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Last stop: On these 2018 California bills, it’s the governor’s call

By | Sept. 1, 2018

Jerry Brown’s final year as governor was one of fits and starts in the California Legislature.

Democrats lost their supermajority early in the year when three lawmakers stepped down facing sexual harassment accusations. Then in June, voters recalled Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman because he had supported a hike in the gas tax. The chaos made it a bad year for brokering big deals.

One of Brown’s key priorities—a bill to link California’s electrical grid with those in other states—stalled on the last night of session. A months-long effort to craft a plan to expand health care had already fizzled out. So did a measure to levy a voluntary tax to clean up toxic tap water. Lawmakers shelved a bill that would have made California the first state to set a higher standard for when police can use deadly force. They killed a high-profile bill that would have compelled more housing development near transit corridors, and a proposal to regulate flamethrowers.

Not to say there was no action. A special committee formed to attack the problem of wildfires in California produced a wide-ranging bill that included aggressive tree thinning and allowing utilities to raise customers’ energy rates to help cover fire costs. Lawmakers passed a data privacy bill under threat of a similar measure landing on the ballot—one of three deals leveraged by initiatives.  They responded to a wave of sexual harassment scandals by introducing at least 20 bills.  And—working with Brown and California’s Chief Justice—they passed a sweeping change to the criminal justice system by eliminating cash bail. The day after Brown signed the bail bill into law, the bail bond industry filed a referendum seeking to overturn it on the 2020 ballot.

When the Legislature finally gaveled down, it had approved about 900 bills this year. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting or consequential ones heading to Brown’s desk. He has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto all bills—or he could do neither, in which case a bill would become law without his signature.

We’ll keep updating here as the governor makes his last pass at deciding which will become law in California.

—Laurel Rosenhall

Signed by Governor Brown


  1. 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  2. For-Profit Charter Schools
  3. Drinks in Kids' Meals
  4. Plastic Straws, by Request Only
  5. Wildfire Response
  6. 'Junk' Health Insurance
  7. Conservatorships for Mentally Ill Homeless People
  8. Secret Settlements
  9. Women on Corporate Boards
  10. Net Neutrality
  11. Police Accountability
  12. Rehab Centers

Vetoed by Governor Brown


  1. School Start Times
  2. Mental Health Counselors on Campus
  3. Bar Time: A Later Last Call
  4. Trump Tax Workarounds
  5. Abortion Pills at Campus Health Centers
  6. Drug Injection Sites
  7. Forced Arbitration

Signed by Governor Brown

100 Percent Renewable Energy

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Kevin de León’s SB 100 would require the state’s utilities to acquire 100 percent of their power from clean energy sources by 2045. California and Hawaii would be the only two states with such ambitious renewable energy goals.

WHO SUPPORTS IT
A long list of environmental groups and public health advocates are joined by solar energy companies, who all say that the state has proved that it can speed up adoption of renewable energy from the sun, wind and hydroelectric plants.

WHO’S OPPOSED
Oil companies and manufacturing groups strongly opposed the bill, saying that ratepayers would be punished by higher rates.

WHY IT MATTERS
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is at the core of California’s battle against climate change. By prioritizing renewable energy—and cutting carbon from the atmosphere–the state continues its environmental leadership.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Signed by Governor Brown on September 10, 2018.

—Julie Cart

For-Profit Charter Schools

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

AB 406 would ban for-profit companies from running charter schools in California. Carried by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, a Sacramento Democrat, the bill also seeks to prevent non-profit charter schools from relying heavily on for-profit companies to manage their operations.

WHO SUPPORTS IT 

Labor unions piled on in support of the bill, echoing McCarty’s argument that public tax dollars should not be used to enrich corporate executives. After opposing earlier versions, the California Charter Schools Association switched its position to support, saying the minority of charter schools that are for-profit shouldn’t be allowed to tarnish the image of the broader charter school movement.

WHO’S OPPOSED

The product of a hard-fought compromise between charter school advocates and teacher unions, AB 406 faces no major opposition. But it must now go before a governor who has already vetoed a ban on for-profit charters schools once, in 2015.

WHY IT MATTERS

Charter schools operated by for-profit companies enroll thousands of California children. A 2016 investigation by the Attorney General’s office found that the state’s largest provider of online public K-12 education, California Virtual Academies, had inflated attendance numbers and misled parents about student performance. While the schools were technically non-profits, they were run by K12 Inc, a for-profit, national charter school operator.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Signed by Governor Brown on September 7, 2018.

