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Nail-biting “suspense” as 200 bills fail to advance out of key hearings

May 26, 2021
Hundreds of bills failed to advance last week during a rapid-fire appropriations process known as the suspense file.
 
The suspense file process was introduced in the Legislature in the 1980s to promote fiscal responsibility by evaluating the costs and comparing bills before they reach the Assembly or Senate floor. Unexpectedly, the day before the committee hearings last Thursday, President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced a new limit of 12 bills per legislator, ensuring the death of hundreds of bills. Atkins reasoned that rules requiring "increased access for people to phone in public comment" made the cap necessary.

Of the 16 priority bills highlighted during the League of California Cities Legislative Action Days, 12 were placed on the appropriations committee suspense files and during those hearings, five bills had favorable outcomes for California cities. 

Notably, AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry) and SB 4 (Gonzalez), two Cal Cities-supported measures that would create a long-term sustainable funding source for cities for broadband deployment, passed out of their respective committees.

Two priority bills that Cal Cities opposes, SB 210 (Wiener) and SB 617 (Wiener), were held in the Senate Appropriations Committee, effectively killing the bills for this legislative session. SB 210 would have required Automated License Plate Reader data that does not match a hotlist to be destroyed within 24 hours. SB 617 would have required every city in a county with a population of 150,000 or more to implement an online, automated permitting platform. This platform would verify code compliance and issue permits for specific residential solar energy and energy storage systems.

AB 377 (Rivas) will remain inactive until next January, which gives Cal Cities additional time to share concerns about the proposed measure which would, among other things, overhaul the existing regulatory system for stormwater and add significant costs to local governments to pay for stormwater and water quality infrastructure.

One critical bill for cities that did not go our way was the Cal Cities-opposed SB 9 (Atkins), which made it out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The measure would require a local government to ministerially approve a housing development containing two residential units in single-family residential zones. Additionally, this measure would require local governments to ministerially approve urban lot splits. Currently, SB 9 is a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to land use policy that fails to recognize or incorporate local flexibility, decision-making, and community input.

To see which other notable bills for cities — 52 in total — made the cut, and which met their maker, refer to the list of policy area categories below. Community Services

AB 1568 (Committee on Emergency Management)
This measure would require the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to establish a statewide registry of private businesses and nonprofit organizations interested in donating services, goods, labor, equipment, resources, or dispensaries or other facilities to foster collaboration between the private and public sector to enhance disaster preparedness.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Pending

 SB 344 (Hertzberg)
This measure would require the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to create and administer a program that would award grants to homeless shelters that allow pets. These grants would enable shelters to provide food, housing, and veterinary services for pets that are owned by homeless individuals.
Outcome: Pass as amended | Cal Cities Position: Support

AB 1071 (Rodriguez) 
This measure would require Cal OES to conduct tabletop exercises of California’s catastrophic response plans on a biennial basis with representatives of the whole community and lifeline operators.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Support if amended 

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Environmental Quality  

SB 1 (Atkins)
This measure would establish new planning, assessment, funding, and mitigation tools for California to address and respond to sea-level rise and create a grant program to help local governments update their local coastal plans.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Support

SB 99 (Dodd)
This measure would establish the Community Energy Resilience Act of 2021, upon appropriation by the legislature, administered by the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop and implement a grant program for local governments to develop community energy resilience plans and expedite permit review of distributed energy resources.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Pending

SB 109 (Dodd)
This measure would establish the Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development within Cal OES.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Support

AB 1500 (Garcia)
This measure would, upon approval by the voters in the June 7, 2022 statewide primary election, enact the Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparation, Flood Protection, Extreme Heat Mitigation, and Workforce Development Bond Act of 2022, to authorize the issuance of $7.08 billion in general obligation bonds.
Outcome: Pass and referred to Rules | Cal Cities Position: Pending

SB 418 (Laird)
This measure would extend the sunset date of the existing Planning for Sea Level Rise Database for five years from January 1, 2023, to Jan. 1, 2028.
Outcome: Pass| Cal Cities Position: Support

