typically in March but informational hearings begin early in the year. Schedules have yet to be announced but the League will provide information through CA Cities Advocate
once it is available.