—Felicia Mello

Drinks in Kids' Meals

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Sugary soda could no longer be a default beverage in kids’ meals in restaurants under his SB 1192, carried by Democratic Sen. Bill Monning of Carmel. Choices would be limited to water, plain milk, or a non-dairy substitute like almond milk, though customers could still order a sugary drink such as soda or juice at no extra charge upon request.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

The American Heart Association, Public Health Advocates, California Alliance of YMCAs and Latino Coalition for a Healthy California co-sponsored the bill, which has bipartisan support. Health care advocates say the marketing of sugary drinks has promoted childhood obesity and associated health problems, and that healthier habits early on help kids make healthier choices later in life.

WHO’S OPPOSED

Ideological opponents say parents don’t need guidance from the state in determining children’s diets. The California Restaurant Association has not taken a position on the bill. The American Beverage Association typically opposes restrictions on sugary beverage consumption, but is neutral this time around and has similar guidelines in place at elementary schools.

WHY IT MATTERS

Diabetes and obesity are leading drivers of high healthcare costs. Research shows children consume more sugar when they drink soda at a younger age. This puts them at a greater risk for tooth decay, obesity and diabetes. By changing the default option, advocates hope children will adopt healthier habits, such as preferring water over a sugary drink.

GOVERNOR’S DECISION

Signed by Governor Brown on September 20, 2018.

—Elizabeth Castillo

Plastic Straws, by Request Only

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

In an attempt to curb plastic pollution, AB 1884 would ban full-service, dine-in restaurants from offering single-use plastic straws unless they are requested by customers. Restaurants violating the law would be subject to warnings and small fines. The law exempts fast-food establishments, a major source of plastic straws.

WHO SUPPORTS IT 

Introduced by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, Democrat from Whittier, the bill was supported by prominent environmental groups like the National Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club California. Organizations concerned with preserving beach and ocean health were especially keen on the bill.

WHO’S OPPOSED

In this case, it’s more important which interest groups didn’t oppose it. The California Restaurant Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, and the Plastics Industry Association did not fight the bill. That’s partly because it fell short of an outright ban, spared fast food chains, and the enforcement penalties appear relatively light. Conservative legislators did express their opposition to the bill as an unnecessary regulatory burden.

WHY IT MATTERS

The bill represents the latest in a growing string of California laws aimed at keeping oceans, rivers and other parts of the environment free from plastic trash. Four years ago, California became the first state in the country to ban single-use plastic bags. Environmental groups hope that, much like the plastic-bag ban, other states will follow California’s example on the issue.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Signed by Governor Brown on September 20, 2018.

From his signing message: “Plastics, in all forms—straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc.—are choking our planet. It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it.”

—Matt Levin

Wildfire Response

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

After last year’s deadly wildfires, legislators were under pressure to take action to prevent more blazes in the future and figure out how to pay for billions of dollars in damages. This mega-bill,  SB 901,  is the result of a special committee formed to tackle the issue. It sets aside as $200 million for forest health—thinning trees and other projects to make the state’s forests less fire-prone. It also allows utility companies—which are liable for the costs of any fires sparked by their power lines—to pass some of the costs of the 2017 fires onto their customers after a review determining how much the company’s shareholders can afford. For fires that began this year and beyond, a new commission would decide whether utilities can pass costs onto customers and suggest broader changes to liability laws.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Pacific Gas & Electric, labor unions, fire victims, loggers, firefighting groups, cities and several chambers of commerce say that there’s more good than bad in the bill. They make the point that no one is served if the cost of damages causes a major utility to go bankrupt.

WHO OPPOSES IT 

Ratepayer groups—including residential consumers as well as industrial energy users like big agricultural and oil companies—oppose the bill, calling it a bailout for wealthy utilities that failed to properly maintain equipment to prevent fire.

WHY IT MATTERS

California is still experiencing the most destructive fire season ever, and a recent state report forecasts more to come. And more and more research suggests that carbon released during and after fires may make it difficult for the state to reach its climate change goals.

The legislation is, to say the least, the result of a major compromise, and not likely to please everyone. It’s also an attempt to knit together disparate aspects of wildfire response. No one policy can begin to address all the complications of the issue, but proponents argue that’s no reason to not act.

GOVERNOR’S DECISION

Signed by Governor Brown on September 21, 2018.

