Remakes and fresh takes: See whether Gov. Newsom OK’d or vetoed key bills of 2019

The State Capitol in Sacramento, California, September 10, 2015.

Introduction

Gavin Newsom began his first year as California governor with surpluses of money in the budget ($21 billion) and Democrats in the Legislature (about 75%), a combination that helped him realize an ambitious agenda to expand public preschool, add a year of tuition-free community college for full-time students, offer health care to young adults who are undocumented, pass a tax to improve 911 emergency service and offer $1 billion in tax rebates to low-income Californians.

After finishing the budget in June, Newsom and lawmakers turned attention to hashing out deals on several contentious policy issues. They successfully reached compromises between warring interest groups on bills to limit when police can use deadly force, cap rent increases, regulate charter schools and help utilities manage their liability for wildfire damages.

Other conflicts could not be resolved, and lawmakers tabled proposals to limit teen vaping, regulate for-profit colleges, increase tax credits for renters and reduce consumption of soda and other sugary drinks.    

For many lawmakers, the dawn of the Newsom Administration is an opportunity to take another swing at a bill that failed in the past. Numerous measures advancing to Newsom’s desk amount to reruns of legislation vetoed by former Gov. Jerry Brown, including measures to make schools start later, require college health clinics to provide abortion pills and extend the length of time child sex abuse victims have to file lawsuits. 

Newsom signaled a willingness to break from his fellow Democrat in signing a bill to require presidential candidates release their tax returns to appear on California’s presidential primary ballot — a Trump-trolling measure that Brown vetoed two years ago.

Below are some of the most interesting remakes and fresh takes that now face the new governor. Keep checking back as we update this article throughout the bill-signing period that ends on Oct. 13.

Laurel Rosenhall and CalMatters staff

Contract Workers

Uber and Lyft drivers rally at the Capitol in 2014. Photo by Shawn Hubler for CALmatters

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Codifies the 2018 Dynamex decision by the California Supreme Court that makes it harder for gig workers, truckers and other industries to classify workers as independent contractors. The bill, AB 5, provides exemptions for a host of professional and specialized services from doctors to hairdressers.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

In a word: unions. The bill was sponsored by the California Labor Federation and backed by the Service Employees International Union, Teamsters, State Building & Construction Trades Council of California as well as Gig Workers Rising and Mobile Workers Alliance.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Gig employers such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have already contributed $90 million to a ballot measure in order to keep workers classified as contractors. The trucking industry and hospitals are also opposed.  

WHY IT MATTERS

California is the birthplace of the gig economy but it is also a state of growing wealth inequality. The bill is labor’s boldest effort to date to secure better wages, workplace standards and expand collective bargaining rights.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Newsom said he backed the bill, but also committed to continuing negotiations with California-based gig behemoths Uber and Lyft. He signed AB 5 Sept. 18, 2019, calling AB 5 “landmark legislation for workers and our economy,” but alluded to the federal obstacles to collective bargaining for gig workers, and called for “pathways for more workers to form a union” as a next step.

Student Athlete Compensation

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Under SB 206, college athletes could sign paid sponsorship deals and hire agents without being penalized by their schools or the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The bill contradicts current NCAA rules, though it doesn’t allow schools to pay athletes a salary. Community colleges are exempt.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

The National College Players Association, AFL-CIO and California Faculty Association support SB 206, which also drew endorsements from basketball players LeBron James and Draymond Green, and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Supporters call athlete compensation a civil rights issue, saying college players are being exploited and should be paid for the value they create. The bill is authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

The NCAA asked legislators to delay taking action until its own internal working group can address the issue, and then on Wednesday appealed directly to Newsom in a letter asking him to reject SB 206. The University of California, California State University and private colleges oppose the bill, fearing their teams could be shut out of NCAA championships.

WHY IT MATTERS

College sports are a multi-billion-dollar industry. SB 206 sets up a showdown between California and the NCAA — but with an effective date of 2023, there’s also time for the two sides to come to an agreement.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Though the NCAA called the bill “unconstitutional” and asked Newsom for time to voluntarily revise its own rules on compensation, Newsom signed the bill Sept. 27, 2019, on an episode of James’ talk show that aired the following Monday, “Colleges reap billions from student athletes but block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model,” Newsom tweeted. But in his signing statement, he added that he’d review the NCAA recommendations in October, that the law has a three-year implementation window, and that he will “work constructively with the Legislature” to address any “unintended consequences” that arise from the bill.

College Admissions

UCLA college admissions by exception

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

A response to the nationwide college admissions scandal, AB 1383 would require athletes and others admitted to public universities outside the normal admissions process to be approved by at least three administrators. Campuses would have to create clear rules for how they choose the exceptional admits, and anyone recruited to a sports team would have to play on that team for at least a year.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, the bill’s author, says it could help head off the kind of fraud allegedly perpetrated by wealthy families at the center of the Varsity Blues scandal. Parents are accused of paying bribes to falsify test scores and gain admittance for their children as athletic recruits, even though some lacked experience in the sport they supposedly played. Because the University of California is semi-independent from the state, it wouldn’t have to obey the new rules unless the university’s regents approve them — but an internal UC audit already has made similar recommendations. 

WHO’S OPPOSED?

There’s no official opposition on record. The bill has its limits, however: It wouldn’t apply to private colleges, California residents who receive school-based financial aid, or applicants who already meet a university’s minimum requirements for admission.

