2019 Legislative Recap: Our Success and Next Steps for 2020

by Melissa Romero

2019 Legislative Recap: Our Success and Next Steps for 2020

With the stroke of his pen, Governor Newsom took his final action this week on numerous bills, including several crucial pieces of climate and environmental legislation we’ve advocated for this cycle. Thanks to you, we were successful in getting 16 out of 20 of our priority bills signed into law!

Together, we were able to hold our elected leaders accountable to reduce air and water pollution, preserve our precious wildlife and outdoor spaces, and take on the influence of Big Oil in our government.

Here’s a recap of your success this year:

OUR 2019 LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS

CLCV advocated for several important bills this cycle. These were the bills that were signed into law:

SB 44 (Skinner) Ditch Dirty Diesel—SIGNED INTO LAW

Advances California’s climate, air quality, and vehicle emission reduction goals by developing a strategy to ditch dirty diesel. This strategy will identify goals to reduce cancer causing air pollutants from medium and heavy-duty diesel trucks, which currently prevent millions of Californians, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color, from breathing healthy air.

SB 72 (Umberg) Same Day Voter Registration for All—SIGNED INTO LAW

Significantly expands access to same day voter registration which will increase voter turnout by eliminating deadlines that cut off interested voters and the confusion caused by inaccurate voter rolls. Starting in 2020, a crucial election year, increases voting access to the 5.5 million eligible, unregistered voters in California and allows voters registered with no party preference an option to participate in a political party’s presidential primary.

SB 200 (Monning) Framework for Delivering Clean Drinking Water for Californians—SIGNED INTO LAW

Critical component in the effort to protect kids and families from toxic taps by providing a framework for a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Paired with a sustainable source of funding, helps to make the California promise of safe water for all, a reality.

SB 210 (Leyva) Smog Checks for Dirty Diesel Trucks—SIGNED INTO LAW

Critical next step to reducing toxic air pollution from diesel trucks in order to improve air quality and public health in communities, particularly low-income communities of color, choked by harmful particulate matter and smog. Allows Californians to breathe easier by requiring regular smog checks, which are already required for passenger vehicles, for heavy duty diesel trucks.

SB 307 (Roth) Stop the Destructive Cadiz Water Project—SIGNED INTO LAW

Defends California’s protected desert lands, already facing increasing risks due to climate change, from an environmentally disastrous project that proposes to export groundwater from an ancient desert aquifer at an alarming rate of overdraft. SB 307 defends the Mojave Desert from another attempt by the Trump administration to despoil our protected public lands.

SB 551 (Jackson) Holding Industry Accountable for Cleanup Costs—SIGNED INTO LAW

We must ensure that taxpayers are not on the hook for the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in liabilities from the decommissioning and cleanup of retired or abandoned oil and gas facilities. SB 551 will provide the state with the estimated costs of plugging and decommission oil wells in the state as well as oil and gas operator’s financial ability to cover those associated costs.

AB 38 (Wood) Adapting California Communities to the Threat of Wildfires—SIGNED INTO LAW

Establishes the Wildfire Mitigation Financial Assistance Program to create fire resilient communities by encouraging cost effective structure hardening and retrofitting. Increases the effectiveness of California’s fire preparedness by providing necessary tools to help high fire risk communities adapt to the frequent and escalating threat of wildfires due to our changing climate.

AB 59 (Kalra) Expand Access to Voting for College Students—SIGNED INTO LAW

Expands access to voting and conditional voter registration for college students by requiring county elections officials to consider locating vote centers on college campuses. Empowers young people and improves youth voter turnout by providing more accessible opportunities for new voters.

AB 209 (Limon) Expand Youth Access to the Outdoor Education—SIGNED INTO LAW

Directly addresses barriers that exist for underserved communities to access state parks and public lands, and opportunities to participate in environmental education experiences. No student in California should be denied the opportunity to experience California’s natural spaces.

AB 571 (Mullin) Local Campaign Contribution Limits—SIGNED INTO LAW

Under current law, there are no contribution limits on local campaigns, unless a jurisdiction chooses to adopt limits. AB 571 provides a reasonable contribution cap of $4,700 – the same limits that apply to candidates for State Assembly or State Senate – to stop the worst contribution abuses, while respecting local autonomy to set limits tailored to the needs of that community.

AB 849 (Bonta) Fair and Representative Local Redistricting Process—SIGNED INTO LAW

Bans partisan gerrymandering and keeps communities whole, making local elected officials accountable to their constituents and representative of the communities they serve. Strengthens local democracy by making local redistricting more inclusive, accessible, fair, and transparent.

AB 936 (R. Rivas) Safeguarding California from Crude Oil Spills—SIGNED INTO LAW

Fills a critical gap in existing law by protecting California’s waters, beaches, fisheries, and wildlife from potentially disastrous spills of heavy, non-floating oil which smothers wildlife and comes with heightened risks and costs. Non-floating oil poses a serious environmental threat and is one of the dirtiest and most destructive heavy crudes that is not fully addressed in current oil spill prevention planning.

