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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Do-or-die week wraps for bills in California Legislature

Golden State lawmakers had until Friday to pass bills out of their house of origin.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — After spending the past few days in a rush to meet a crucial end-of-week deadline, California lawmakers eased into the holiday weekend with hundreds of bills advanced.

Bills had to pass out of their house of origin by Friday to stay alive. Both the Assembly and Senate held marathon sessions each day starting Monday, voting on hundreds of bills before the gavel fell Friday.

Assembly leadership, anxious to keep on schedule, expressed frustration at times when a quorum failed to appear each morning.

“Thank you to the 18 members today of the on-time caucus,” quipped Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Jim Wood, a Healdsburg Democrat, on Wednesday. Forty-one members are needed for a quorum.

The Senate and Assembly had packed schedules throughout the week — passing legislation on campus protests, book bans and voter ID — in anticipation of holding quick Friday sessions, which both achieved.

Before adjourning for the weekend, the Assembly passed Assembly Bill 2319 — introduced by Democratic Assemblymembers Lori Wilson, of Suisun City, and Akilah Weber, of San Diego. The bill would require certain health care providers to take implicit bias training.

According to Wilson, the bill will ensure the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act, in effect since 2020, is enforced.

“AB 2319 accomplishes this goal,” Wilson said.

A 2023 study stated that women of color, and specifically Black women, die from pregnancy-related issues at higher rates than white women in California. Evidence points to implicit bias as being a possible reason, Assembly staff stated in a bill analysis.

The Senate on Friday passed Senate Bill 1031, introduced by Democratic state Senators Scott Wiener of San Francisco and Aisha Wahab of Hayward.  

The bill gives the Metropolitan Transportation Commission the power to propose new taxes and issue bonds for transportation programs. It also requires the California State Transportation Agency to consider consolidating transit agencies in the Bay Area.

The legislation received some pushback from senators outside the Bay Area.

State Senator Anna Caballero, a Merced Democrat, said an influx of Bay Area residents moving into her district has been good, as they bring higher-than-average incomes with them. However, the additional people have been “hell” on the roads.

State Senator Brian Dahle, a Bieber Republican, invoked the state’s high-speed rail project, saying $100 billion has been spent on a “train to nowhere.” Now Bay Area lawmakers want to raise more funds for that area’s transit. He suggested taking the rail money and using it on other projects.

“We have the power to do that in this body and we should,” he said.  

Friday’s spirited back-and-forth came in the wake of a Thursday debate over Senate Bill 1414, written by state Senator Shannon Grove, a Bakersfield Republican. That bill would increase punishment for a person convicted of soliciting a sex act from someone younger than 16.

Grove said her bill was watered down in committee, as it no longer affects someone if they’re soliciting a 16- or 17-year-old.

State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, a Stockton Democrat, vociferously supported the bill.

“We have given away enough on this area,” she said, her voice choked with emotion at times. “It’s not OK and I’m not doing it anymore. We have to be able to draw a line and I’m drawing a line.”

The bill passed the Senate unanimously. Grove said she hopes to strengthen it as it moves through the Assembly.

The Assembly on Thursday recognized Assemblymember Vince Fong, a Bakersfield Republican who on Tuesday won a special election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Fong will take the seat of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, finishing out this term. However, he must win the November election to get a full two-year term.

Categories / Government, Law, Politics

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