WHY IT MATTERS

University of California campuses can admit up to 6% of each incoming class from among students who don’t meet the university’s minimum standards. But the process, known as “admission by exception,” is shrouded in secrecy — and at least one campus exceeded the cap last year.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

With California colleges including UCLA at the epicenter of the Varsity Blues, and no vocal opposition, Newsom signed Oct. 4, 2019. The bill was part of a package that he said “strikes at the forces that keep the doors of opportunity closed to too many people in our state.”

11th Grade Tests

California school funding, school finance, LCFF, Local Control Funding Formula

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Allow school districts to administer a college entrance exam — likely the SAT — in place of the standardized tests that students currently take in 11th grade. 

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

The California School Boards Association and a number of local school districts. They, along with bill author Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, argue that the SAT is more meaningful to high-schoolers, and that offering it for free during the school day will allow more low-income students to take it.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Many advocacy organizations that focus on low-income students and students of color oppose AB 751, along with the California Community Colleges chancellor’s office, and student associations at the University of California and community colleges. They say the SAT is racially biased, exacerbates inequality and should be de-emphasized in college admissions. 

WHY IT MATTERS

Long Beach Unified School District already offers free, in-class SAT testing and says it has doubled the percentage of students who take the exam. It and dozens of other districts with similar policies could save money if the bill passes by administering one test instead of two. But the nationwide college admissions scandal, in which wealthy parents are accused of paying for falsified test results, has added fuel to a longstanding campaign for colleges to drop the SAT. A UC task force is currently considering changes to how the university uses the exam in admissions.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill O’Donnell authored last year. Newsom hasn’t hesitated to part company with Brown on education issues. But on Oct. 12, 2019, with the lingering stench of the Varsity Blues scandal, he, too, vetoed AB 751, citing concerns that the switch would create new hurdles for underrepresented students and remove a much-needed measure for recent K-12 school reforms.

Charter Schools

Teachers unions and charter school advocates are battling for the future of California's classrooms.

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

Months of behind-the-scenes negotiations between legislators and education interests led to the final version of AB 1505, which adds significant regulations to the state’s sector of independently operated, publicly funded charter schools. The bill gives local school boards much more discretion in approving new charters and allows districts in fiscal distress to consider financial impact, which hadn’t been previously allowed. All charter teachers in California also would be required to hold some sort of state credential and undergo a background check, and new online charter schools would be banned for two years.

WHO SUPPORTS IT? 

Education unions, including the California Teachers Association, support the bill by Long Beach Democratic Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell. Proponents, who also included State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, said its charter regulations are overdue and local school boards should have more power to decide how charters fit into their education needs. 

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Charter school advocates — including the California Charter Schools Association — fought the bill along each step in the legislative process, characterizing it as an existential threat to charters in California. But the association formally shifted to a “neutral” position on AB 1505 after the bill’s original, more restrictive version was softened to retain a pathway to appeals for denied charters, and additional protections were secured. Republicans in the Legislature remained opposed, as do some charter leaders and advocates.

WHY IT MATTERS 

The legislation marks the most significant revisions to the state’s charter school law since its 1992 inception and, at least for the moment, puts to rest a years-long, deep-pocketed and bruising legislative fight between charter advocates and unions over charter schools.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

The governor’s office helped broker the deal, and signed AB 1505 on Oct. 3, 2019.

Far-flung Charters

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

AB 1507 removes a loophole that enabled the controversial practice of school districts authorizing charter schools outside of their geographic boundaries. Under the proposal by Assemblywoman Christy Smith, a Santa Clarita Democrat, a charter school would be required to locate within the boundaries of the district that authorized it.

WHO SUPPORTS IT? 

Part of a package of charter school regulations introduced early in the session, it’s supported by teachers unions, the California Parent Teacher Association, the California School Boards Association and several local school districts. 

WHO’S OPPOSED?

The Charter Schools Development Center, a charter advocacy group, and numerous local charter schools have formally registered opposition.

WHY IT MATTERS 

Though charter schools have been a contentious issue at the Legislature for several years, this issue in particular has been a source of debate in California for nearly a decade. Districts are allowed to charge fees for oversight of the charters they authorize, and state auditors found that a handful of small, financially strapped districts had exploited the law to authorize numerous charters that were sometimes hundreds of miles away from their geographic boundaries and that drew enrollment from other districts. The Legislature had twice passed versions of AB 1507 that were vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown. 

GOVERNOR’S CALL  

The governor signed AB 1507 on Oct. 3, 2019, along with AB 1505, a separate charter regulation bill.

School Bond

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

AB 48 by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell and Sen. Steve Glazer, both Democrats, would put a $15 billion state facilities bond on the March 2020 ballot that would divvy up $9 billion for K-12 and preschools, and $2 billion apiece for community colleges and the state’s two public university systems: the California State University and University of California.

WHO SUPPORTS IT? 

The proposal, brokered at the 11th hour of this year’s legislative session, reflects a consensus among legislators, the governor’s Department of Finance and education interests that schools statewide urgently need to maintain and improve their facilities. Though California voters just passed a state bond in 2016, that $9 billion has already been earmarked or appropriated to schools.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

The proposal has no registered opposition.

WHY IT MATTERS 

In California, school facilities funding is heavily reliant on local school bonds, sowing inequities among public schools. AB 48 would add support for small districts, which have had difficulty passing bond measures. A larger share of the money would be earmarked for school modernization than in 2016, when the state bond equally emphasized renovations and new school construction despite declining enrollment. California’s crowded universities also face serious infrastructure challenges. In the UC system alone, leaky labs and classrooms that lack air conditioning add up to a $4 billion deferred maintenance backlog, and dozens of aging buildings are seismically unsafe, university studies have found.