Brown, in a press release on the bill: “Wildfires in California aren’t going away, and we have to do everything possible to prevent them. This bill is complex and requires investment – but it’s absolutely necessary.”

—Julie Cart

'Junk' Health Insurance

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

The Legislature wants to outlaw so-called junk health insurance—short-term policies that are generally cheaper and offer less coverage than other plans and typically exclude pre-existing conditions. The bill would uphold federal Affordable Care Act standards for basic benefits that include coverage of pre-existing conditions.

The measure bucks the Trump administration’s decision that states can allow insurance that excludes such things as cancer treatment, maternity care, prescription drugs and such pre-existing conditions as allergies, asthma and diabetes. California would be the first state to explicitly put the ban into law, though several other states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, have stated they wouldn’t allow low-cost, short-term junk insurance. Supporters of these policies say they can be a good option for some people.

Under the Affordable Care Act, short-term plans were designed to fill coverage gaps for up to 90 days while people transitioning to new plans waited for them to kick in. The new federal rules allow states to turn those bare-bones, short-term plans into coverage for up to three years.

WHO SUPPORTS A BAN

Health care advocates, medical organizations, employer groups and even some health insurance companies, such as Kaiser Permanente and Blue Shield of California, endorsed the bill.

WHO OPPOSES IT

Three groups have lodged objections to the bill. The California Association of Health Underwriters and TechNet, both trade groups, have expressed concern that eliminating short-term plans could force some consumers into expensive emergency-room care during a gap in coverage. Anthem Blue Cross has said it agrees with the federal change and that short-term plans with limited coverage offer value for some customers.

WHY IT MATTERS

People with short-term insurance still need health care, and if they get sick and find their insurance won’t pay for it, then taxpayers may have to—in the more expensive ER setting. And short-term insurance causes higher premiums for others, according to a study by the nonprofit Urban Institute. That’s because young, healthy people are the ones who tend to pick inexpensive health insurance with little coverage, which means people with Affordable Care Act-level coverage tend to be comparatively less healthy and require more care. Without limits on short-term insurance, the Urban Institute predicted a 17.8% rise in premium costs for fuller policies.

GOVERNOR’S DECISION

Signed by Governor Brown on September 23, 2018.

—David Gorn

Conservatorships for Mentally Ill Homeless People

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO:

SB 1045 would create a 5-year, opt-in pilot program for San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego Counties, making it easier to conserve individuals with serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders who refuse treatment and have been detained frequently by police. Counties would have to prove that they could provide housing and wraparound services before they could participate.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

San Francisco Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener sponsored the bill, which also received backing from San Francisco Mayor London Breed and several San Francisco tourism interests, as well as the cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Fairfield, and the California Psychiatric Association. They argued that current laws often prevent  people from getting the treatment they deserve even when they are unable to request it. Some public health workers said it was frustrating to see the same mentally ill people routinely cycling through on 72-hour holds. Wiener, who contends the bill would affect a small minority of homeless people, said “We do have a very large conservatorship program in California—it’s called jail.”

WHO’S OPPOSED?

An array of advocates for homeless people joined the American Civil Liberties Union in maintaining that it was a mistake to make it easier to conserve people when low-cost housing and other support programs are in short supply, particularly for anyone with a criminal background. They noted that it was senseless to funnel money into the court process of expanding conservatorships when that money could be better spent giving people the housing and treatment options they need.

WHY IT MATTERS:

Californians are troubled by the presence on their streets of people who exhibit symptoms of mental illness—both because it makes neighborhoods less safe and also because it feels inhumane. But if there is general agreement over the need to do something to help, there are stark differences of opinion about what should be done. Other bills attempting to address this issue on a statewide basis failed to advance, but if these pilot programs win authorization, expect the rest of the state to closely watch the outcomes in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

GOVERNOR’S DECISION

Signed by Governor Brown on September 27, 2018.

Secret Settlements

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

Carried by Chino Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva, this SB 820 would end a confidentiality provision often used in settlement agreements to silence victims in sexual harassment cases and protect the reputations of serial offenders. The “STAND Act,” as it has been named, won’t bar settlement agreements. But while a victim’s name could be kept private, perpetrators’ names could no longer be kept confidential in cases of sexual assault, harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

WHO SUPPORTS IT 

The California Women’s Law Center and Consumer Attorneys of California say basic facts to a settlement should be made available so repeat offenders can be identified. It’s also supported by Attorney General Xavier Becerra and advocates for equal rights.