AB 1057 (Limon) Holding Industry Accountable for Cleanup Costs—SIGNED INTO LAW

We must address the serious risk of taxpayers being saddled with hundreds of millions, if not billions, in liabilities from the decommissioning and cleanup of retired or abandoned oil and gas facilities. AB 1057 protects taxpayers by creating additional financial security based on the risk that an oil and gas operator will desert their wells, as well the potential threat to life, public health, property, and natural resources.

AB 1232 (Gloria) Healthy Homes Act—SIGNED INTO LAW

Low income Californians who struggle to pay increasing energy bills due to more frequent extreme temperatures due to climate change, continue to struggle with increasing cost of rent. Creating greater collaboration and cross-referrals between public health agencies and environmental agencies means healthier homes for California’s most impacted residents.

AB 1328 (Holden) Disclosure of Air Pollution from Abandoned and Idle Oil and Gas Wells—SIGNED INTO LAW

Deserted and abandoned oil and gas wells have been found to leak methane and other toxic air pollutants, but currently there are no requirements to test and measure emissions from idle, deserted, and abandoned wells. AB 1328 will shed light on the amount of fugitive emissions from idle wells in the state and the public health impacts associated with those emissions.

AB 1583 (Eggman) The California Recycling Market Development Act—SIGNED INTO LAW

Reinvests in the California recycling economy, which has relied for too long on the export of recyclables that has led to the current recycling crisis after China and other Southeast Asian countries put an end to the dumping of poorly sorted materials on their environment. This bill supports in state recycling and incentivizes the recycling of paper and organic waste, which creates green jobs, economic, and environmental benefits.

LOOKING FORWARD TO 2020

The following bills were introduced this year. We've taken a stance on them, and they may be brought back in next year's legislative cycle:

SB 25 (Caballero & Glazer) Broad Streamlining of Environmental Safeguards—CLCV OPPOSES

Undermines the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for a broad range of projects, such as those that are only partially funded by a long list of eligible funding sources. No limitations on the types of projects funded partially by opportunity zone funds, and fails to recognize existing streamlining provisions and exemptions for affordable housing and transit priority projects.

SB 54 (Allen, et al.) / AB 1080 (Gonzalez et al.) The California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act—CLCV SUPPORTS

Significantly reduces the amount of single-use, non-recyclable, and non-compostable packaging and products that burden taxpayers and local governments with cleanup costs and litters our neighborhoods, parks, rivers, and beaches. SB 54 and AB 1080 are identical bills that establish a comprehensive plan to address plastic pollution and the waste crisis.

SB 86 (Durazo) Ban on Brain Damaging Pesticide—CLCV SUPPORTS

(Note: Recent actions taken by the administration bans all sales of chlorpyrifos after Feb. 6, 2020)

Protects pregnant mothers, infants, and young children from exposure to a dangerous pesticide, Chlorpyrifos, known to cause brain damage in infants and children. SB 86, recognizes the detrimental effects to the developing brain of young children associated with the use of Chlorpyrifos, which places an enormous burden on their academic and economic future, by ending the use of this toxic pesticide.

SB 386 (Caballero) Moves California Backwards on Clean Energy Goals—CLCV OPPOSES

Opens the door to a significant weakening of California’s landmark clean energy program, the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Negates the accelerated clean energy goals recently enacted by the Legislature in SB 350 and SB 100. Sets a precedent for other utilities to demand similar concessions for non-RPS eligible energy sources.

SB 574 (Leyva) Disclosure of Toxic Flavor and Fragrance Ingredients—CLCV SUPPORTS

Closes a loophole that allows cosmetic manufacturers to hide toxic ingredients under the words “fragrance” or “flavor” on labels, even if they are linked to negative health impacts such as allergic reactions, reproductive harm, or increased risk of breast cancer. Provides consumers and workers with the right to know if they are being exposed to toxic ingredients by products they use every day, and gives them the power to choose safer products.

SB 659 (Borgeas) Silencing Communities from Fighting Pollution—CLCV OPPOSES

Erodes the California Environmental Quality Act’s (CEQA) only enforcement mechanism by forcing community groups with legitimate concerns and limited financial resources to weigh the protection of their community against their ability to pay a developer’s attorney’s fees. Impedes community groups, especially those living in low-income communities of color, from engaging and makes CEQA enforcement less likely even with non-compliant infill housing developments.

SB 772 (Bradford) Expensive and Environmentally Damaging Energy—CLCV OPPOSES

Pump storage hydro projects increase costs to ratepayers unnecessarily without providing sufficient grid integration benefits. The bill’s forcing of procurement for long-term bulk energy storage is being driven by one lame duck project: Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project, threatening Joshua Tree National Park and surrounding lands and wildlife

ACA 6/ AB 646 (McCarty) Free the Vote—CLCV SUPPORTS

Restores voting rights to every person on parole in California, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their past involvement with the criminal legal system, can have their voices counted in our democracy. Providing greater access and opportunity to voting ensures that our policies reflect the interests and needs of all Californians.