GOVERNOR’S CALL   

Gov. Jerry Brown opposed the state bond that passed in 2016, which eventually made it on the ballot via referendum, but this administration has made education a signature issue. Newsom signed it Oct. 7, 2019.

Later School Start

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

SB 328 by Sen. Anthony Portantino, a Democrat from La Cañada Flintridge, would require that high schools in California start their school day no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and no earlier than 8 a.m. for the state’s middle schools. 

WHO SUPPORTS IT? 

The national advocacy group, Start School Later, the state PTA and physicians’ groups support the effort for later start times and have said it is a response to a public health crisis. The requirement, they say, would lead to less sleep-deprived students and improved student achievement.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

The California School Boards Association, the statewide advocacy group for school boards, and various local districts oppose it. They characterize the proposal as a one-size-fits-all approach that ought to be decided by local school boards. 

WHY IT MATTERS 

The bill is a repeat from last year. That version of SB 328 passed the Legislature by one vote in the waning days of the session before Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it.

GOVERNOR’S CALL  

Though a prior version of SB 328 narrowly cleared the Legislature last year, the school boards association blasted ads lobbying Brown to veto the bill, appealing to his penchant for local control. Brown complied. Newsom? Not so much. In one of his last acts of the legislative year, he signed, making California the first state in the nation to push back school start times. The new law won’t apply to “zero periods” or rural school districts, and schools have until the beginning of the 2022-23 school year or the end of current collective bargaining agreement, whichever is later, to phase it in.

Vaccine Exemptions

photo illustration of a child receiving a shot

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

SB 276 could make it harder for parents to avoid vaccinating their children against serious contagious diseases. The bill changes how doctors provide exemptions that allow unvaccinated children to enter school, gives final say to a local public health official instead of a physician, and creates a process for investigating doctors with five or more exemptions and schools with less than 95% vaccine compliance.

 WHO SUPPORTS IT? 

Intended to crack down on physicians issuing bogus medical waivers and stop the rise of exemptions across California, the bill was backed by prominent physician groups including the California Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, California and a vocal parent group called Vaccinate California. It’s authored by Democratic Sen. Richard Pan of Sacramento.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Critics objected to state involvement in the doctor-patient relationship and to final authority resting with an official who is not the child’s physician. They also say the new directives may inhibit doctors from writing exemptions even for kids who need them. Protesters temporarily shut down a committee hearing and the Legislature’s floor sessions with cries of “My child, my choice” and “You’re killing our children.” Opponents include Advocates for Physicians’ Rights.

WHY IT MATTERS

At the state’s last count, about 4,800 California kindergartners had permanent medical exemptions, out of about a half-million students in that grade. But certain parts of the state have higher clusters of unvaccinated kids, potentially putting at risk those who cannot be vaccinated, such as infants and those with compromised immune systems.

GOVERNOR’S CALL  

Newsom signed the bill Sept. 9, 2019 — not that the process was without controversy. Twice he pushed to alter the legislation, first with amendments that weakened it, and later with a companion bill.

Fertility Procedures

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 600 spells out that health insurance companies must cover certain fertility procedures for patients with medical diagnoses that indicate treatment such as chemotherapy could damage their fertility. The procedures include egg and sperm freezing, in vitro fertilization and the freezing of embryos. This bill does not apply to the one-third of Californians enrolled in the Medi-Cal program for low-income residents.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

Democratic state Sen. Anthony Portantino is behind the bill. He argues that the state already has regulations in place that make fertility preservation in those circumstances part of essential health care benefits — but insurers are not following it. Proponents of the measure argue that this is a basic health care right and those diagnosed with a condition like cancer should not have to scramble to pay for the costly procedures out of pocket or forgo their future fertility.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Health insurers object, noting that existing law does not specify these types of fertility-preservation procedures as essential services all insurers must cover. The state Department of Managed Health Care, which oversees health plans in California, has determined otherwise, but insurers say that determination does not follow current law. Portantino wants his bill to settle the dispute.

WHY IT MATTERS

This bill could open the door for future legislation to require broader coverage of fertility and infertility services.

GOVERNOR’S CALL 

The state is in a legal battle with Kaiser Permanente over coverage of fertility-preservation procedures. The governor signed the bill Oct. 12, 2019.

Maternal Health Bias

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Sen. Holly Mitchell’s SB 464 would require implicit bias training for doctors and nurses treating pregnant women, to improve awareness of the impact racial bias has on maternal and infant health. The bill would also require maternal deaths to be registered more consistently on death certificates.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

SB 464 is co-sponsored by ACT for Women and Girls, Black Women for Wellness and the Western Center on Law & Poverty, among others. It also is supported by the influential California Hospital Association, nurses, midwives and MomsRising, a multicultural organization with more than 1 million members.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

The bill has no formal opposition, but doctors have raised concerns about implementation of the training.  

WHY IT MATTERS

Although California is often looked to as an example for improving maternal outcomes, black women statewide are still substantially more likely than white women to die in childbirth, give birth prematurely and lose their babies. Studies consistently point to one underlying factor in this health gap: racial bias in perinatal care.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Besides budgeting additional state funding to track black maternal and infant health, Newsom signed this bill on Oct. 7, 2019.

