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HomeSpotlight Story | Bird’s Eye View | Budget & Taxes | Politics & Leadership | Governors | Hot Issues | Once Around the Statehouse Lightly
With the October 15 signing deadline fast approaching, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is slowly working his way through the annual slew of bills that end up on his desk after the frantic final days of the legislative session come to an end. But while Brown has already inked his name to some of his biggest legislative priorities – a new gas tax to fund desperately needed infrastructure repairs, chief among them – he has yet to determine the fate of several more of the state’s most high-profile measures.
Among the most closely watched bills yet to be acted upon is SB 54, the so-called “sanctuary state” bill that would determine if, when and how much state law enforcement officers will cooperate with federal immigration officials. The Trump administration, and specifically U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has already threatened to withhold federal funds from so-called “sanctuary cities” with similar policies, though the courts have so far sided with cities on the matter. Even so, a federal lawsuit is expected if Brown signs the bill.
Two major gender pay equity measures also await his decision: AB 1209, which would require large employers to publish the company’s average gender pay gap for both workers and corporate board members, and AB 168, which would bar employers from asking job applicants to supply their wage history.
With health costs still at the crux of the health coverage debate, Brown will also weigh in on a closely watched measure intended to help curb rising prescription drug prices. Under SB 17, drug makers would have to give public and private drug buyers advance notice before making most price increases, typically those of more than $40. The measure, which is vehemently opposed by drug makers, would also require health insurers to report to the state how much they spend on prescriptions and the proportion of health insurance premiums that go toward drugs.
Other notable legislation Brown must weigh in on includes measures to make the first year of community college tuition-free (AB 19); a bill to require schools to offer female students a ready supply of free menstrual products (AB 10); a proposal to create a new nonbinary gender designation (SB 179); an expansion of the state’s family leave law to include companies with less than the current benchmark of 50 employees (SB 63); and a measure to give hourly school workers up to six weeks of paid furlough during the summer recess (SB 621).
Brown won’t have to deal with one highly controversial issue, however. Sen. Ricardo Lara (D) has shelved SB 349, a union-backed measure that would have drastically changed staffing requirements at the state’s 562 licensed dialysis centers. The measure, which was strongly opposed by the dialysis centers and many doctors’ groups, cleared the Senate in May. But Lara pulled the bill from further consideration in the Assembly as the legislative session wound down, saying he wanted to give stakeholders an opportunity to work out a compromise on their own. (For more on this, see SNCJ Spotlight [INSERT LINK] in this issue).
The governor also ended the suspense on another high-profile issue late last week, signing off on a trio of bills intended to help ease the Golden State’s affordable housing crisis. The measures collectively ease some environmental review regulations developers say discourage new building (SB 35), impose real estate transaction fees to help fund new affordable housing units (SB 2) and put a $4 billion housing bond before voters in 2018 (SB 3). Brown previously expressed his support for the package but had never definitively said he would sign them. (LEXISNEXIS STATE NET, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, LOS ANGELES TIMES, ED SOURCE)