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Legislation Report – Latest Bills Passed in California, Oct. 17, 2023 Now Signed or Vetoed by Orlean Koehle

Vetoed SB 403 - would make California the first state in the nation to explicitly ban discrimination based on caste (because of so many immigrants from India).

Signed SB 447 - (Seven years ago, a bill was passed denying travel expenses for state and public university employees to go to 26 Republican states where they had any laws against total acceptance of the LGBTQ community.) lifts that travel ban. Instead, it creates a donation-funded marketing campaign to promote inclusiveness for the LGBTQ community. When Newsom signed the bill, he wrote a statement that it “helps California’s message of acceptance, equality and hope reach the places where it is most needed.

Signed AB 659 - would have schools “recommend” to parents that their children be fully immunized against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, between the sixth and eighth grade. [The language used to be “mandate,” but got lots of pushback. Then the author tried to make it mandatory for college girls, but even got more pushback from universities and colleges, so she finally changed the language to “recommend,” and the bill passed both the Senate and the Assembly. The vaccine for HPV is called Gardasil and has had lots of negative side effects – including seizures, sterility and even deaths. The bill adds that the “cost of the HPV vaccine is completely covered, regardless of health insurance status, by expanding coverage requirements for the HPV vaccine and expanding comprehensive clinical family planning services.”

Vetoed SB 509 - Since 2017, anxiety and depression rates among youth have increased by 70% in California. SB 509 seeks to change this by mandating mental health education and training for all certified staff, and for 40% of classified staff who work directly with students. (Of course, this training will include “gender-transitioning guidance and affirmation,” which schools are pushing across the state.)

Signed AB 373 - gives foster and homeless youth priority access to intersession programs, or programs offered by local educational agencies on days without school. This is to try to create more education equity for them.

Vetoed AB 957 – Specified that judges consider a parent’s support of a child’s gender and sexual identity in custody cases. The name of the bill “Transgender, Gender-diverse, Intersex Youth Empowerment Act [AB 957]” gives you the idea that a judge should be persuaded to side with the parent who is more supportive of the child’s “gender transitioning.” The language of the bill adds: [this bill] “provides California the opportunity to take one step closer to building a safer, more dignified, and equitable world for youth and their families.”

Signed AB 1078 - would crack down on school districts attempting to ban books because of “obscene or inappropriate material.” So, now that it is law, no school district gets to come up with their own policy of what books are appropriate of not appropriate for children. Anything will be allowed in California.

Signed SJR 7 - a joint resolution was passed asking for an Article V Convention to adopt a Newsom-backed effort to add new gun-control measures to the US Constitution. This includes universal background checks, an assault weapon ban, waiting periods and a minimum purchase age of 21.

Signed SB 2 - rewrites the state's concealed carry weapons laws to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year. It would raise the age requirement to get a concealed carry permit from 18 to 21 and ban concealed weapons in a number of public places including hospitals, bars, amusement parks, libraries and public transportation.

Signed AB 28 - would add an 11% tax on firearm and ammunition purchases in California. The estimated $159 million in annual revenue from the tax would fund gun violence prevention programs, school safety and illegal firearm enforcement. Similar bills have failed in previous years over mixed support from Democrats.

Signed AB 701 - adds fentanyl to a list of substances, including cocaine and heroin, where dealers in possession of more than a kilogram could be hit with additional sentences. It’s meant to target large-scale drug traffickers.

Signed AB 33 – would establish a 27-person Fentanyl Addiction and Overdose Prevention Task Force. If signed by the governor, the task force would have about a year to collect data on the crisis, identify drivers of illegal activity, and assess and develop treatment and prevention models.

Signed SB 14 - (by ® Shannon Grove) would make child trafficking subject to the state’s three-strikes law. That classification means people convicted of serious or violent crimes automatically get steep sentences if they re-offend.

Signed SB 4 – would help the homeless by providing a streamlined process for churches, faith institutions and nonprofit colleges to build affordable housing on their land. The bill would open up approximately 171,000 acres of land to affordable housing.

Signed SB 345 - would shield doctors and health care providers who prescribe an abortion or gender-affirming care in other states from legal action.