AB 897 (Mullin)
This measure would encourage regional climate adaptation planning to reduce climate risk, foster collaboration, and develop guidance for potential investment in regional adaptation projects.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Support

SB 289 (Newman)
This measure seeks to address the growing costs and threat that improperly disposed lithium-ion batteries pose for solid waste and recycling systems.
Outcome: Held | Cal Cities Position: Support

SB 45 (Portantino)
This measure would enact the Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2022, which authorizes the sale of $5.595 billion in general obligation bonds, upon approval by voters at the November 2021 statewide general election.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Pending

SB 612 (Portantino)
This measure would require the California Public Utilities Commission to require investor-owned utilities to offer to Community Choice Aggregators and electric service providers an allocation of product attributes from legacy electrical resources paid for through exit fees of the departing load.
Outcome: Pass as amended | Cal Cities Position: Support

AB 585 (Rivas)
This measure would establish the Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program within the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to coordinate the state’s efforts to address extreme heat and facilitate the implementation of local, regional, and state planning efforts. This measure would also require OPR to manage a competitive grant program for extreme heat. 
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Pending

AB 377 (Rivas)
This measure would require the State Water Resources Control Board and regional boards to evaluate impaired state surface waters and report to the Legislature a plan to bring all water segments into attainment by Jan. 1, 2050. This bill would require the plan to include total maximum daily load compliance schedules as they existed on Jan. 1, 2021, and prohibit the report from extending the existing compliance schedules. The report is required to be updated with progress summaries every five years until Jan. 1, 2050.
Outcome: Two-year bill | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

SB 426 (Rubio)
This measure would require the State Water Resources Control Board to adopt Financial Capability Assessment guidelines for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permittees that consider the costs to local jurisdictions.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Support

AB 418 (Valladares)
This measure would create the Community Power Resiliency Program, a $100 million grant program, to be administered by Cal OES. The measure would award $30 million to cities and prioritize cities that did not receive funds from the 2019 and 2020 community power resiliency programs. 
Outcome: Pass as amended | Cal Cities Position: Pending

SB 617 (Wiener)
This measure would both require cities to implement an online, automated permitting platform that verifies code compliance and issues permits in real-time to a licensed contractor for a solar energy system and authorize the CEC to provide technical assistance and grant funding to cities and counties to comply with the requirements for the online platform.
Outcome: Held | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

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Governance, Transparency, and Labor Relations  

SB 788 (Bradford)
This measure would prohibit consideration of race, religious creed, color, national origin, age, gender, marital status, sex, sexual identity, sexual orientation, or genetic characteristics, for the purposes of apportionment of permanent disability.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Support if amended

SB 335 (Cortese)
This measure would reduce the period of time that employers are allowed to investigate a claim for benefits prior to making a coverage decision. For most claims, the investigation period would be reduced from 90 to 45 days. For claims covered by legal presumptions, the investigation period would be reduced even further to 30 days. This measure would also increase the amount of mandated employer-funded medical care that must be provided to injured workers — from $10,000 to $17,000 — during the period of time a claim is being investigated even if the claim is ultimately denied. Lastly, this measure would impose penalties on employers that would result in benefit expansions for workers covered by certain legal presumptions, and this provision applies retroactively.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

SB 270 (Durazo)
This measure would make it an unfair labor practice and subject public employers to penalties when there are mistakes, errors, or a failure to provide employee information as required to the employee’s recognized labor representatives.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

SB 278 (Leyva)
This measure would require public agencies in the case of any disallowed compensation as determined by CalPERS to continue paying the compensation to a retiree and make them whole for any claw-backs of already paid benefits.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

AB 654 (Reyes)
This measure would require the California Department of Public Health to publish a list of every workplace in the state where a COVID-19 outbreak has occurred on its website.
Outcome: Pass as amended | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

AB 1465 (Reyes)
This measure would require the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation, on or before Jan. 1, 2023, to submit a study to the Legislature on delays and access to care issues in medical provider networks.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

