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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Marathon sessions begin for California Legislature

The Assembly and Senate are working toward meeting a Friday deadline to pass bills that originated in their respective chambers.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — The California Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would ensure cities and counties couldn't impose their own voter ID laws.

Senate Bill 1174 — written by state Senator Dave Min, an Irvine Democrat — was one of hundreds of bills the Legislature will take up this week in advance of a Friday deadline.

Bills must pass out of their house of origin by Friday or die. Both the Assembly and Senate are set to meet every day this week, voting on hundreds of bills.

Speaking in support of his bill, Min on Tuesday pointed to the city of Huntington Beach. Voters in that city passed a measure in the March primary, giving the local government the power to require people show ID when voting in municipal elections.

Min said existing law already prohibits cities and counties from imposing voter ID requirements. However, ambiguity exists for charter cities, like Huntington Beach.

“This bill would close that ambiguity,” Min said.

The state Constitution gives charter cities and counties power over their municipal affairs, with their laws trumping all inconsistent laws.

According to a Senate staff analysis, the Constitution doesn’t define “municipal affairs.” That means the courts could determine if something is a municipal or statewide issue.

Min referred to the “Big Lie,” the phrase used to describe accusations that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, saying that there’s no evidence of voter fraud. He added that Orange County, where Huntington Beach is located, has one of the most secure voting systems in the nation.

Huntington Beach Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark has called Min’s bill overreach. In a prior statement to Courthouse News, she said voters had spoken and voter ID was the law in her city.

The bill now advances to the Assembly.

Senate Bill 961 — written by state Senator Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat — also passed out of that chamber on Tuesday.

The bill in its original form would have required vehicles made or sold in the Golden State to have a device that prohibited them from exceeding the speed limit by over 10 mph.

The legislation has since been amended and now would require 50% of vehicles from model year 2029 and later, and 100% of vehicles from model year 2032 or later, to have a passive intelligent speed assistance system.

The device would use visual and audio signals to notify a driver when they exceed the speed limit by over 10 mph.

“Studies show this does have an impact in getting people to slow down,” Wiener said.

Senators also passed Senate Bill 233 — written by state Senator Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat — that will enable Arizona doctors to provide abortion services to patients from Arizona in California.

Hailed by Governor Gavin Newsom, the bill was a response to Arizona’s Supreme Court upholding an 1864 near-total abortion ban. The Arizona Legislature has since repealed that law, though that repeal won’t become effective until October or November.

“This is why SB 233 is still needed,” Skinner said.

Having already passed the Assembly, this bill now proceeds to the governor’s desk. It will become law immediately if passed.

The Senate also passed bills related to reparations for the descendants of enslaved people.

Senate Bill 1403 — written by state Senator Steven Bradford, a Gardena Democrat — would create the California American Freedmen Affairs Agency. That agency would implement recommendations of the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, with a Special Consideration for African Americans Who are Descendants of Persons Enslaved in the United States.

“If you can inherit generational wealth, you can inherit generational debt,” Bradford said.

Senate Bill 1331, also by Bradford, would create the fund for reparations and reparative justice. Funding would come from local, state and federal grants, as well as private donations.

On Tuesday, the Legislature also passed:

• Assembly Bill 1866, written by Assemblymember Gregg Hart, a Santa Barbara Democrat. This bill would require operators of idle wells to make a plan to fix the well, as well as increase the percentage of wells that must be eliminated or plugged each year.

Assembly Bill 2236, written by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, an Orinda Democrat. Her bill would remove existing law that allows film plastic bags to be used as reusable bags. Bauer-Kahan in a bill analysis said the state’s current plastic bag ban isn’t working as intended, as the thicker plastic bags currently in use aren’t being reused or recycled. A similar bill is in the Senate.

Assembly Bill 1893, written by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, an Oakland Democrat. It would make it easier to construct housing in cities and counties that don’t comply with state housing laws.

Assembly Bill 2584, written by Assemblymember Alex Lee, a San Jose Democrat. The bill would prohibit corporations that own over 1,000 single-family homes from purchasing more homes and renting them.

Categories / Government, Law, Regional

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