WHO’S OPPOSED

The California Chamber of Commerce, representing business interests, argues that employee allegations are often disputed, and settlements often occur because neither party wants the expense and distraction of litigation that either side could easily lose. The one-sided loss of privacy protections, they say, will cause more employers to take workplace claims to trial to protect their public images, costing money and creating more trauma for workers who are abused.

WHY IT MATTERS

Secret settlements silence victims while allowing serial offenders to continue harassing. Making disclosure easier protects workers from abuse and employers from potential liability. Also the threat of exposure may deter sexual misconduct in the workplace.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Signed by Governor Brown on September 30, 2018.

—Antoinette Siu

Women on Corporate Boards

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

Under SB 826, publicly held companies with principal executive offices in California would be required to have at least one female director by Dec. 31, 2019, or else face a fine. By the end of 2021, corporations with five directors would have to have at least two female directors, and corporations with six directors or more would have to have at least three female directors. Under this bill, authored by two female Democrats—Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins—corporations out of compliance would have to add a board seat and fill it with a woman if none opens before the deadlines.

WHO SUPPORTS IT 

The National Association of Women Business Owners sponsored the bill, urging the state to set an example and consider evidence that companies led by female directors perform better financially. Women’s business groups and small business associations also support it, noting that mandated gender diversity on corporate boards is common in Europe, and that the results of voluntary diversification have been slow.

WHO’S OPPOSED

A coalition of some two dozen business groups led by the California Chamber of Commerce are fighting the measure, saying it focuses too narrowly on gender, as opposed to other kinds of diversity, and violates federal and state constitutions. There is no federal requirement for female representation on U.S. boards.

WHY IT MATTERS

According to the bill’s authors, a quarter of the publicly held corporations in California do not have a single woman in their boardrooms, a reflection of the male domination of corporate boards nationally. Gender representation in the corporate world has been an issue of huge debate, and this bill would make California the first state to enact legally binding requirements for women on boards.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Signed by Governor Brown on September 30, 2018.

From Gov. Brown’s signing statement: “Given all the special privileges that corporations have enjoyed for so long, it’s high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half the ‘persons’ in America.”

—Antoinette Siu

Net Neutrality

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 822 by Democratic State Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco would restore key Obama-era internet net neutrality regulations rolled back by the Trump administration. The goal: To prevent internet service providers from blocking, slowing or favoring content, charging extra for fast lanes, collecting new fees from apps as a condition of internet access and favoring preferred apps by exempting them from consumers’ data caps if that means rival startups and small businesses will be harmed.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Technology companies say net neutrality makes the internet a level playing field, particularly for smaller companies and startups, and that it deters censorship and protects innovation. Advocates argue consumers should be free to choose what they access, without interference from the internet service providers that control the pipeline. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and several former FCC commissioners are among the supporters, along with the Writers Guild of America and American Civil Liberties Union.

WHO’S OPPOSED

AT&T, Verizon, TMobile, and other broadband interests and internet service providers say the internet should be governed by a single national policy, not a state-by-state patchwork, and argue that they do not throttle speeds or interfere with access. They also say this measure would add to their costs and thus prevent them from upgrading their equipment and keeping prices low for consumers. Ideological opponents of net neutrality say California is overreaching and service providers should be able to upcharge for faster service if there is a market for it.

WHY IT MATTERS

Access to the internet and the infrastructure that supports it has been central to the debate over how best to protect consumers and ensure fair competition, and California’s Silicon Valley has been at the forefront. Backlash to the Trump administration’s rollback of net neutrality rules imposed by the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama era has already prompted federal litigation. A California net neutrality law is expected to face legal challenges, too.

GOVERNOR’S DECISION

Signed by Gov. Brown on September 30, 2018.

But within hours of that signature, the Trump administration filed a lawsuit to block it, contending that the state’s action was “unlawful and anti-consumer” because it is in conflict with the federal government’s position and imposes burdensome regulations on the Internet. “Once again the California Legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

—Antoinette Siu

Police Accountability

WHAT THE BILLS WOULD DO

Sacramento police thought Stephon Clark was holding a gun when they killed him in March in his grandmother’s backyard. But he was actually holding a cell phone, and the death of another unarmed black man at the hands of police triggered weeks of protests in the Capitol as well as proposals for new laws. Two police accountability bills collapsed under opposition from law enforcement groups: One would have made a tougher standard for police to use deadly force, and another that would have the Attorney General investigate police shootings. Two other bills advanced that would create more transparency for police:

  • Assembly Bill 748 would require police departments to release body camera footage of most shootings within 45 days.
  • Senate Bill 1421 would make investigation records public in police shootings and confirmed cases of sexual assault or lying by police.