Campus Abortion Pills

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 24 would require CSU and UC campuses to provide the abortion pill at student health centers, private funding permitting. A similar version was approved by the Legislature last year but former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it, noting that since “services required by this bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary.” Implementation depends on nearly $10.3 million  in private funding, which the TARA Health Foundation and the Women’s Foundation of California say they have secured. Each campus gets $200,000 to start offering the service, and is not required to use general fund money or student fees to maintain it once initial funding runs out.   

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

The bill is authored by state Sen. Connie Leyva, a Chino Democrat. It’s supported by the ACLU of California, the California Faculty Association and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. Supporters argue that while off-campus services are available, students without cars experience hardship because of lengthy bus rides or expensive car service fares. They also say that clinics are typically closed on weekends, which forces students to miss class or work to get the pill.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Opponents include the California Catholic Conference and the California Family Council. They argue public campuses are located close enough to abortion clinics and having an abortion via the pill can be a traumatic experience.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

The governor signed a proclamation on reproductive freedom earlier this year underscoring women’s right to choose. On Oct. 11, 2019, he signed the bill, saying that “as other states and the federal government go backward, restricting reproductive freedom, in California we are moving forward, expanding access and reaffirming a woman’s right choose.” 

Dialysis

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

AB 290 aims to crack down on a dialysis-industry practice: signing patients who would qualify for Medicare with a company that will pay their premiums for private insurance instead, because those insurers pay more for dialysis than the government-run program. The “third-party” companies are nonprofits that receive a significant amount of funding from dialysis providers. The bill would allow patients already in these arrangements to continue but would bar dialysis companies from steering people to third-party payers in the future. It wouldn’t go into effect until 2022.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

Assemblyman Jim Wood, the bill’s author, calls third-party arrangements a “scam” by dialysis companies that have figured out a way to get inflated reimbursement rates. Health Access California and the California Labor Federation also support the bill.

WHO’S OPPOSED? 

Dialysis companies DaVita and Fresenius, the nation’s two largest providers, spent nearly $1 million this year lobbying on this and other health issues in Sacramento. Opponents were successful in having the bill amended to push the start date to 2022 and to “grandfather” in those already enrolled with third-party payers.

WHY IT MATTERS

There have been several efforts in recent years to regulate the deep-pocketed dialysis industry. If this bill becomes law, it’s possible that more regulations could be imposed on the industry in the future.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

It wasn’t clear whether the governor would sign this measure, which was amended 52 times. Former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill last year. But on Oct. 13, 2019, Newsom signed it, “consistent with our imperative to address rising health care costs,” urging all sides to “put patients first.”

Local Control Over New Housing

Aerial shot of neighborhood.

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 330 would limit many tools developers say local governments artfully deploy to prevent new housing from getting built. Dubbed the “Housing Crisis Act of 2019”, the bill temporarily bans cities from imposing a moratorium on new housing construction, prohibits “downzoning” (changing zoning law to outlaw denser housing like apartment buildings), and prevents cities from raising fees during the development approval process. Intended to stop cities from wiggling out of their state-mandated housing goals, it will be in effect for five years unless re-authorized by the Legislature.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

A coalition of developers, tech companies and affordable housing and environmental advocates who argue that California’s severe housing shortage is partly to blame on “not-in-my-backyard” cities obstructing new housing. Backers include the California Building Industry Association (the statewide developer interest group), the State Building & Construction Trades Council (unionized construction workers), California YIMBY (“Yes in my Backyard”), Facebook and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The bill’s author is Berkeley Democratic Sen. Nancy Skinner.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Cities — especially wealthier, suburban ones like Pasadena in Southern California and Mountain View in the Bay Area — chafe against state incursions into what housing gets built where in their communities. The League of California Cities fears that locking in fees early in the development approval process would saddle them with the costs of sewers, parks and other infrastructure for new housing. Also opposed: the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that poured millions into a failed 2017 moratorium on denser housing in L.A.

WHY IT MATTERS

Cities are in a protracted war with the state over who should control housing decisions. Gov. Newsom ambitiously promised to create 3.5 million new housing units by 2025, and pro-development advocates argue that will mean forcing cities to approve more housing more quickly. A more aggressive approach to forcing cities to allow more housing — SB 50 by Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco–was shelved earlier this year.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

While Newsom kept his distance from Wiener’s bill, he publicly endorsed SB 330. He signed it in Los Angeles on Oct. 9, 2019.

Caps On Rent Hikes

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 
AB 1482 would limit how much landlords can increase rents annually to 5% plus inflation. It would also force landlords to give a “just cause” before evicting tenants (right now landlords in California technically don’t need a reason to remove renters from their property). Not quite conventional rent control, the measure exempts units built within the last 15 years and most single-family home rentals. 

WHO SUPPORTS IT? 
Local tenant unions, organized labor, Gov. Gavin Newsom and even pro-business groups like the California Business Roundtable. While not technically in support, the primary advocacy groups for California landlords and developers signed off on the bill after extracting compromises.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Some moderate Democrats and Republicans voted against the measure, out of fear it would crimp new housing supply — or out of fear of the California Association of Realtors, a major campaign donor. The Realtors are piqued that Democrats reneged on an earlier rent-cap deal.

WHY IT MATTERS

It would give California arguably the strongest statewide renter protections in the country. Rents have soared over the past half decade in many major California cities. It’s also a political victory for Newsom, who said early in his administration he wanted more protection for renters.

GOVERNOR’S CALL 

Amid scattered reports of landlords rushing to evict tenants ahead of the new law, Newsom — flanked by progressive lawmakers — signed AB 1482 on Oct. 8, 2019, in Oakland. It will take effect January 1.

