Important Legislation by Sen. Hertzberg Continues Moving Forward
With three days to go in this year’s legislative session, several bills have been sent to the Governor and a few await a final vote
SACRAMENTO – Two bills by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, were signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this week, and several others passed the Legislature and were sent to his desk. Here is an update of Sen. Hertzberg’s bills:
LEGISLATION SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR
Cleaning Hazardous Waste Sites
SB 820 renews the California Land Reuse & Revitalization Act (CLRRA), which is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2017, for another 10 years. The act encourages redevelopment of blighted properties by allowing purchasers of contaminated lots to negotiate a cleanup plan with the state in exchange for liability protection from damages associated with the original contamination that they had no role in. Gov. Jerry Brown signed this bill on Monday.
Transit Fare Evasion
SB 882 prohibits youths from being charged with a criminal violation for transit fare evasion and instead treats the offense through an administrative process. Gov. Jerry Brown signed this bill on Monday.
LEGISLATION SENT TO THE GOVERNOR
Native American Education Centers
SB 911 makes the California American Indian Education Center program permanent, thereby allowing 22 American Indian education centers in 17 California counties to continue receiving state support. The program, run by the Department of Education, is due to sunset on Jan. 1, 2017 in the absence of this bill. The Senate concurred with Assembly amendments on Thursday and sent the bill to the governor.
Improving Water Supply
SB 919 requires the state to better coordinate energy resources by directing excess renewable energy that can occur during the middle of the day toward water agencies that recycle or purify water. The Senate concurred with Assembly amendments on Wednesday and sent the bill to the governor.
Boosting Small Business Loans
SB 936 makes more private loans possible through the state IBank’s Small Business Loan Guarantee Program by adopting the federal standard for leveraging the financing, which means less state money is required to back the private loans than under the current state standard. In essence, the change allows the state and federal funding used to guarantee the loans to go further. The Senate concurred with Assembly amendments on Aug. 11 and sent the bill to the governor.
Protecting Workers’ Wages
SB 954 clarifies the list of deductions an employer can count to reduce hourly wages, without prior consent from employees. The bill excludes wage credits for employer payments for industry advancement unless it is part of a bargained agreement. The Senate concurred with Assembly amendments on Aug. 11 and sent the bill to the governor.
Safeguarding Government Bonds
SB 1029 requires the state to track and report on all new state and local government debt until it is fully repaid or redeemed. The Senate concurred with Assembly amendments on Wednesday and sent the bill to the governor.
SB 1137 clarifies that infecting computers with ransomware is a form of extortion and punishable as such. The Senate concurred with Assembly amendments on Thursday and sent the bill to the governor.
Overseeing Tax Checkoffs
SB 1476 requires tax checkoff donations to be continuously appropriated to the administering agency and that the administering agency post online the process for awarding the money, how program funds are awarded and how much is spent on administration. The Senate concurred with Assembly amendments on Thursday and sent the bill to the governor.
LEGISLATION STILL AWAITING VOTES
Ensuring Legal Rights
SB 614 extends an important fee waiver to low-income defendants, sentenced under the Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011, who rely on court-appointed legal counsel. Legal fees for criminal defendants can be expensive burdens that are collected from the innocent family members of offenders. This bill protects families of defendants from unnecessary burdens by extending the presumption that a defendant can’t pay defense fees if sentenced to jail for a year or more. The bill passed the Assembly on Thursday and is awaiting a committee hearing in the Senate.
Firefighter Training: Mental Health
SB 1221 allows the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training to offer a training course related to law enforcement interaction with mentally disabled persons to firefighters. This bill helps give firefighters better options when interacting with mentally ill individuals. The bill passed the Assembly on Monday and is awaiting a floor vote in the Senate.
SB 1298 adds a missing definition of “sewer service” to the law to include stormwater, so local governments can more easily finance and build stormwater projects. The bill was passed by the Assembly Local Government Committee on June 29 and is awaiting an Assembly floor vote.
SB 1349 directs the state to overhaul the Secretary of State’s antiquated Cal-Access system for filing and accessing campaign finance and lobbying data. The bill was passed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Aug. 11 and is awaiting an Assembly floor vote.
SB 881 requires courts to process traffic amnesty requests in a timely manner. The Assembly floor approved amendments to the bill on Aug. 19 and it is awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Transportation Committee. The bill was amended to delete provisions related to suspended driver’s licenses.
In regards to the amendments, Sen. Hertzberg issued this statement:
“In coordination with the Administration, we are limiting the scope of SB 881, part of our on-going efforts to bring greater fairness to California’s system for imposing fines and license suspensions for vehicle violations. Last year we embarked on this effort with a successful amnesty program – recognizing that drivers with limited incomes are unfairly affected compared to wealthier Californians by escalating add-ons to fines, which have become a revenue source for a multitude of state programs. My SB 881 of this year was intended to look at the related issue of whether it is appropriate to suspend a driver’s license for a failure to appear in court or to pay a fine when these are often due to inability to pay fines of the size we are now using. As part of the work we anticipate doing with the Administration this fall, this issue as well as the underlying fee system will be carefully reviewed in the hope of developing a comprehensive fee reform proposal for next year.”
Last year, Hertzberg authored SB 405, which, along with Brown’s related budget proposal, established a new traffic amnesty program. The program allows people to talk to a judge if they want to before paying fines, restores driver’s licenses to those with a payment plan and reduces exorbitant fee debts by taking a person’s income into account in setting the fine amount.
In the first six months of that program, more than 132,000 Californians have received amnesty fine and fee reductions and more than 104,000 Californians have had their suspended driver’s licenses reinstated, according to the California Judicial Council.
Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, represents nearly 1 million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. See a district map at http://sd18.senate.ca.gov/district. After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through the Think Long Committee of California. Learn more at www.senate.ca.gov/hertzberg.
MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew LaMar
Senator Robert M. Hertzberg
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, CA 95814