WHO SUPPORTS THEM

The American Civil Liberties Union—as well as publishers, broadcasters and numerous criminal justice reform groups—argue that making videos and misconduct records public will improve safety and foster trust between communities and police.

WHO OPPOSES THEM

Many law enforcement groups lobbied against the bills, saying they violate officers’ privacy and could discourage them from doing their jobs. But the California Police Chiefs Association negotiated on SB 1421 and eventually supported it.

WHY IT MATTERS

California goes further than many states in terms of protecting police from public scrutiny. In most states, the public has at least some access to records on police misconduct, but California law has shielded such information since 1978. These bills would begin to shine some light on law enforcement practices and help Californians know if the officers who patrol their streets have a history of misconduct.

GOVERNOR’S DECISION

Both bills signed by Governor Brown on September 30, 2018.

—Laurel Rosenhall

Rehab Centers

WHAT THE BILLS WOULD DO

In an effort to put some “sober” into sober-living homes, the Legislature passed three bills to rein in some of the unregulated drug-rehab houses across the state, particularly in the “Rehab Riviera” along the Orange County coast. Hundreds of sober-living homes have been set up in tony coastal communities, many of them reported to be cash cows for their owners and doing little to promote rehabilitation.

SB 992 would establish a voluntary registry for unlicensed sober-living homes and give a stick to the state Department of Health Care Services: It could revoke the license of a drug-recovery facility for any abuses by an unlicensed sober-living home affiliated with the facility.

SB 1228 would bar licensed drug-rehab facilities from making money through patient referrals, including referrals to sober-living homes.

AB 3162 would make new rehab licenses provisional for a year, increase fines for noncompliance and let the state pull rehab facilities’ licenses for “good cause.”

WHO SUPPORTS THEM

Cities along the Rehab Riviera and the Orange County Board of Supervisors have endorsed the three bills.

WHO OPPOSES THEM

An association of emergency-room physicians raised concerns that California needs more drug-rehabilitation centers, not fewer, and that giving in to neighbor complaints about the facilities further stigmatizes recovery.

WHY IT MATTERS

It has been difficult to regulate sober-living centers because they’re homes, with six or fewer residents, and protected under the federal Fair Housing Act. But neighbors say many of them are party houses, not rehabilitation centers. This trio of bills would take a few steps toward keeping tabs on sober-living homes, possibly curtailing some inappropriate practices.

GOVERNOR’S DECISION

All three bills signed by Governor Brown on September 26, 2018.

—David Gorn

Vetoed by Governor Brown

School Start Times

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Sleep-deprived kids could catch a few more winks if SB 328 takes effect. The bill would prevent school districts from scheduling middle and high school classes to start any earlier than 8:30 a.m. Rural school districts get an exemption.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

SB 328 gets high marks from sleep scientists, the California State PTA and some school districts, who say early start times can lead to chronic sleep loss, compromising students’ mental and physical health.

WHO’S OPPOSED

The California School Boards Association argues districts need to stagger start times in order to use their bus fleets efficiently and accommodate parents’ work schedules. They succeeded in quashing the bill last year, but the Legislature resurrected it in August. Teacher unions were split on the issue, with the California Federation of Teachers supporting the bill while the California Teachers Association opposed it.

WHY IT MATTERS

More than three-quarters of California’s middle and high schools start classes before 8:30, according to a legislative analysis.

GOVERNOR’S DECISION

Vetoed by Governor Brown on September 20, 2018.

From his veto message: “This is a one-size-fits-all approach that is opposed by teachers and school boards…These are the types of decisions best handled in the local community.”

—Felicia Mello

Mental Health Counselors on Campus

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 968 would require all California State University and University of California campuses to provide at least one mental health counselor for every 1,500 students. Campuses would also have to survey students every three years on their mental health needs, and share their findings with the legislature. Sen. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and Democrat from Sacramento, authored the bill.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Students have been raising the alarm about a growing demand for campus mental health services, citing the contentious political climate and high living costs as contributing to their stress. The California Faculty Association, which also represents CSU mental health counselors, co-sponsored the bill along with SEIU California. A coalition of health care advocacy organizations and the Cal State Students Association also endorsed it.

