California Legislature beats deadline on key bills

Your guide to California policy and politics
Lynn La BY Lynn La June 2, 2023
Presented by Dairy Cares, Southern California Gas Company, Climate-Smart Agricultural Partnership and Politifest 2023

California Legislature beats deadline on key bills

Today’s the deadline for bills to pass their first house in the California Legislature.

The vast majority made it. A few failed. And a handful of intriguing bills that didn’t pass may resurface because their authors aren’t giving up. 

Police dogs: On Wednesday, a bill that would curb the use of police dogs failed to get enough votes. While Assembly Republicans celebrated, the bill’s author — Democratic Assemblymember Corey Jackson from Perris — said he will try again next year. In a statement to CalMatters, he said that he firmly believes “it is of utmost importance to properly regulate police K-9 units” and that the bill strikes “a balance between effective law enforcement practices and the safety of our communities.”

Social media addiction: Oakland Democratic Sen. Nancy Skinner put into the inactive file her bill that would ban social media companies such as Instagram and TikTok from showing users under age 16 content that could lead them to become addicted, develop eating disorders, inflict harm on themselves or others or purchase illegal guns and drugs. The bill not only faced opposition from the companies, but also potentially ran afoul with the First Amendment. A spokesperson from Skinner’s office said she is “still working on the issue.”

More floor vote drama: With 54 votes needed to pass through the Assembly, it looked as if AB 793 might die for this session. But after a lengthy search on Thursday, it drew the one “yes” vote to push it over the finish line and headed to the Senate.

As CalMatters’ health reporter Kristen Hwang explains, the bill would prohibit law enforcement from issuing “reverse search warrants” that compel tech companies to hand over information on individuals such as location data and internet search history. 

The bill is intended to protect those seeking abortion or gender affirming care. But law enforcement agencies and prosecutors said the measure may limit their ability to solve crimes.

  • Jeff Reisig, Yolo County District Attorney, in a statement:  “This bill goes vastly beyond that by banning one of the most effective methods of gathering crucial data necessary to help accurately identify perpetrators of every type of crime…”

A few other notable bills that passed and were sent to the other chamber before lawmakers went home for the weekend:

  • AB 252: Would require some universities to share sports revenue with student athletes.
  • AB 310: Would loosen work requirements for CalWorks, the state’s public assistance program.
  • AB 316: Would put limits on big, self-driving trucks, including requiring a trained “safety” driver. 
  • AB 518: Would extend paid family leave to LGBTQ+ members.
  • AB 659: Would make it state policy that K-12 and college students are expected to be vaccinated for the human papillomavirus.
  • AB 886: Would require social media companies to share advertising revenue with news publishers.
  • AB 938: Would increase funding for schools with high-needs students by 50% and tie that money directly towards raising school employee and teacher salaries.
  • AB 1394: Would enact civil penalties against social media companies if their platforms facilitated sex trafficking.
  • SB 616: Would increase paid sick leave from three to seven days.
  • SB 760: Would require all-gender restrooms in every school.

Youth journalism: CalMatters is ramping up its youth journalism initiative for high school students and educators. That includes an educator fellowship, with a workshop July 10-13 at CalMatters’ offices in Sacramento. Here’s an FAQ, and the application, with a June 12 priority deadline. Read more from our engagement team.


1 Top CA Dems caution against book bans

Students complete classwork at Stege Elementary School in Richmond on Feb. 6, 2023. Photo by Shelby Knowles for CalMatters
Students complete classwork at Stege Elementary School in Richmond on Feb. 6, 2023. Photo by Shelby Knowles for CalMatters

From CalMatters K-12 education reporter Joe Hong:

California’s governor, attorney general and superintendent of public instruction are making their case against schools banning books.

In a joint letter published Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta and schools chief Tony Thurmond warn local school districts and charter schools that the U.S. Constitution restricts banning educational materials solely on the grounds that they’re “controversial, unpopular, or offensive to some.” 

  • The letter: “Access to books — including books that reflect the diverse experiences and perspectives of Californians, and especially those that may challenge us to grapple with uncomfortable truths — is a profound freedom we all must protect and cultivate.”

They also argue that exposure to the diverse world views present in California and the nation are crucial for a high-quality education. In the first half of the 2022–23 school year, 1,477 books were banned nationally, with teachers and librarians threatened with prison time, according to the letter.

Incidents of book banning in California’s public schools have been relatively scarce, compared to other states such as Florida. PEN America, a free speech advocacy group tracking book bans in schools across the country, reported only one case in California during the 2022-23 school year: In September, the William S. Hart Union School District board in Santa Clarita voted to remove “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson from its high school library.

