Four things to watch for in the Legislature in August

FILE -- In this Jan. 23, 2013 file photo, Gov. Jerry Brown gives his State of the State address before a joint session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.  State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis and Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, have proposed indentical bills that would require all legislation to be in print and online 72 hours before it can come to a vote.  Both bills would be constitutional amendments and would have to be approved by the voters. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

August is sure to be a busy month in Sacramento, as legislators fight to get their priorities passed before the legislative session ends on August 31. 

While a large number of bills will be debated, there are four things to watch for: 

Environment 

With the political backing of new polling, Senate Bill 32 — which would extend and increase the state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals — is sure to reappear. 

Not only is it a legacy project for the termed-out Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills — who authored the 2006 measure that this bill would extend — but it is backed by both Democratic leaders, Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon. 

“A clear majority of Californians strongly support our state’s climate policies and expect their elected leaders to build on our progress battling climate change and air pollution while making investments in clean energy across our state,” de Leon said in a statement on Wednesday. “This is why the Legislature should extend our climate targets in statute by passing Senate Bill 32.”

Republicans are opposed to the measure, which leaves the power to a handful of moderate, pro-business Democrats. The bill passed the Senate in 2015, but was defeated on the Assembly floor and then granted reconsideration.

An interesting data point: 15 Assembly members didn’t vote — which is a way of voting “no” without any accountability. 

Transportation

The Legislature has been in a special session on transportation since last summer to come up with a funding plan to fix the state’s crumbling roads — but with little headway. Gov. Jerry Brown estimates there are almost $6 billion worth of unfunded repairs throughout the state each year.

The dispute is largely between Democrats who have proposed additional revenues (taxes) and Republicans who believe new taxes aren’t necessary as the money already exists but has been redirected to stop budget shortfalls in other areas.

Rumor has it that Democrats will propose what could be a massive package including new revenue, like a gas tax hike, sometime next month — although, since there’s a special session, it could be introduced after the regular session ends.

Republicans are unlikely to budge, but it may not matter what they want. Republicans are in danger of ceding a supermajority to the Democrats in November. If that happens, Democrats would be able to approve new revenues without Republican support.

Of course, the required two-thirds majority wouldn’t leave much room for defections from moderate Democrats.

Overtime for farmworkers 

While farmworkers do get overtime, it has a much higher threshold than other professions. A revived bill would, over time, bring the threshold in line with other professions. You may remember that this bill was defeated in June, but it has been repackaged into another bill.

Proponents argue that farmworkers shouldn’t be exempt from the same overtime and break rules as everyone else. Opponents say farmers can’t afford it, and that an industry dependent on weather and external price setting can’t be regulated the same as other professions.

It’s unclear what would be different when the next vote comes that would make business-friendly Democrats, who sided with Republicans to defeat the measure, change their votes. Election year pressure may sway some vulnerable incumbents.

Of course, the measure was only three votes shy of passage, so proponents may target the seven Assembly members who simply didn’t vote, six of whom are Democrats.

Housing

It’s widely reported that the state faces an affordable housing crisis, particularly in urban centers.

Gov. Jerry Brown has been trying to increase affordable housing supply with a plan to reduce regulatory barriers for developers trying to build low-income housing. His ideas have not been embraced by the Legislature and he faces opposition largely from unions and environmentalists

Meanwhile, Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, still has hopes of putting a $3 billion, low-income housing bond on the November ballot. 

7 comments

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  1. JPR11
    JPR11 30 July, 2016, 09:28

    Let’s see: Obama spent $1T on shovel ready infrastructure, Clinton wants $300B for 2017 and Socialist CA want more gas tax. Seem we have it covered!

    Reply this comment
  2. Queeg
    Queeg 30 July, 2016, 12:47

    Comrades

    Enough is never enough….you know it. Gotta cover them pensions and juicy merit pay….

    Reply this comment
  3. Mike
    Mike 30 July, 2016, 16:10

    Many problems could be resolved with a 12th century plague. Less need for affordable housing, lowered demand for water. Power the electricity with burning the dead. Prius sized rats will make tunnels and climate change old news. California safaris to hunt the rats….a nice boost to tourism. Reality TV .NBA sized…rats taking over in Oakland lured by smells from barbecue joints.

    Reply this comment
  4. Bill - San Jose
    Bill - San Jose 31 July, 2016, 09:12

    “come up with a funding plan to fix the state’s crumbling roads”

    14+B per year for roads. Cash. In hand. 2B pays for CHP. Where is the rest? 12B. Every year. Without fail.

    Next topic about the revolution needed to remove the oligarchy.

    Reply this comment
  5. Bill - San Jose
    Bill - San Jose 31 July, 2016, 09:16

    Low income housing. For who?

    The farm workers do this work voluntarily. The weather and other factors do play a role in how workers are needed. I can actually see a need for separate over time rules. I’d have to read up more on it but from the stand point of reason, it does seem logical.

    Reply this comment
  6. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 1 August, 2016, 08:28

    The real green in this greenhouse effect are the big green $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ that Moonbeam and Newssom wants as well as the Sierra Club and the various west coast enviroemntalists groups

    Reply this comment
  7. Mr. Pickle
    Mr. Pickle 2 August, 2016, 11:57

    Watch the Transportation Committee carefully. In there, due to AB2175 being held up by Sen Jim Beall, is the REFUSAL to hear AB2175 in Senate Committee, even those AB2175 PASSED w/100% Bi-Partisan approval. Why is this important?
    AB2175 reversed a TAKE of $10 Million per year from Fuel Tax Revenues that users pay to support a Special Fund in Department of Parks and Recreation, and diverts said fuel tax revenue to the BROKE General Fund. This has been going on for 5 years. This works out to $2,367.42 PER DAY 7 days a week for 5 years……. Go figure!
    CAN YOU SAY CORRUPTION AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF OUR STATE VOERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION! Grrrrrrrrr….

    Reply this comment

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Jerry BrownJim BeallKevin de LeonAnthony Rendon

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