Senator Hertzberg's 2017 Legislation
Read about some of the 2017 legislation authored by Sen. Bob Hertzberg:
(Not yet passed; still active in 2018): On any given day, 63 percent or roughly 46,000 Californians are awaiting trial or sentencing in a county jail, many of whom are there simply because they cannot afford to post bail. For people who can’t pay, their lives are turned upside down, waiting in jail for weeks or months before their case goes to court even when the charge is minor. SB 10 would reform California’s money bail system and replace the current pretrial process that often forces people of modest means accused of minor crimes to remain in jail until a court can determine their innocence or guilt while the wealthy go free.
(Chaptered in 2017) 1 in 8 Californians currently struggle with food insecurity. To support the distribution of food supplies to low-income individuals and families, this bill continues the Emergency Food for Families Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund through 2026. Tax checkoff contributions received in 2016 paid for roughly 2.5 million meals.
(Not yet passed; still active in 2018): A ticket in California for a traffic infraction such as a broken tail light or even jaywalking can lead to thousands of dollars in fines and fees and may ultimately lead to a suspended driver’s license – not for bad driving behavior, but as an administrative punishment if the defendant is too poor to pay. SB 185 addresses the unfair practice of suspending a license because of inability to pay. In addition to prohibiting these types of license suspensions, SB 185 would also provide numerous remedies for low-income Californians to make amends for non-safety related driving offenses. Thanks to the introduction of this legislation, Governor Brown changed the law in June 2017 to prevent license suspensions in a budget trailer bill.
(Chaptered in 2017) Under current law, water agencies are limited in the type of infrastructure they can fund to manage storm and flood waters. Local governments are often underfunded and are constrained from easily charging and financing stormwater projects that we need to manage water supplies and address water pollution in our communities. Stormwater is a key source of local water supply and careful management is necessary now more than ever due to California’s continuing cycles of drought. SB 231 gives cities, counties, and local water agencies broader authority to finance local projects to put stormwater to use.
(Not yet passed; action has been taken by DMV) SB 237 was introduced to roll back drivers license suspensions for 200,000 Californians who did not benefit from Traffic Amnesty Program that ended in spring 2017 and who had their licenses suspended before the Governor changed the law to prevent the practice in June 2017. In addition to introducing SB 237, Senator Hertzberg sent a letter to the Governor in September, and took to the Senate Floor in the final days of the 2017 legislative session to urge that this issue be taken up on two separate occasions, which you can see here and here. As a result, in March 2018, the DMV announced that they had lifted all drivers’ license suspensions that were based solely on failure to pay violations.
(Chaptered in 2017) In recent years, the practice of school lunch shaming has come to light. In some school cafeterias, students who haven’t paid lunch fees are directed out of lunch lines and instead given bread and cheese, or their lunches are simply dumped into the garbage while peers look on. SB 250 was crafted to ensure that school officials do not delay or deny food to punish students whose parents have unpaid school meal fees. It specifies that students will not be shamed for the debt that is the responsibility of their parent or guardian. The legislation, which drew national media attention, won overwhelming bipartisan support.
(Chaptered in 2017) Allows the Labor Commissioner to seek relief for an employee who has been retaliated against, while an investigation into the retaliation is being conducted. Under the previous law, when an employee is retaliated against for speaking up about a workplace violation, the Commissioner must wait until an investigation is done to petition the court for employee relief. Investigations can easily take over a year to complete, so this bill will allow for timely justice.
(Chaptered in 2017) Free gifts and trials provide a benefit to both businesses and consumers. However, this promotional tool becomes a problem when consumers accept a complementary item, but are unaware or unclear of the conditions attached to the promotion. SB 313 requires businesses offering free trials to display, in a clear and conspicuous manner, what the price of the product or service will be at the end of the trial. It also requires businesses to allow a consumer to cancel an automatically-renewed subscription online, if online subscription is an option.
(Chaptered in 2017) Cancer is the second leading cause of death in California and the United States after heart disease. To provide critical funding to advance the fight against breast cancer and other forms of cancer, this bill continues the California Breast Cancer Research Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund and the California Cancer Research Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund through 2024. These funds will advance our scientific understanding of cancer and how to defeat it.
(Chaptered in 2017) SB 450 requires any issuer of local debt to obtain and disclose specified information related to the cost of long-term borrowing as a good faith estimate. Requiring this information helps the public to understand the cost of long-term borrowing and evaluate if it is a prudent choice.
(Not yet passed; still active in 2018): To help phase out offshore oil production and ensure net environmental benefits, this bill seeks to clarify how the state will permit decommissioning oil rigs into artificial reefs. Turning old oil rigs into artificial reefs is a creative solution to an old problem that has shown enormous benefits in other parts of the world. The legislation establishes the process and safeguards necessary to ensure the rigs-to-reefs program will be environmentally beneficial, and in addition, it generates significant funding that will support many other important environmental programs.
(Chaptered in 2018): Our state sets fuel efficient standards for cars, appliances, and buildings which are modeled around the world and continue to save ratepayers money every day. SB 606 establishes, for the first time, permanent water efficiency standards and goals across the state to be met by 2026. The bill requires all urban water agencies to submit water contingency plans and to update their urban water management plans to focus on achieving the newly-established water efficiency goals across all sectors – residential, commercial, industrial, and outdoor.
(Chaptered in 2017) SB 614 requires that when local transit agencies use an administrative enforcement process, the revenue from rider citations are deposited with the transit agency, rather than in the county general fund. The bill also cuts in half the maximum fine amounts that can be issued to riders and requires community service to be offered as an alternative to payment to minors and low-income individuals.