Legislative Affairs Committee of West Orange County -- Legislative Updates as of April 21, 2017
Legislative policy committees have been very busy this week hustling to hear the remaining bills assigned to them in advance of the
April 28th legislative deadline. Bills that are not passed out of policy committee by next Friday are considered held, and likely will not see any more movement this legislative session. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) took decisive action in removing Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) from his seat as chair of the powerful Business and Professions (B & P) Standing Committee, likely as a result of Salas’ “No Vote” on SB 1, the $52 billion transportation package passed out of the Legislature last week. Salas is the co-chair, along with Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), of the fairly influential bloc of moderate, or business-friendly, Democrats in the Assembly, who were posturing in opposition to SB 1 because of its increases to state taxes and fees. Ultimately, the other moderate Assembly Democrats were persuaded to support SB 1, but Salas held steadfast to his opposition and was the only Assembly Democrat to vote “No” on the measure. Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) has been tapped to replace Salas as Chair of Assembly B & P, the committee that oversees professional licensing, a post that is known to be prime for fundraising. Salas was reassigned as a member of the Rules Committee. According to the Los Angeles Times, the day after the vote, Salas posted a quote from Mohandas K. Gandhi on Facebook reading, “It’s easy to stand in the crowd, but it takes courage to stand alone.”
The fallout from last week’s transportation package has caused turmoil on the other side of the aisle as well. Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), the only Republican lawmaker to support the controversial $52 billion transportation deal, reported to the Sacramento Bee that he received hundreds of angry, and some threatening, calls on his personal cell phone and at home. “Look, I’m a grown man and I’m an elected official. I expect it,” said Cannella. “Talking to my wife, come on. Talking to my kids, that’s unbelievable.” Cannella said his cell phone and home address were shared publicly the day after the vote. He said he did not know who shared the information and that he changed his number the same day. According to Canella, the California Highway Patrol is making extra patrols of his neighborhood. Cannella crossed party lines to vote for the measure after striking a side deal with legislative leaders and Governor Brown for nearly $500 million in funding that will benefit his district. The legislative path for AB 319—introduced by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) to prohibit retailers, by 2020, from selling beverages in bottles with a cap that is not tethered to the container—came to a halt this past week as the bill was pulled from the Assembly Natural Resources Committee agenda. According to sources in the Capitol, the bill is now being explored as a two-year option, and will not be moved through the legislature this session.
INTERESTING BUT IRRELEVANT We reported earlier this legislative session about a California bill targeting “fake news.” There are now four bills addressing this fast growing and fascinating national concern, first raised by President Donald Trump. AB 155 (Gomez, D-Los Angeles) was passed out of the Assembly Education Committee by a vote of 7-0 this week. The bill moves to Assembly Appropriations and would direct a State curriculum board to develop resources to teach students how to judge news stories they can trust. A similar bill from Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), SB 135, was passed out of the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 5-2. SB 203, authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) was passed out of that same committee by the same margin. Jackson’s bill wants to develop a State advisory committee of teachers, administrators, researchers, and parents to develop public school strategies to teach students digital citizenship, internet safety, and media literacy. Rounding out the foursome is AB 1104 from Assembly member Ed Chau (D-Arcadia), drafted to prohibit anyone from knowingly making a false statement to influence a vote or committing an act of cyber fraud against a candidate for public office. Chau’s bill has yet to be heard by a policy committee.