WHO’S OPPOSED

The bill garnered no official opposition. But CSU’s director of wellness told CALmatters she wasn’t sure mandating staffing ratios was the best way to improve mental health care. CSU and UC would have to spend a combined $10 to $14 million to comply in the first year the bill takes effect, according to a legislative analysis.

WHY IT MATTERS

Only eight of 23 Cal State campuses currently meet the staffing levels recommended by the national accreditor for campus counseling centers. However, SB 968 excludes community colleges, which have even fewer mental health counselors. It also doesn’t set aside any funding, so it will only go into effect if the legislature passes a separate bill to pay for it.

GOVERNOR’S DECISION

Vetoed by Governor Brown on September 23, 2018.

From his veto message: “Investing greater resources in student mental health is an understandable goal. Such investments, however, should be actively considered and made within the budget process.”

—Felicia Mello

Bar Time: A Later Last Call

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 905 would allow nine California cities to keep bars open until 4 a.m., should they choose to. State law currently bans alcohol from being served past 2 a.m. As part of a five-year pilot program to launch in 2021, the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Coachella could extend last call for two more hours. Those cities would be free to restrict the added hours to certain days of the week or to bars in certain neighborhoods.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener, Democrat from San Francisco, the bill was backed by prominent business, nightlife and tourism groups including the California Chamber of Commerce and Uber. Several big city mayors also voiced support, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

WHO’S OPPOSED

Organizations dedicated to alcohol and drug abuse prevention, who worry that an extended last call would result in more alcohol-related crimes, injuries and drunk driving. Major law enforcement groups did not take a stand on the bill.

WHY IT MATTERS 

Envious of places like New York City, urbanites across California chafe against the statewide 2 a.m. curfew. Wiener floated a more comprehensive bill last year that would have allowed any city in California to change its last call cutoff. If successful, the pilot program could loosen last call times across the state.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Vetoed by Governor Brown on September 28, 2018.

From the governor’s veto message: “California’s laws regulating late night drinking have been on the books since 1913. I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem.”

—Matt Levin

Trump Tax Workarounds

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 539 would help Californians get around the the new $10,000 federal cap on state and local deductions by expanding to 75 percent an existing tax credit for contributions to a state college scholarship program. Amended onto another bill in late June by Sen. Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat running for U.S. Senate, it was one of three proposed state workarounds to the federal tax overhaul, and the only one that passed.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

California Democrats have assailed the new federal cap on state and local tax deductions as a partisan slap by congressional Republicans at high-tax blue states, and proposed the workaround as a way for Californians to circumvent a likely tax hit.  UC and CSU student organizations also support it, since the program being expanded benefits working and low-income college students.

WHO’S OPPOSED

Teachers unions opposed the expanded tax credit as a potential drain on revenue and therefore school funding. Business and tax groups also say the charitable write-off workaround is legally dubious, and Gov. Jerry Brown has expressed skepticism. In August, the IRS issued a proposed new regulation that would outlaw most federal tax deductions for state and local tax payments above the limit.

WHY IT MATTERS

Property values in California are higher than in most states and so are property taxes, so the federal cap will dramatically reduce a significant deduction for many California homeowners, including many in the middle class. If this workaround is approved, it would soften some of the financial blow while increasing aid to college students. If not, many Californians could end up paying higher federal taxes, on top of relatively high state taxes.

GOVERNOR’S DECISION

Vetoed by Governor Brown on September 29, 2018.

From the governor’s veto message: “This measure started as a bold idea but because of adverse changes in the federal tax law, it now confuses an already complicated scheme and could invite intervention by the Internal Revenue Service.”

—Antoinette Siu

Abortion Pills at Campus Health Centers

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 320 would require public universities to provide the abortion pill at on-campus health centers by Jan. 1, 2022. Funding for the first year would be provided by a private foundation. Sen. Connie Levya, a Democrat from Chino, carried the bill.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

The Women’s Foundation of California secured $20 million to fund the service. Advocates include the American Civil Liberties Union of California and American Academy of Pediatrics, California. Advocates note that access to abortion is part of reproductive health care, and argue that students, particularly those who are low-income and lacking transportation, should not have to go off-campus for a service that can be provided at a student clinic.