Signed SB 487 - would prohibit insurers from penalizing a doctor who performs an abortion.

Signed SB 385 - will allow physician assistants to receive training and perform first-trimester abortions via vacuum aspiration. It follows a similar bill Atkins authored last year allowing nurse practitioners to perform abortions.

Signed AB 352 - would make information in fertility and menstrual tracking apps subject to medical privacy laws, shielding that data from advertisers and other parties.

Signed AB 531 – to help with the mental health issues, voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on a $6.4 billion bond to build infrastructure for 10,000 new behavioral health treatment slots across the state. Under AB 531, the bond will go before voters in March 2024.

Signed AB 418 - would prohibit the manufacture or distribution of foods containing certain additives such as red dye No. 3, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil and propyl paraben in California — chemicals often found in processed candies, drinks and baked goods.

Vetoed SB 58 - would decriminalize certain plant and mushroom based psychedelics. It provides a framework for Californians over 21 years old to use psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and mescaline. Veterans were among the voices in support of the measure, saying that these psychedelics provide critical relief to those suffering certain health conditions, including PTSD. If Newsom signs SB 58, California will join Oregon and Colorado, which have adopted similar laws.

Signed ACA 1 - seeks to make it easier for local governments to impose taxes to fund certain housing and transportation projects. It would lower the voter threshold to approve special taxes and bonds from two-thirds to 55%. The measure will need voter approval on the November 2024 ballot before becoming law.

Held until Nov. 1 ACA 13 - would require ballot measures aiming to raise the threshold for new taxes to pass by the same threshold. For instance, if a ballot measure is asking voters to approve a 66% threshold on new taxes, that measure would also have to win support from two-thirds of voters. It will be placed on the March primary ballot.

Signed AB 421 - makes three major changes to California’s referendum process:
• Top donors who funded the referendum’s qualification for the ballot now to be disclosed to voters in the state’s voter information guide.
• It creates a process for referendum proponents to withdraw the measure from the ballot.
• It will alter ballot wording for referendum measures so that voters are asked to “Keep the law” or “Overturn the law” rather than “Yes” or “No.”

Vetoed SB 799 — would extend unemployment benefits to workers who go on strike for more than two weeks.

Signed AB 1228 - would require fast food chains with more than 60 locations nationwide to pay their California workers a minimum of $20 per hour.

Signed SB 525 - would provide annual, scheduled minimum wage increases for the state’s lowest-paid health care workers. Those who work in large health care facilities and dialysis clinics would reach a $25 per hour wage by 2026, while the rest of the health care workforce would be covered by 2028. A UC Berkeley study found that this move could affect at least 469,000 workers in the state, raising their pay by over $5.74, on average.

Signed SB 616 - A bill to increase the amount of paid sick leave from 3 to 5 days. Supporters argued the pandemic showed the current minimum was not enough, especially since COVID-19 takes 5-10 days to clear from the system. Opponents argued the COVID pandemic restrictions hit small businesses hard, and they can’t afford to increase benefits for workers.

Signed AB 1 - would allow legislative staffers to unionize beginning in 2026. AB 1 is the fifth attempt to achieve staff unionization in recent years and this is the first time such a measure has been approved by both houses and reached the Governor’s desk. Staffers say they hope a union will allow them to advocate for higher pay and better working conditions.

Signed SB 253 - requires companies in California making more than $1 billion annually to report their CO2 emissions.

Signed SB 261 - requires companies making more than $500 million annually to report financial risks related to climate change.

Signed AB 1167 - targets orphan wells in California. If signed, it will prohibit well owners from transferring ownership of the well to someone else unless they file for a bond to fully cover site restoration, plugging and its abandonment. Advocates say the law would help prevent taxpayers from paying these costs.

Signed Another pair of bills would introduce two new species into the official list of California state symbols:

Signed SB 732 would make the pallid bat — which has golden fur and lives in the Sacramento Valley — California’s state bat.

Signed AB 261 would make the California Golden Chanterelle, or Cantharellus californicus, California’s state mushroom.

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