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STATE  ISSUES

Homelessness, skyrocketing taxes, the border crisis and crippling mandates. Can it get worse for Californians?  YOU BET!

Our state legislators recently introduced a slew of bill ideas for this years' legislative session.  Below we've compiled a list of some of the worst suggestions...  You be the judge.

CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE

If you’re like us, you tend to follow national politics.

 

But the real action is closer to home. State legislation has far more impact on quality of life issues than almost anything coming out of Washington D.C., except perhaps federal taxation. Democracy also becomes more tangible as our voices are closer to the action and proportionately larger.

 

We at SDNCNA feel it’s important to have some knowledge of what’s happening in Sacramento, and to share how you can impact the legislative process here in California going forward. Before we do that, let’s take a quick look at the government structure in Sacramento, our state’s capitol.

 

Article IV of the United States Constitution requires that all states have a Republican Form of Government. Not the political party, but a structure that is similar to our Federal Republic. That means Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government. The Executive Branch is filled by our Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and the apex of our Judiciary is the California Supreme Court.

 

In the Legislature, California has a bicameral structure consisting of two houses: the Assembly and the Senate. We have 40 Senators that are referred to as “State Senators” to distinguish from our two “United States Senators” that represent California’s interests before our Federal Government. In the Assembly, we have 80 members; our Assembly is our state’s analogy to the House of Representatives in Washington D.C.

 

Legislation can originate in either house of the Legislature. In our next article, we’ll look at the legislative process.

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The Legislative Process in California

At SDNCNA, we try to make politics as painless and concise as possible. Knowledge of the legislative process is important because it is during this process that we may make our voices heard and affect legislation. Staff reports are public records and best accessed by working with your local legislators’ District Office. You may also sign up with the legislature to track a bill’s progress as described at the end of this article.

 

This is only a brief summary of how a bill becomes law. The full description can be found at https://www.assembly.ca.gov/public-services/legislative-process

 

 

How a Bill Becomes Law in California

 

A bill may originate in either the Senate or Assembly, where it will be sent to the appropriate sub-committee for at least 30 days to review and modify. If the bill impacts the state fiscally, it must also pass through the Appropriations Committee. After any final changes during this process, the entire chamber votes on the bill. Passage requires a simple majority: 21 votes in the Senate or 41 votes in the Assembly1.

 

Upon passage, the bill is sent to the other chamber where this process is repeated. Differences between the chambers’ final versions are resolved by the Conference Committee.

 

Once passed by both chambers, the bill is sent to the Governor. The Governor may sign, approve without signing, or veto the bill. If vetoed, the bill returns to the Legislature where a two-thirds vote of each house is required to override the veto. If the veto is not overridden, the bill fails.

 

Public input to Legislators or the Governor is acceptable at any stage in this process.

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How to Follow a Bill’s Progress in the Legislature:

Sign up to follow the progress of any bill by clicking https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov then click on the tab “Bill Information” and enter the bill number in the window provided on the “Bill Search” tab. This will then take you to the bill itself. Click on “Track Bill” to the right of the title to follow the progress of that bill.

1 Urgency and Appropriations measures require a two-thirds approval: 27 votes in the Senate and 54 in the Assembly.

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CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE: HOME OF BAD IDEAS

ACA 1 and ACA 13, California Assembly Constitutional Amendments to lower voter level approval to increase state spending and increasing taxes.

A package of two measures aimed at changing the California Constitution to reduce the popular voting threshold to increase property taxes and issue new debt will now face voters in November 2024 after being passed by the state legislature.

Authored by Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters)

 

ACA 1 is a constitutional amendment that lowers the voter approval threshold from two-thirds to 55% to raise certain taxes for local governments to build public infrastructure, affordable housing, and permanent shelter for homeless. This would provide increased tax authority for many local government agencies in California—not just cities and counties, but thousands of potentially overlapping special districts.  This could, among other things, eliminate prop 13 and dramatically increase property taxes. 

Authored by Assembly Member Chris Ward (D-San Diego)

ACA 13 is a constitutional amendment about raising taxes and making it easier to raise taxes.   It would make it more difficult to pass the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, a measure qualified for the November 2024 ballot that would clarify that all increases in local taxes would require 66.7% voter approval — and close a loophole created by a 2017 court decision that has been used to pass local taxes introduced by citizens’ groups, not local government — and require that a state tax increase receive not just a ⅔ vote in each body of the state legislature, but also a majority vote at the ballot box.  