Redevelopment Resuscitation

Photo by CBS Napa via Creative Commons

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

Remember “redevelopment,” the state program that allowed local governments to set aside property taxes to fund housing and other development before it was killed in the state budget crunch of 2011? This year’s SB 5 has been dubbed “redevelopment 2.0,” which is accurate to a point. San Jose Democrat Sen. Jim Beall’s bill would allow local governments to set aside a portion of property taxes that would otherwise go to public schools and use to fund affordable housing, transit-oriented development and infill projects. To gain this new financial tool, locals would have to apply to a new state board, whose approvals would be limited to $200 million per year.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

More money for housing wins lots of allies: affordable housing developers, labor unions, local governments and business groups.

WHO’S OPPOSED? 

Taking money away from schools buys a lot of enemies: the state’s school administrators, teacher unions and school boards. Also the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which generally opposes anything that smells of higher taxes, especially on property.

WHY IT MATTERS

Affordable housing developers point to the demise of redevelopment as one cause of California’s current housing crisis. Beall’s bill doesn’t quite bring back the old program, but it’s a step in that direction — with a few more guard rails in place. 

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Newsom is under pressure to go big on housing, but he has always been lukewarm on redevelopment. While many of his 2018 gubernatorial opponents championed resuscitation of the old program, he said he favored narrow programs that already exist. It may not have helped that signing the bill would have crossed the California Teachers Association, a political ally. In any case, Newsom vetoed SB 5 on Oct. 13, 2019, writing in a veto message that, while he plans to continue working on housing, the $2 billion annual fiscal impact of this bill was too big to authorize outside the budget process.

Housing Discrimination

Real estate market ad in the newspaper

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Current law prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants for  reasons such as race, disability and source of income. SB 329 would expand the definition of “source of income” to ban landlords from discriminating against people who receive federal Section 8 housing vouchers.  

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

Affordable housing advocates, public interest law organizations and several cities and counties that have already passed similar bans back the measure by Senator Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat They say the bill will make the Section 8 program a more effective tool against the state’s affordable housing crisis.

WHO’S OPPOSED? 

Most major apartment, realtor and housing associations argue that landlords are justified in rejecting Section 8 tenants because of the red-tape involved in working with housing agencies, which can cause costly vacancies. Among the opposition: the California Apartment Association and the California Association of Realtors.

WHY IT MATTERS

Low-income Californians often wait for years to qualify for Section 8 vouchers.  If and when they do, they face a severe shortage of rental units that accept the housing assistance. The legislation wouldn’t bar landlords from denying Section 8 tenants for standard reasons, such as poor credit or rental history, but it would prohibit blanket rejections. If Newsom signs the bill, the multitude of rental ads that say “No Section 8” would become illegal overnight. A dozen other states have passed similar bans.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Newsom signed SB 329 on Oct. 8, 2019, as part of a package of tenant bills he described as the “strongest renter protections in the country.”

Police Training

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

A companion to the more high-profile bill Newsom signed in August that limits when police can use deadly force, Senate Bill 230 focuses on officer training. It establishes training programs on the new deadly force standard, and requires that basic training include lessons on de-escalation tactics, as well as awareness of mental illness, bias and cultural competency. It also requires law enforcement agencies to adopt policies that say officers must de-escalate situations when feasible, only use force proportional to the situation and intervene if they see other officers using excessive force.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

The bill by Sen. Anna Caballero, a Salinas Democrat, is backed by the California Police Chiefs Association and several other law enforcement groups, which tout it as setting a national precedent by requiring consistent policies and mandatory training standards across all law enforcement agencies in the state. They originally proposed a different version of SB 230 as a rival to the bill to limit the use of deadly force, but lawmakers tailored the two bills to compliment each other.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups say SB 230 could undermine the goal of limiting deadly force that’s contained in the recently signed law, which they supported, by giving officers too much leeway in deciding whether to de-escalate a situation. The League of Women Voters calls SB 230 “toothless” because it does not include an enforcement mechanism to ensure that agencies follow the standards and guidelines it sets. 

WHY IT MATTERS

California police shoot and kill someone every two to three days, a rate that’s higher than the national average. Emotional debate over how to reduce the number of shootings without putting officers in greater danger has consumed the statehouse for much of the last year and a half. SB 230 represents law enforcement’s solution to that dilemma.

GOVERNOR’S CALL 

Signed Sept. 12, 2019, in a private ceremony in the governor’s office after passing the Legislature with unanimous bipartisan support.

Private Prisons

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Prisoner hands on jail bars

AB 32 would end the state’s use of private, for-profit prisons and immigration detention facilities. The bill by Oakland Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a Democrat, would prohibit the state from entering into new such contracts or renewing old ones starting Jan.1. These facilities would then have until 2028 to shut down. 

WHO SUPPORTS IT? 

An unlikely alliance of civil liberties and immigration-rights groups, progressive activists and the union of guards in state-run prisons.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

The state’s sheriffs, who fear that nixing private prisons might force the state to release more inmates early or offload them onto county jails.

WHY IT MATTERS 

Though the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has said it plans to gradually phase out use of private facilities, it maintains contracts with four — all of which are operated by the publicly traded corporation GEO Group. Private immigration facilities have long been in the crosshairs of liberal lawmakers. In 2017, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill placing a moratorium on new contracts between local governments and privately run jails.

GOVERNOR’S CALL 

In his inaugural address, Gov. Newsom vowed to “end the outrage of private prisons once and for all.”  On Oct. 11, 2019, he signed the legislation, saying that “these for-profit prisons do not reflect our values.”