SB 284 (Stern)
This measure would extend the workers’ compensation presumption for PTSD to several classifications of public safety staff who were previously excluded.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

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Housing, Community and Economic Development

SB 9 (Atkins)
This measure would require cities and counties to ministerially approve, without condition or discretion, a housing development containing two residential units on an individual parcel in single-family zones. Additionally, this measure would require local governments to ministerially approve an urban lot split, thus creating two independent lots that may be sold separately. SB 9 would allow up to six housing units on a parcel that was otherwise zoned for one home.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

AB 215 (Chiu)
This measure would require cities to have a mid-cycle housing element consultation with HCD if housing production is below the regional average; require cities to amend their laws so as to attain HCD’s “pro-housing designation” if housing production is substantially below the regional average; and allow the Attorney General to enforce violations of the Housing Crisis Act of 2019.

AB 989 (Gabriel)
This measure would require HCD to establish a housing appeals committee and would establish procedures by which an applicant for a conditional use permit or other discretionary approval for a housing development project, could appeal to that committee the decision of a city or county to either deny the application or approve the application with conditions in a manner rendering it infeasible for the development of the housing development project.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

AB 602 (Grayson)
This measure would require a city to follow specific standards and practices when conducting an impact fee nexus study, including:
  • Prior to the adoption of an associated development fee or exaction, an impact fee nexus study be adopted.
  • That the study identifies the existing level of service for each assessed impact, identify the proposed new level of service, explain the level of metric being used, and include a finding of why the new level of service is necessary.
  • That a fee levied or imposed on a housing development project by a local agency be proportionate to the square footage of the proposed unit or units.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Oppose unless amended

SB 15 (Portantino)
This measure would allow cities to receive from HCD seven times the average of the annual amount of sales and use tax revenue generated by the big box retail or commercial shopping center site for the previous seven years, if the site has been rezoned, housing has been constructed and occupied.
Outcome: Pass as amended | Cal Cities Position: Support

AB 500 (Ward)
This measure would broaden the California Coastal Commission’s authority to include housing policy within the coastal zone.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

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Public Safety

SB 2 (Bradford)
This measure would lower the standard for filing a lawsuit under The Tom Bane Civil Rights Act, undercut the federally held doctrine of qualified immunity, and outline a peace officer decertification process that usurps the leadership of police chiefs.
Outcome: Pass as amended | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

AB 48 (Gonzalez)
This measure would prohibit the use of kinetic energy projectiles or chemical agents to disperse any assembly, protest, or demonstration, and would prohibit their use solely due to a violation of an imposed curfew, verbal threat, or non-compliance with a law enforcement directive. It would further limit those weapons only to be used to defend against a threat to life or serious bodily injury to any individual, including a peace officer.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Watch

SB 296 (Limon)
This measure would require each local jurisdiction that employs code enforcement officers to develop safety standards appropriate for the code enforcement officers employed in their jurisdiction. 
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Watch

SB 387 (Portantino)
This measure would require POST to work with stakeholders to develop a list of courses to include as requirements for obtaining a basic certificate; establishes the Statewide Law Enforcement Education Fund; and requires POST to establish statewide K-12 recruitment teams.
Outcome: Pass as amended | Cal Cities Position: Watch

SB 16 (Skinner)
This measure would make every incident involving the use of force, sustained findings of unlawful arrests and unlawful searches, and incidents where a peace officer or custodial officer engaged in conduct involving prejudice or discrimination on the basis of specified protected classes to be subject to disclosure; require indefinite retention of all complaints and related reports or findings currently in the possession of a department or agency; and require records subject to disclosure to be provided no later than 45 days from the date of a request for their disclosure, and would impose a civil fine not to exceed $1,000 per day for each day beyond 30 days that records subject to disclosure are not disclosed.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

SB 82 (Skinner)
This measure would redefine a felony charge of robbery without the use of a deadly weapon or great bodily injury to a misdemeanor petty theft, retroactively.
Outcome: Held | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