Federal Legislation - H.R. amendment 641 to remove section 24220 of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Authored by US Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) 

 

Section 24220 of the original bill directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop rules that would require new cars to be equipped with technology that "passively monitors the performance of a driver," identifies whether they may be impaired and prevents or limits motor vehicle operation "if an impairment is detected."  Methods to determine impairment include monitoring the air content inside the vehicle for alcohol or other chemicals in the air as well as behavior.

 

SB 227

Unemployment: Excluded Workers Program

Authored by State Senator Maria Elena Delazo (D-Los Angeles). 

 

This bill would provide laid-off illegal immigrants with $300 per week for up to 20 weeks with funds from state coffers. In March, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the statewide bill.

Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 2.

State Controlled Urban Planning- stripping cities and counties of the right to reject controversial government subsidized housing in their area.  Proposed by CA Senator Ben Allen (D-Los Angeles).

 

This amendment would repeal Article XXXIV and eliminate your right to vote down government subsidized high density low income housing developments in your neighborhood. Two other laws – SB 9 and SB 10 – have already eliminated single-family zoning in California and allow developers to put up to 10 units each parcel previously zoned for 1 unit!  

 

 

 

AB 205

New Flat Fee Utility Charges Based on Income

signed by Governor Gavin Newsom  in 2022.

 

The bill states that “the commission may authorize fixed charges [for utilities] … The fixed charge shall be established on an income-graduated basis.”

 

The specific rates in this “flat fee” scheme are now being voted on by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The proposal would charge customers of Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric fixed rates based on income.

 

AB 957

Parents to Lose Custody of Kids Over Transgenderism.

Authored by Assemblywoman Lori Wilson (D-Fairfield).

 

This bill would strongly encourage California state judges to favor the parent who is affirming a child’s transgender identity when determining who gets custody or receives visitation rights. The bill seeks to push a judge towards removing the custody rights of parents who don’t affirm their child’s self-determined transgender identity or don’t want their trans-identifying children sterilized with puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and mutilating surgeries.

AB 665

Minors Can Consent to Counseling Without Parents. 

Authored by Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles).

 

Bill allows minors 12 and older to consent to their own mental health treatment or place themselves into an outpatient residential shelter without parents’ consent or notification if the professional, after consulting the minor, feels the involvement would be inappropriate. Currently, minors over 12 can only consent to these services if they are in danger of serious physical or mental harm to themselves or to others, or if the minor is the alleged victim of incest or child abuse. This bill would remove those two requirements.
 

AB 1078

Prevents Local Control of Books/Curriculum in Public Schools. Authored by Assemblyman Jackson (D-Moreno Valley).

 

This bill would remove powers that local school boards have over the curriculum taught in their school district by requiring the school district to receive approval from the state board of education before “removing any instructional materials or ceasing to teach any curriculum.” School districts would also have to get the same approval before removing “any books, publications, or papers from schools and school libraries.” The bill also requires that “every instructional material” adopted by a school district “shall include proportional and accurate representation of California’s diversity in the following categories: race, gender, socioeconomic status, religious and sexuality.” This bill is part of Jackson’s “Anti-Racism” bill package and seems targeted at school districts that have banned critical race theory.

 

 

AB 659

Mandates Vaccine for Public and Private School Teenagers. Authored by Assemblywoman Cecilia M. Aguiar-Curry (D-Napa).

 

This bill would add the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to the list of 10 other immunizations required to attend public or private school. The vaccine must be given by the 8th grade. Only homeschooled children will be exempt. Medical exemptions approved by the state will be permitted, but religious or personal exemptions are not allowed. 

 

SB 58

Legalizes Mind Altering Magic Mushroom for Recreational Use.

Authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). 

 

This bill seeks to decriminalize various harmful hallucinogens for recreational use for those 21 and older, like magic mushrooms (Psilocybin). It also includes mind altering, illegal and dangerous hallucinogens like Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), Ibogaine, Mescaline, and Psilocyn. Senator Wiener introduced a similar bill last year which included LSD and that bill was vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom. 

 

AB 1432

Requires Insurance Companies to Cover Abortions and Trans-Treatments. Authored by Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles).

 

This bill requires all California insurance policies to cover “abortion, abortion-related services,” and “gender-affirming care,” which includes sterilizing cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers for minors, plus sex change operations and plastic surgeries to make people look like the opposite sex.

 

AB 5

LGBTQ Indoctrination Training for Teachers.

Authored by Assemblyman Rick Chavez Zbur (D-Santa Monica). 

 

This bill provides tools and training so public school teachers can create a school culture that embraces an LGBTQ worldview about identity and sexual behavior in order to make LGBTQ-identified kids feel supported.

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