Newsom, Bonta and Thurmond’s letter also warns school districts and charter schools that their decisions to ban books might be reviewed by the attorney general’s office, and officials will be asked to provide documents, including policies and complaints. 

2 The appeal of apprenticeships

A PG&E lineman works to repair a power line in Paradise in 2018. Photo by Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo

More than a third of all public high school graduates in California don’t go on to college. With rising tuition costs, an average student debt of $37,000 and a tenuous job market, pursuing a higher education may not be a viable, or even attractive, option for some California residents.

One alternative is a paid apprenticeship. With more than 90,000 currently registered apprentices, the state is looking to expand that number to 500,000 in the next six years

As Andrea Madison of CalMatters’ College Journalism Network reports, the Department of Industrial Relations offers apprenticeship programs in various careers and trades, including construction, healthcare and transportation. Many of these programs are tied to labor unions.

Apprentices usually take courses at a union training center or a local community college while earning a percentage of the wages paid to full-time workers. As they gain more experience, their hourly wages increase. They eventually earn the full rate when they complete the program, which takes about one to five years. 

While college graduates typically earn more over a lifetime than those who only have a high school diploma, earning money right out of high school is a big draw for students interested in apprenticeships.

  • Doug Henderson, director at Val Verde Unified School District: “A lot of these union jobs, you can be making $150,000 a year pretty quickly if you work your way through.”

Have a question about California higher education? Fill out this form and it could be addressed in a future “Ask CJN.” We now have a Spanish version of the form.

3 Pride and controversy

Transgender and bisexual pride flags on the desk of Assemblymember Alex Lee, at the state Capitol in Sacramento on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters
Transgender and bisexual pride flags on the desk of Assemblymember Alex Lee at the state Capitol in Sacramento on Aug. 1, 2022. Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters

Pride Month started Thursday — but at the state Capitol, with more controversy than pride.

The disquiet centers around the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the satirical drag nuns who wear signature white makeup. They’re heroes to many in the LGBTQ community; they held some of the first fundraisers for AIDS organizations in the 1980s. But to Catholic leaders, the Sisters are hateful, mocking real nuns and ridiculing their faith.

The order made national headlines last month when the Los Angeles Dodgers announced they would honor the Sisters, took back the award after criticism from Catholic groups and reversed course again after more backlash.

Back to the Legislature, the most diverse ever with a record 12 openly LGBTQ members. The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus invited “Sister Roma” to the Monday ceremony for the Senate’s Pride Month resolution to honor the order’s charity and community service.

Thursday, Senate Republicans fired off a letter to Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego, urging her to rescind the invitation.

  • Senate GOP leader Brian Jones of El Cajon, in a statement: “By inviting a prominent leader of this hateful group, Senate Democrats have shown a blatant disregard for the 10 million Catholic Californians in our state. Were this group to spread hateful messages about Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or any other religion, Senate Democrats would certainly not extend this invitation.”  

Atkins, the first openly gay Senate leader, isn’t backing down. She called the letter a “misguided distraction” and said she was “extremely disappointed” in her Republican colleagues for “leaning into polarization.” The LGBTQ caucus is standing by the invitation as well, saying that the Sisters “have stood and fought with us when no one else would.”

Meanwhile, the California Catholic Conference plans a prayer vigil on the Capitol steps during the Senate session Monday.


CalMatters Commentary

Reader reaction: Attorney General Bonta should speed police cases before thinking of running for governor, writes Johanna Lopez, whose son Brandon Anthony Lopez was fatally shot by Anaheim police in 2021.


Other things worth your time

Some stories may require a subscription to read

Allstate has quietly stopped new home insurance policies in CA // San Francisco Chronicle

California tenant eviction protection, rent cap bill gutted // The Sacramento Bee

Former Dodger star Steve Garvey weighs run to replace Feinstein // Politico

Majority of Californians fear worsening weather swings // Los Angeles Times

California confronts the threat of ‘tranq’ as overdose crisis rages // California Healthline

Are zero-emission vehicles making a dent in California’s air pollution? // KQED

SF started taxing vacant storefronts, but only 74 have paid // San Francisco Chronicle

Times says LA County supervisors violated open-meeting law // Los Angeles Times

San Jose limiting public’s access to city records // San Jose Spotlight

Sacramento grand jury recommends new homeless authority // The Sacramento Bee

LA city attorney wins $5M from biggest US ghost gun maker // The Orange County Register

After historic flooding, Pajaro’s quest to rebuild // Mother Jones

What the latest numbers show about crime in LA, SF and Hollywood // Los Angeles Times

Bay Area layoffs top grim milestone after jobs cuts by Meta, others // The Mercury News

In CA’s heartland, a new resistance movement is taking root // The New York Times Magazine

See you next week


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