Past Legislation

2021 Legislation

For his final term in the California State Senate, Majority Leader Hertzberg remained committed to reforming criminal justice, clean energy, water conservation, maintaining dignity and companionship for our homeless community, and so much more. 

SB 262 Safe and Resilient Communities Act - 2 year bill
(AB 329 in the Assembly) sets bail at $0 for misdemeanors and low-level felonies in California. These bills require that money paid for bail or bond be refunded when the charges are dropped, if a case has been dismissed, or if the person has not missed any required court appearances. The intent is to ensure that a person is not kept behind bars pending trial simply because of their inability to afford bail.

SB 267 Solar Tax Exclusion Clean-Up 
Clarifies changes in ownership as it relates to tax exclusions for solar energy systems. This will incentivize the construction of renewable energy projects in the State, thus benefiting both the economy and the environment.

SB 273 Storm Water Diversion Authority 
Authorizes municipal wastewater agencies to enter into voluntary agreements with entities responsible for storm water management – including municipal, industrial, and commercial storm water dischargers – to more effectively manage storm water and dry weather runoff.

SB 344 Pet Assistance and Support Program - 2 year bill
Builds on the success of the Pet Assistance and Support (PAS) Program of 2019 by requiring the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to develop and administer a program that awards grants to homeless shelters to serve the needs of pets for people experiencing homelessness, including shelter, food, and basic veterinary services.

SB 444 AmeriCorps Education Award Tax Exemption - 2 year bill
Recognizes the value of community service by exempting the AmeriCorps Segal AmeriCorps Education Award and the California For All Education Award from California state income tax. This will enable recipient to receive the full benefit in exchange for committing themselves to service, while providing valuable avenues for career and educational advancement.

SB 505 Fair Repayment Plan for Classified Employees - 2 year bill
Creates a clear process for when employees are inadvertently overpaid by their employers (by an accounting error or other mistakes), and aims to resolve the issue in an equitable manner that does not burden employees, and ensures employers are made whole.

SB 529 Electricity Reliability Act - 2 year bill
Authorizes a “central procurement” mechanism for electricity that will efficiently and equitably meet customer needs, and our statewide climate goals.

SB 539 
In conjunction with Proposition 19, this measure makes several clarifying changes to the “Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families and Victims of Wildlife or Natural Disaster Act.”

SB 552 Drought Resilient Communities Act - signed into law
Improves drought preparedness for small and rural communities by making various changes to local drought and water shortage contingency plans. It also enhances coordinated efforts between local and state governments, small water suppliers, and rural communities.

SB 572 The Workforce Asset Guarantee and Enforcement (WAGE) Act - signed into law
Allows the Labor Commissioner to record a certificate of lien on real property in order to secure amounts due to wronged-employees under final wage and penalty citations issued by the Labor Commissioner’s Bureau of Field Enforcement.

SB 774 Privilege Parity for Victims of Discrimination
Clarifies existing law to ensure confidential communications between attorneys of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and individuals who file an administrative complaint with the department are protected by attorney-client privilege. This clarification will protect victims of discrimination, and bolster’s California’s commitment to ensuring civil rights for all. 

2020 Legislation

In 2020, Senator Hertzberg authored a number of bills that fine tune water and energy policy, seek consumer protections for Californians, and improve on his prior legislative efforts.

SB 51 - Cannabis Banking - 2 year bill; still active in 2020
SB 51 creates a limited-purpose, state-chartered bank license that would be administered and regulated by the Department of Business Oversight. Privately-funded banks that receive this charter would be able to provide limited banking services to licensed cannabis and cannabis-related businesses. This bill is a follow-up attempt to SB 930 (Hertzberg, 2018), which was held by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

SB 342 - Trusted Ticketing - 2 year bill; still active in 2020
Dishonest marketing companies often manipulate internet searches by using the venue or artist name to bait consumers into believing they are purchasing the lowest-priced tickets directly from a venue, when that is not the case. SB 342 would prohibit the use of specific team names, leagues, venues, events, performances, or other trademarks in the URL of non-official ticket websites.

SB 350 - Electricity Reliability Act of 2019 - 2 year bill; still active in 2020
The rapid growth of Community Choice Aggregators, Direct Access providers, and Behind the Meter services has changed the retail electricity market. A key focus for the state going forward will be how state regulators will ensure long-term resource procurement for reliability in such a disaggregated market, while still meeting statewide goals for reliability, sustainability, and affordability. SB 350 would modify existing law to ensure that the CPUC could implement a multiyear central Resource Adequacy mechanism that includes a central procurement entity that could cover gaps in long-term contracting and ensure access to capital across market players.

SB 369 - Safe Parking Lots - 2 year bill; still active in 2020
More than 9,000 people are living in cars and recreational vehicles on any given night throughout the city of Los Angeles. So many of our most vulnerable are just one citation or one tow truck away from losing everything. SB 369 would establish a statewide definition for safe parking programs, and would expand eligibility for people to enroll in programs like the SMOG Assistance Program, as most individuals who find themselves living in their cars are often most unable to afford the fines and fees related to the upkeep of a vehicle.