SB 210 (Wiener)
This measure would require Automated License Plate Reader  data that does not match a hotlist to be destroyed within 24 hours.
Outcome: Held | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

SB 314 (Wiener)
The measure would, until July 1, 2023, authorize the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to, for 365 days from the date the COVID-19 state of emergency order is lifted, or longer if the licensee has a pending application for permanent expansion of their premises, allow licensees to continue to exercise license privileges in an expanded licensed area authorized pursuant to a COVID-19 temporary catering permit.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Watch

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Revenue and Taxation  

SB 792 (Glazer)
This measure would require retailers whose annual online sales exceeded $1 million in the previous calendar year to track and report to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) the city or ZIP code where the purchaser resides for each sale within the state that is transacted online. The bill would direct retailers to report this information on the same schedule the retailer reports sales to the CDTFA.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Support

SB 555 (McGuire)
This measure would authorize a local agency to delegate its authority to collect their locally imposed transient occupancy tax on short-term rentals to the CDTFA. Specifically, local agencies would also be able to enter a contract with CDTFA for purposes of registration, rate posting, collection, and transmission of revenues necessary to collect and administer any transient occupancy tax imposed on a short-term rental.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Oppose unless amended

SB 49 (Umberg)
This measure would provide a state tax credit for small businesses that were closed for at least 30 consecutive days as a result of an emergency order.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Neutral  

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Transportation, Communications, and Public Works

AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry)
This measure would prioritize the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities throughout California through the ongoing collection of the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) surcharge. Specifically, these measures would:
  • Continue to fund CASF beyond the original 2022 sunset date.
  • Make it easier for local governments to apply for these grants.
  • Expand the definition of unserved, making more areas eligible for funding.
  • Raise speed requirements for new networks.
  • Make it more difficult for existing internet providers to block or delay grants.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Support

SB 640 (Becker)
This measure would authorize cities and counties to jointly submit proposed SB 1 road maintenance and rehabilitation projects.
Outcome: Pass as amended | Cal Cities Position: Support

AB 550 (Chiu)
This measure would provide local transportation authorities the option of creating speed safety pilot programs to protect drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and workers traveling on our roadways
Outcome: Held | Cal Cities Position: Support

SB 4 (Gonzalez)
This measure would prioritize the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities throughout California through the ongoing collection of the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) surcharge. Specifically, these measures would:
  • Continue to fund CASF beyond the original 2022 sunset date.
  • Make it easier for local governments to apply for these grants.
  • Expand the definition of unserved, making more areas eligible for funding.
  • Raise speed requirements for new networks.
  • Make it more difficult for existing internet providers to block or delay grants.
Outcome: Pass as amended | Cal Cities Position: Support

AB 859 (Irwin)
This measure would limit the type of data local agencies receive from for-profit transportation mobility providers, operating in their jurisdictions, to aggregated data that does not support smart infrastructure investment and is inadequate for compliance enforcement.
Outcome: Held | Cal Cities Position: Oppose

AB 34 (Muratsuchi)
This measure would enact a $10 billion general obligation bond measure for the statewide general election ballot on Nov. 8, 2022. Specifically, this measure would:
  • Allocate funding to cities, counties, special districts, school districts, universities, community colleges, state emergency service providers, California Native American tribes, and joint power authorities to build their own broadband networks.
  • Require funded networks to be "open-access" — meaning any provider could pay to use it.
  • Reserve 25% of funding for unserved or disadvantaged communities.
  • Direct the Department of Technology to administer funds.
Outcome: Held | Cal Cities Position: Support in concept

AB 1060 (Rodriguez)
This measure would establish a statewide emergency alert system called California Alert.
Outcome: Two-year bill | Cal Cities Position: Support

AB 1035 (Salas)
This measure would require local agencies to apply standard specifications that allow for the use of recycled materials at or above the level allowed in the California Department of Transportation’s most recently published standard specifications in streets and highways when feasible and cost-effective.
Outcome: Pass | Cal Cities Position: Oppose unless amended 

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