5 California bills to watch this legislative session

It has been a busy month in Sacramento, as lawmakers scramble to push last year’s lingering legislation out of their respective homes before the Jan. 31 deadline and set the agenda for the upcoming session. .

With several key issues affecting the state – the wildfires, the housing crisis, criminal justice, the carbon footprint – and a Democratic Qualified Majority presiding over the state legislature, many progressive initiatives targeting the issues and issues. California’s priorities could become law by next year.

Here are some of the bills to watch out for as the session progresses:

AB 1909: the end of virginity tests

In December of last year, rapper TI blithely told the “Ladies Like Us” podcast that he takes his 18-year-old daughter to the doctor every year – to have her virginity checked. The revelation sparked national outrage and questions about whether the practice is abusive.

The episode, hosted by Nazanin Mandi and Nadia Moham, has since been withdrawn. But it was enough to spur state lawmakers to act. New York MP Michaelle Solages, a Democrat, was the first to step out, introducing legislation in her state to ban virginity testing. California MP Lorena Gonzalez, a Democrat, followed with the 1909 Assembly Bill which also seeks to ban the practice.

Defining virginity as “a social and cultural construct,” Gonzalez called the test medically unfounded and a dangerous and wrong idea.

“So-called ‘virginity testing’ is a form of violence and harassment against young girls and women,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “There is no medical reason for this examination. It is time for California to heed the calls of the international community and to ban this traumatic, sexist and unnecessary practice.

If the bill becomes law, violators would be liable to penalties for professional misconduct.

AB 1839: a California Green New Deal

Inspired by the federal proposal brought forward by New York Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last year, AB 1839 would allow California lawmakers to create their own Green New Deal for the state.

Led by Assembly Member Rob Bonta D-Alameda, five Democratic lawmakers introduced the bill on January 6, citing the need for an ambitious plan to tackle climate change while tackling other problems in the state – including the housing and homelessness crisis – over the next 10 years.

So far, the plan contains few details, including how the goals will be met or how much the state will pay to meet those goals. What is clear, however, is that the governor will need to create and complete a new seven-member California Green New Deal Council and that group will submit a report by 2022.

But Bonta promised that at the end of the session there will be concrete goals and guidelines on how to achieve the goals. He said he expects the legislation to be similar to federal legislation but built for California, and that his “big and ambitious bill” will be “expensive but necessary”.

SB 867: Exemptions from labor law

Senate Bill 867 Responds to California Controversynew labor code implemented this year,specifically with regard to the publishing industry.

AB 5 seeks to crack down on employee misclassification with a codified three-pronged rule (created by the California Supreme Court) to determine whether businesses can hire independent contractors. Contract workers are not covered by labor law protections, including minimum wage, workers’ compensation, and required sick days. They are also much cheaper to rent. AB lawyers5 defend its efforts to ensure protection for all California workers, while critics condemn its radical approach and argue that it will reduce opportunities and end the flexibility of the self-employed.

AB 5 is targeting the gig economy, especially tech giants Lyft, Uber, and DoorDash, which have built business models around contract workers. But other industries have been affected by the bill – and many are not happy with it.

Newspaper publishers, in particular, were fiercely opposed, both because the law limits how often freelancers can contribute to publications, and could also force newspapers to hire the people who distribute their newspapers. The newspaper industry has fought hard for exemptions from AB 5 until the very end of last year’s session and has given itself an extra year to determine how it will fit in. carriers.

If SB 867 passes, they won’t have to worry – the Republican-backed bill seeks to overturn labor law and give publishers permanent exemptions. A buddy-bill, SB 868, would exempt independent content creators. Both were introduced by Senator Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel.

Following:Late night victory for California newspapers: lawmakers agree to one-year exemption to AB 5 for carriers

“House Bill 5 took a mass approach to an employment problem that required a scalpel, which has consequently hammered many Californians who genuinely want to remain their own bosses,” Bates said in a statement. communicated. “Passing my legislation will help preserve quality journalism in many communities. “

The bill is backed by all 10 Republican Senators, but will likely face a fierce fight if passed, especially in the Assembly where AB 5’s author, MP Gonzalez, chairs the Appropriations Committee. . Many senators and members of the assembly who voted at the eleventh hour to adopt the one-year exemption for newspaper carriers have sworn they will not agree to extend the deadline.

AB 1904: Physiotherapy of the pelvic floor

Presented by Congresswoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, D-Encinitas, AB 1904 would require all health care plans to include coverage for post-pregnancy pelvic floor physical therapy from January 2021. California law already requires coverage for maternity benefits, but postpartum care is not always offered. Experts around the world are starting to recommend that pelvic floor physiotherapy become the norm, especially for women recovering from childbirth.

According to a 2018 study published by the Israel Medical Association, pregnancy and childbirth can damage the pelvic floor causing incontinence (both types), chronic pain and even organ prolapse. Some of these problems don’t show up until later, but can often be avoided with the right care.

In some European countries, the practice is already considered standard. In France, for example, women are prescribed 10 to 20 pelvic physical rehabilitation sessions and everything is covered by the country’s health plan.

SB 50: the upzoning was rejected

OK OK. It’s not exactly a bill to watch because he died in the Senate on January 23, three less votes to pass in the State Assembly. The controversial housing bill that sought to give the state more jurisdiction over local zoning in an effort to increase housing density in California cities has been contested for more than a year and has deeply divided legislators and stakeholders.

Advocates saw it as a way to add new units near public transport to simultaneously increase housing production and reduce long commute times.

Critics feared this would lead to gentrification and limit local zoning control.

Following:California’s Polarizing Housing Bill SB 50 Dies in State Senate

It’s on the list because lawmakers swore the fight was not over and promised a new and improved housing bill by the end of the year. During a Senate debate that lasted more than two hours, senators for and against the bill agreed that something needed to be done – and it must be done soon – to address the severe housing shortage in California.

“Yesterday was tough. We had a way to go to pass # SB50 but the votes did not go as planned, given the brass knuckles politics at stake,” wrote SB 50 author Senator Scott. Wiener, D-San Francisco, on Twitter on Friday. “It’s disappointing but a temporary setback. We will come back and soon. Because we have to. Because we are in crisis and we have no choice but to take bold action.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who made ambitious election promises, also called for a bill to be on his desk by the end of the year.

“California’s housing affordability crisis demands that our state pass a landmark housing development bill,” Newsom said in a statement after the bill was rejected.

Wiener has already filed two new housing bills –SB 902 and SB 899 – since his bill died.

Gabrielle Canon covers California for USA Today and Gannett. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleCanon.

Bernard P. Love