‘Deep Fake’ Ban

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

AB 730 would ban the distribution of doctored video, audio or photos of a candidate for office within 60 days of an election unless it is clearly labeled as a fake. This includes high-tech “deep fake” videos, in which the face of one person is digitally grafted onto the face of someone else — but also old-fashioned forgeries. It would also put a blanket prohibition on political campaigns putting out that kind of misleading media in ads and mail. An exemption exists fror satire and parody.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

Silicon Valley Community Foundation is one of two official supporters. The other is UC Berkeley Law School dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a valuable ally for the bill whose endorsement has helped blunt the critique that the measure violates the First Amendment.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

The American Civil Liberties Union and trade groups for the state’s newspapers and TV stations.

WHY IT MATTERS

Technological developments make it increasingly difficult to sort fake from real news, which presents a particular concern related to elections. Still, it’s unclear how much policymakers can do to limit fake speech without infringing on core constitutional rights.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Whether the bill is constitutional is an entirely unsettled question, but Newsom signed it on Oct. 3, 2019.

Stronger Red Flag Laws

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

Phil Ting’s AB 61 would give coworkers, teachers and school staff the right to ask a judge to order the firearms removed from someone if they are believed to be a threat to themselves or others. The removal period can last up to 21 days before the subject of the order is given an opportunity to appeal the decision. Currently, only immediate family members and law enforcement officers have that power.

WHO SUPPORTS IT? 

A coalition of gun-control advocacy groups, state and local law enforcement agencies and public health groups.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Predictably, gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association. Less predictably, the American Civil Liberties Union.

WHY IT MATTERS 

California was the first state to introduce a so-called red flag law in 2014. Five years (and countless mass shootings later) 16 states have followed suit. In the wake of massacres in El Paso, Dayton and Gilroy, President Trump himself has suggested he would be open to a national red flag law.

GOVERNOR’S CALL  

Newsom has made his support for tougher gun laws (and his opposition to the gun rights lobby) one of his calling cards. He signed this legislation Oct. 11, 2019, along with a package of gun control bills.

Ghost Guns

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

AB 879 by Assemblyman Mike Gipson would allow only licensed firearm dealers to sell “unfinished” gun receivers, which, with a little machining, can be assembled into untraceable “ghost guns.” The new regulations would not go into effect until the summer of 2024.

WHO SUPPORTS IT? 

Gun control advocates and violence intervention groups, plus the California Department of Justice and both the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the District Attorney’s office.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Virtually every major gun rights group in the state, including the California Rifle and Pistol Association, the Gun Owners of California and the California Sportsman’s Lobby.

WHY IT MATTERS 

Last year Gipson introduced a bill that would have effectively treated unfinished receivers as if they were functioning firearms. The bill was passed by both chambers, but vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown who called the proposal “unduly vague” and warned of “far reaching and unintended consequences.” Now Brown is gone and this year’s version is a bit narrower in scope. 

GOVERNOR’S CALL  

Newsom signed the bill Oct. 11, 2019, as part of a package of gun control legislation, two months after a California Highway Patrol officer was killed by a home-assembled rifle in Riverside.

Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits

California political independent lawsuit theme image

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Assembly Bill 218 would extend the time people have to file lawsuits over sexual abuse they suffered as children. Current law allows victims to sue until age 26; under this bill they would have until age 40. 

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

Associations representing abuse victims, police chiefs, social workers and trial lawyers back the measure by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a San Diego Democrat. 

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Schools that could face more lawsuits alleging abuse by their employees oppose the measure, along with insurance companies that could be required to pay out damages. Registered opponents of the bill include associations representing school boards, school business officials, private schools, community colleges and school insurance providers. 

WHY IT MATTERS

The bill marks the third time that the Legislature has tried to extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse. Former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar bills last year and in 2013, writing an unusually long veto message that traced the origins of such limits to ancient Roman law. But a powerful cultural shift is underway, as Americans respond to allegations of sexual abuse in vaunted institutions. The national gymnastics team doctor, a gynecologist at the University of Southern California and numerous Catholic priests are among those who have faced recent criminal charges. That may prompt a different decision by Newsom. 

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Newsom, who as lieutenant governor was said to support the version Gonzalez carried last year, signed it Oct. 13, 2019.

Domestic Violence

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 273 by Sen. Susan Rubio would extend the statute of limitations on domestic violence abuse to five years. It would also make changes to officer training for domestic violence cases.  

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

The California Protective Parents Association, Crime Victims United of California and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. To move the bill forward, Rubio had to narrow the proposed extension for the statute of limitations from its initial 20 years to five.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

The California Public Defenders Association and American Civil Liberties Union of California. The Public Defenders Association said extending the statute of limitations could threaten defendants’ rights and weaken the incentive to have swift investigations. They also argued that these resources could be better spent on rehabilitation and public education.

WHY IT MATTERS

Rubio said the goal for this bill is to give survivors more time to deal with their personal struggles and gain the courage to come forward. In 2016, she obtained a restraining order against her then-husband alleging physical abuse.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Newsom signed the bill into law Oct. 7, 2019.

Environmental ‘Trump Insurance’

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

California's Central Valley Water Project. Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Senate leader Toni Atkins made SB 1 her signature legislation this year, with its  broad scope and serious implications. It would require that state agencies broadly adopt laws that existed at the end of the Obama administration as California’s minimum standards for the protection of air, water, endangered species and workplace safety. It’s a failsafe to protect the state should the Trump administration continue its environmental-deregulation agenda. At its core, however, the legislation is about water. 