WHO’S OPPOSED

Students for Life of America argues that access isn’t a problem and the bill ignores the needs of students opposed to abortion. Some lawmakers opposed to the bill wonder what happens when the initial funding runs out.

WHY IT MATTERS

Women in their 20s received the majority of abortions in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advocates argue that without on-campus access to abortion, some women are being denied a constitutional right.

GOVERNOR’S DECISION

Vetoed by Governor Brown on September 3o, 2018.

From the governor’s veto message: “Because the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary.”

—Elizabeth Castillo

Drug Injection Sites

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Promoted as a move to stem overdoses among heroin addicts, Assembly Bill 186 would allow San Francisco to approve “safe injection sites”—essentially clinics where addicts can shoot up under medical supervision. The idea is to get hard-core drug addicts off the streets and put them in a safer situation where nurses can administer life-saving medication if they show signs of overdose. This bill applies only to San Francisco; it is a narrower version of a proposal that failed in the Legislature last year that would have allowed eight California counties to approve injection sites.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Doctors and other professionals who treat addiction—as well as groups that promote drug decriminalization—are the main advocates behind the bill, saying it’s a safer alternative to the current situation in which thousands of needles litter the streets and drug overdoses are on the rise. San Francisco’s Chamber of Commerce and District Attorney George Gascon also support it, as do groups that treat people with AIDS and hepatitis.

WHO OPPOSES IT 

Numerous law enforcement groups argue that sanctioned injection sites will attract crime to the neighborhoods where they’re located. They also oppose a provision that says people who use the clinics cannot be prosecuted for using illegal drugs, and say the bill sets up an untenable conflict between state and federal law.

WHY IT MATTERS

San Francisco is among a handful of U.S. cities that want to try safe injection sites as a strategy to combat public drug use and spiking deaths from overdose, an approach already used in some Canadian and European cities. But the deputy US Attorney General recently said federal prosecutors will crack down “with swift and aggressive action” against any injection sites that may open.

GOVERNOR’S DECISION

Vetoed by Governor Brown on September 30, 2018.

From the governor’s veto message: “Fundamentally, I do not believe that enabling illegal drug use in government sponsored injection centers—with no corresponding requirement that the user undergo treatment—will reduce drug addiction.”

—Laurel Rosenhall

 

Forced Arbitration

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

AB 3080 would address mandatory arbitration agreements and non-disparagement clauses, two hiring practices that often prevent employees from speaking out about sexual harassment or taking employers to court for it. Authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a San Diego Democrat, the bill would make it illegal for an employer to take back a job offer or retaliate if an employee refused to waive his or her right to sue over a workplace violation. And it would prohibit non-disparagement clauses from silencing an employee in sexual harassment and discrimination cases.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

The California Labor Federation, Consumer Attorneys of California, the National Organization for Women and the ACLU of California are among the bill’s backers. It also was publicly supported by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who in 2016 filed a high profile sexual harassment lawsuit against her now-deceased boss, Roger Ailes.

WHO’S OPPOSED

The California Chamber of Commerce, California Hospital Association, and a host of business advocacy organizations strongly oppose the bill, saying it will discourage arbitration, which they argue is a less expensive and time-consuming way to resolve disputes.

WHY IT MATTERS

Victims of sexual harassment are often afraid to come forward, and when they do, they often find that their employment contracts legally prevent them from speaking out about or suing their employers. This bill is aimed both at that issue and at the broader employment practice of forcing workers to settle disputes in arbitration, where judges are more likely to side with employers, instead of in open court.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Vetoed by Governor Brown on September 30, 2018.

From the governor’s veto message: “Since this bill plainly violates federal law, I cannot sign this measure.”

—Antoinette Siu

Signed by Governor Brown


  1. 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  2. For-Profit Charter Schools
  3. Drinks in Kids' Meals
  4. Plastic Straws, by Request Only
  5. Wildfire Response
  6. 'Junk' Health Insurance
  7. Conservatorships for Mentally Ill Homeless People
  8. Secret Settlements
  9. Women on Corporate Boards
  10. Net Neutrality
  11. Police Accountability
  12. Rehab Centers

Vetoed by Governor Brown


  1. School Start Times
  2. Mental Health Counselors on Campus
  3. Bar Time: A Later Last Call
  4. Trump Tax Workarounds
  5. Abortion Pills at Campus Health Centers
  6. Drug Injection Sites
  7. Forced Arbitration

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