ACA 8 (Low) Lowering the Voting age to 17—CLCV SPONSORS

Young people will be affected most by climate change and deserve to have their voices heard in upcoming elections. Now more than ever we need young voices to be heard in our democracy to make the difference for climate action. By lowering the voting age from 18- to 17-years old, ACA 8 will give youth a voice in the democratic process and will help instill a lifelong habit of voting.

AB 345 (Muratsuchi) Protecting Communities from oil and gas drilling–CLCV SUPPORTS

Recognizes the life threatening environmental health impacts to the nearly 5.5 million Californians who live in close proximity to oil and gas wells. This bill is critical to providing health and safety buffer zones of 2500 feet between new oil and gas wells to protect homes, schools, daycares, playgrounds, hospitals, and health clinics.

AB 961 (Reyes) Clean Energy Program Benefits to Environmental Justice Communities—CLCV SUPPORTS

Recognizes the air quality, energy security, and environmental benefits of clean energy programs that serve environmental justice communities. AB 961 ensures that these valuable non-energy benefits are accounted for and prioritized in a way that accurately reflects all of the ways that a community is positively impacted by clean energy investments.

AB 1217 (Mullin) The Issue Ad DISCLOSE Act—CLCV SUPPORTS

Empowers voters with crucial information about the top funders of issue ads. AB 1217 closes a major loophole by extending disclosure requirements to issue ads that attempt to influence the outcome of legislation and administrative actions and to electioneering communications that attack candidates. People deserve to know who’s really behind all of the ads they see.

AB 1299 (Salas, Hurtado, Grove) Exempts Monitoring of Toxic Air Pollutants for Heavily Polluted Neighborhood—CLCV OPPOSES

This is a last-minute, gut-and-amend allowing for oil refineries to continue to pollute already heavily polluted communities, specifically targeting a refinery located in a rural community in Kern County. Contradicts existing law by providing an exemption to a single refinery that is seeking to undermine California’s clean air goals, and sets a dangerous precedent for more oil refineries to request similar exemptions from the Legislature.

WE WON'T STOP FIGHTING

We’ve had a lot of success in Sacramento this cycle, but here’s the hard truth: our work is not done. We’re going up against the deep pockets of Big Oil, Big Ag, and other well-funded industry groups -- and we’ll need to start early to prepare to take them on next year.

Make no mistake, they’re already giving legislators calls and making their lobby visits. Help us continue to be just as strong of a presence in Sacramento and across the state.

Unfortunately, because of their influence, we fell short on a few bills and Governor Newsom vetoed several of our priority bills, rejecting them from becoming law. We’ll need your help to step up our efforts in the next months to change what’s possible and get these bills re-introduced and pass by the Legislature next cycle:

SB 1 (Atkins, et al.) California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act—VETOED

Defends California’s clean air and water, wildlife, and a healthy environment from the reckless attempts by the Trump administration to derail key environmental protections. Strengthens the foundation of federal protections for wildlife, clean air, clean water, and workers’ rights and continues California on a path to economic and environmental sustainability.

SB 139 (Allen) County Independent Redistricting Commissions—VETOED

Requires counties with more than 400,000 residents to establish an independent redistricting commission, ensuring a more fair, nonpartisan system for drawing the lines of county supervisorial districts. Brings more transparency and nonpartisan redistricting to California counties and ensure a more democratic process and more representative local government.

AB 556 (Carrillo) Expand Youth Access to Outdoor Experiences—VETOED

Increases outdoor learning and recreational opportunities for low-income youth who often have little to no access to California’s natural and cultural resources. No student in California should be denied the opportunity to experience California’s natural spaces.

AB 792 (Ting) Mandate Recycled Plastic in Plastic Bottles—VETOED

California is already diverting most beverage containers from landfills, but we are not taking advantage of the full environmental and economic benefit of recycling by keeping recycled material in the state for manufacturing. AB 792 closes the recycling loop by increasing the amounts of post-consumer recycled material in plastic beverage containers sold in this state.

NEXT STEPS IN FIGHTING FOR BOLD CLIMATE ACTION

Here’s where we ask you: will you make another donation to power our efforts to make bold climate action happen in Sacramento?

There’s no time to waste. To tackle our 11-year climate challenge, protect our environment, and take back our government from the influence of Big Oil, we need to build the political power necessary to pass the bold laws we voted our elected leaders to enact -- but it’s only possible if we fight together.

We’ve got a big task ahead to cut through the noise and influence of the corporate polluters, the plastic industry, Big Ag, and those who seek to move California environmental policy backwards.

Pitch in now to power our efforts to make bold climate action possible in Sacramento.

We can’t thank you enough. Your support is crucial to our success in Sacramento. Without you, our efforts to protect our progress and move us forward to make bold climate action possible in 2020.

Let’s transform our political system together and put in place the solutions needed to protect our future.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Posted on October 19, 2019 in Groundswell Blog.

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