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Dozens of environmental and conservation groups have been pushing for the bill, portraying it as a bright line that shows who stands with California and its environmental goals, and who is in league with Donald Trump.

WHO’S OPPOSED

An equally broad group of business and commercial water interests, along with powerful  agricultural concerns, say the measure would thwart negotiations already underway to resolve longstanding disputes about water supplies from Northern California for farms and cities in the south.

WHY IT MATTERS

The state is managing flows from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, to balance those draws against water quality and an adequate habitat for threatened and endangered fish species. The federal water project in the Central Valley may not adhere to the same rules if the Trump administration rolls back endangered-species protections.  

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Caught between powerful interests and courting the conservative Central Valley (and SoCal cities that also rely on Delta water) Newsom tried and failed prior to the bill’s passage to remove the endangered-species provisions. Afterward, he signaled he’d veto the bill. On Sept. 27, 2019, he followed through, writing in a veto message: “I disagree about the efficacy and necessity of Senate Bill 1.” Environmentalists accused him of capitulation to Trump and Atkins tweeted her disappointment while farmers and Republicans cheered.

Oil Drilling

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

AB 342 by Al Muratsuchi would bar state agencies from allowing pipelines or other development that supports oil and gas production to cross state land, if those projects are near national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and other specially protected places.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

A long list of environmental and conservation groups signed on in support of this bill, in part because of threats from the Trump administration to allow oil and gas drilling in and around protected federal land that had been closed to energy development.

WHO OPPOSED?

The bill had no formal opposition.

WHY IT MATTERS

The state has already prohibited similar oil infrastructure from being constructed to bring crude onshore from drilling platforms in federal waters off the state’s coast. This bill mirrors that one, which makes it more difficult and expensive to produce oil in California.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Newsom opposes new offshore drilling. On Oct. 12, 2019, he signed AB 342 as part of a package of environmental legislation to “enhance safety of existing oil wells, refocus the state’s geologic energy division to better consider public health and fight against the Trump administration’s efforts to expand oil extraction in California.” 

Wildfire Outages

Photo of fire snaking along hillside

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Sen. Bill Dodd’s SB 167 would require electrical utilities to prepare wildfire mitigation plans that include how to provide backup power for low-income and medically compromised people during temporary power shutoffs.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

The state fire chiefs and the California Association of Counties supported the bill as a prudent backstop for vulnerable populations.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

The bill had no formal opposition.

WHY IT MATTERS

Utilities may cut off power in areas where there is acute fire danger. This measure would provide access to power during emergency outages for those who rely on life-support machines and other medical equipment.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Newsom has made wildfire issues a priority. As expected, he signed this bill on Oct. 2, 2019.

Smog Checks for Big Rigs

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Sen. Connie Leyva’s SB 210 would require state agencies to develop and implement a program for inspection and maintenance of heavy-duty trucks, including out-of-state diesel rigs. The state’s current smog-check program does not apply to heavy-duty big rigs.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Environmental groups and public health advocates have been clamoring for this bill for years, citing research attributing adverse health effects to air pollution from big diesel engines.

WHO’S OPPOSED

The California Chamber of Commerce, the California Farm Bureau Federation and small truck companies complain that the cost to comply with the legislation would be prohibitive and could cause some little guys to go out of business.

WHY IT MATTERS

With more than 40% of greenhouse gases spewing from tailpipes across California’s transportation sector, the state has set its sights on reducing diesel emissions. Leyva claims her inspection program would, over 10 years, reduce pollution enough to equal the removal of 375,000 big diesel trucks from the roads.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

The governor, who has made public health a major focus, signed the bill Sept. 20, 2019, as part of a package of climate measures calling it “the first ‘smog check’ program of its kind in the nation.” 

Recycling Crisis

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

AB 792 by San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting requires manufacturers to make plastic beverage bottles with increasing amounts of recycled plastic, reaching an average of 50% by 2030. 

WHO SUPPORTS IT? 

Environmental groups, and a few recycling companies, and CarbonLite Industries, a processor of post-consumer beverage bottles, have all supported the bill. The penalties, however, became less aggressive as the bill moved through the Legislature. While the bill ultimately didn’t lose support from the advocacy group Californians Against Waste, the organization’s executive director Mark Murray was disappointed by the changes. 

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Initially, the beverage industry, but they backed off once penalties were weakened. Nestle Waters North America dropped its opposition and became a supporter. And the American Beverage Association, a heavy hitter, shifted from oppose to neutral. 

WHY IT MATTERS 

As tiny plastics fragments rain down in the Rocky Mountains and drift through the depths of Monterey Bay, recyclers across California are struggling to cope with turmoil in their markets. Ting’s bill — the only one of three major single-use plastic bills to pass this year — aims to stem that flow of new, disposable plastic bottles. 

GOVERNOR’S CALL  

On World Oceans Day in June, Newsom posted on Facebook that plastic pollution is “hurting our ecosystems and our planet for generations to come.” But he vetoed this bill on Oct. 12, 2019, citing burdensome late amendments that would have forced the state to show manufacturers that their products could meet recycling goals.

Limits On Loan Interest

With California’s primary just days away, here’s a sampling of some of the players spending big to influence your vote:

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

AB 539 would place a maximum interest rate of roughly 38% on consumer loans between $2,500 and $9,999. It also would restrict the duration of these loans to between one and five years. 

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

Consumer protection advocates and anti-poverty activists, faith groups, some of the state’s largest unions, a number of municipal governments including Los Angeles and the state Department of Justice. They argue that loans with interest rates higher than 100% are exploitative. 

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Consumer lenders who are active in the high-cost share of the market, a number of tribal governments and the state’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. They argue that outlawing high-cost loans will push desperate borrowers toward even less favorable alternatives.

WHY IT MATTERS

With payday lenders facing increased state and federal regulatory scrutiny, lenders have raced into the market for slightly larger loans that are not subject to rate caps. Between 2009 and 2017, loans between $2,500 and under $10,000 with rates of more than 100% have surged from 4% of the non-bank consumer lending market to nearly a third.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Newsom signed AB 539 on Oct. 10, 2019, saying that “many Californians living paycheck to paycheck are exploited by predatory lending practices,” and that “this industry must be held to account.”

Fur Ban

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

AB 44 would ban the sale of new fur products such as coats, shoes, and accessories in California. Similar bans already exist in West Hollywood and San Francisco. The bill doesn’t apply to used items — family heirlooms, for instance, or fur used for religious reasons. Shearling and leather are also exempt. It would be the nation’s first statewide ban.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

The Humane Society of the United States is a sponsor of the bill. Major retailers including J. Crew, Gap, and H&M also support it and say it’s time to end inhumane fashion trends. Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, a Glendale Democrat and the bill’s author, has said the bill models the values of Californians, who last year passed a ballot measure to ensure that egg-laying hens and certain other farm animals have larger cages.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

The Fur Information Council of America objects to the bill along with independent furriers, who call it a government overreach that would put them out of business. When San Francisco enacted its fur ban, one furrier moved to Texas and opened shop there, and opponents say more California businesses will follow suit if AB 44 passes. They also predict legal challenges to the bill. 

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Earlier this year, Newsom told a class of second graders that he’d once owned a pet otter. He also signed a bill banning fur trapping in California, with his office tweeting that it would bring the state “one step closer to a #CaliforniaFurAll.” On Oct. 12, 2019, he signed AB 44, stating: “California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare and today that leadership includes banning the sale of fur.”  

Pension Overpayments

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Senior Couple From Behind Looking at Front of House.

SB 266 would require cities and local governments to cover the cost of pension overpayments rather than reduce the pensions of retired public employees. Under current law, when the California Public Employees’ Retirement System finds mistakes, the retiree loses the difference and can be responsible for paying back up to three years’ worth of overpayments.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

Public employee unions such as the California Professional Firefighters. Labor representatives say retirees living on fixed incomes should be held blameless for those mistakes.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

Some local governments and the League of California Cities. The league notes taxpayers would be on the hook for these overpayments at a time when cities and local agencies are struggling to meet their pension obligations.

WHY IT MATTERS

Former Gov. Jerry Brown championed a set of pension benefit restrictions to help tame massive unfunded liabilities. He vetoed a similar bill by Sen. Connie Leyva last year, fearing it could enable workers to inflate their pay in the final years of employment, which would help inflate their retirement checks.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

This bill passed the Legislature, but its author put a hold on it just before the legislative recess, saying she plans to keep working on it when state lawmakers return in the fall. Gov. Gavin Newsom has not commented on the bill, but the maneuver suggests he may have had a problem with it. In any case, for now, it remains a question mark.

And Don’t Forget…

ROADKILL

SB 395 would give three lucky California communities the legal right to harvest recently deceased critters from the side of the road for dinner. Rural advocates inspired Sen. Bob Archuleta, a Democrat from urban Pico Rivera, to let adventurous citizens supplement their food budget with road kill and help gather data on dangerous wild animal crossings at the same time. A prior version of the bill, which only applies to deer, elk and wild pig, would have been statewide, but was reduced to a seven-year pilot program in the Assembly. Supported by hunting and environmental groups and opposed only by the squeamish, the bill was signed by Newsom Oct. 13, 2019.

TINY TOILETRIES

AB 1162 would ban miniature bottles of shampoo, shower gel and other personal care products in hotel and other “lodging establishment” bathrooms, making them available only upon request. It would take effect in 2023 for places with more than 50 rooms and the next year for those with 50 or less. The bill is supported by environmental advocates seeking to curb the proliferation of single-use plastic  and authored by San Jose Democratic Assemblyman Ash Kalra. Opponents such as the Personal Products Care Council say it’s bad for business, and has the fragrance of the nanny state.  Newsom signed it Oct. 9, 2019.

CROOKEDEST STREET FEE

AB 1605 would help control the crowded and crooked Lombard Street in San Francisco by creating a pilot program that allows the city to impose a reservation and fee to visit the tourist site. The bill is sponsored by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat. The city, which would control  implementation, says it might quell congestion. The bill had no known opposition, but Newsom vetoed it Oct. 12, 2019, citing “social equity issues” created by the price.

BEACH BUTTS 

AB 1718/SB 8, a one-two punch by Assemblyman Marc Levine and Senator Steven Glazer, is the Legislature’s fourth attempt to ban smoking in state beaches and state parks. The bills are supported by Sierra Club California and the California State Park Foundation and face opposition by at least one individual. Current law already restricts smoking in state parks, and littering a state beach is an infraction, and Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed past iterations of this notion. “If people can’t smoke even on a deserted beach, where can they?” he wrote in one veto message, adding: “There must be some limits to the coercive power of government.” Sorry, smokers: On Oct. 11, 2019, Newsom vetoed the Assembly measure — because he signed the Senate ban.