SB 960 - Bail and Immigration Consumer Protection Act of 2020
SB 960 strengthens protections for vulnerable California consumers by making it clear that consumer financial protection laws apply to all bail and immigration bond companies.

2019 Legislation

On December 3, 2018, new members of the California State Senate were sworn in and the 2019-20 Legislative Session began. Throughout 2019, Senator Hertzberg authored a number of bills that fine tune water and energy policy, seek consumer protections for Californians, and improve on his prior legislative efforts. Read more about his bills that were signed into law below:

SB 36 - Pretrial Risk Assessment Data & Accountability
SB 36 requires each court or county that uses a pretrial risk assessment tool to maintain individualized data regarding the tool’s inputs and outcomes, as well as any associated recommendations to the court. This measure ensures that risk assessment tools are thoroughly evaluated to ensure effectiveness in mitigating risk while minimizing biases and disparate results based on race, ethnicity, gender, economic circumstances, and behavioral or developmental disability.

SB 41 - Equity in Civil Damage Awards
SB 41 prohibits consideration of a plaintiff’s race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation in the calculation of monetary damage awards in civil damage awards.

SB 51 - Cannabis Banking - 2 year bill; still active in 2020
SB 51 would create a limited-purpose, state-chartered bank license that would be administered and regulated by the Department of Business Oversight. Privately-funded banks that receive this charter would be able to provide limited banking services to licensed cannabis and cannabis-related businesses. This bill is a follow-up attempt to SB 930 (Hertzberg, 2018), which was held by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

SB 63 - For-Profit College Student Tax Relief
SB 63 ensures students impacted by the recent closures of Brightwood Colleges and Art Institutes across California are not penalized for the failure of the for-profit college. This bill ensures that federal loan debt assistance is not considered “gross income” for tax purposes.

SB 134 - Long-Term Water Use Efficiency
In 2018, SB 606 (Hertzberg, 2018) was signed into law, establishing, for the first time, permanent long-term water use efficiency standards and goals across the state. SB 134 establishes certain clarifications for urban water suppliers. 

SB 192 - Posse Comitatus
Previously, it was a misdemeanor for any able-bodied person over the age of 18 to neglect or refuse to join a posse called by a peace officer. SB 192 abolished this outdated and unnecessary crime from California law.

SB 205Stormwater Quality Improvement Act
SB 205 diminishes water pollution by requiring applicable industrial facilities to demonstrate compliance with the Industrial General Permit (IGP) when applying for their business license or renewal. This standardizes the filing process for all facilities subject to an IGP, encouraging uniformity with water quality requirements, and would bolster California’s efforts to keep harmful pollutants out of precious water sources.

SB 229 - Whistleblower Protections
This bill builds on protections created by SB 306 (Hertzberg, 2017) to strengthen due process for workers who have reported illegal activity in the workplace.

SB 254 - Resilient Homes Initiative - 2 year bill; still active in 2020
SB 254 requires the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) to identify operational savings and immediately invest them in proactive mitigation efforts - like residential retrofitting - that will improve California’s resilience against the next major earthquake. 

SB 258Supporting Both Ends of the Leash - Enacted as part of 2019-20 California State Budget
This bill makes $5,000,000 available, to homeless shelters to serve the needs of pets for people experiencing homelessness, such as shelter, food, and basic veterinary services. When we make accommodations for pets, we support both ends of the leash by bringing individuals into shelters who otherwise would not seek wraparound care.

SB 265Commitment to Child Hunger Prevention
Under previous law, when a school meal debt owed by a student's parent or guardian went unpaid, schools often denied the student lunch, or offered them an alternative, essentially publicly shaming the child. SB 250 (Hertzberg, 2017) made that practice illegal, but some schools are still maintaining policies that discriminate against children because they didn’t have lunch money that day. SB 265 ensures that meal charge policies established by school officials do not delay or deny food, or provide an alternative meal to punish students.

SB 342 - Trusted Ticketing - 2 year bill; still active in 2020
Dishonest marketing companies often manipulate internet searches by using the venue or artist name to bait consumers into believing they are purchasing the lowest-priced tickets directly from a venue, when that is not the case. SB 342 would prohibit the use of specific team names, leagues, venues, events, performances, or other trademarks in the URL of non-official ticket websites.

SB 389Mental Health Services Act for Parolees 
The Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) currently prohibits using funds for certain treatment services for state parolees. Should members of this population suffer from a mental health crisis that goes untreated, they could be at greater risk of recidivism and potential harm to themselves or to the community. SB 389 amends the MHSA to authorize counties to use money from the MHSA to provide services to people who are participating in a presentencing or post sentencing diversion program or who are on parole, probation, post release community supervision, or mandatory supervision.

SB 438 - EMS Dispatch Services
Some efforts to privatize public services, such as law enforcement, fire protection, and emergency medical response, along with the dispatch of such services, have resulted in increased costs to citizens, a reduction in services provided, and in some cases a failure to deliver timely services. SB 438 prohibits a public agency from outsourcing its local emergency dispatch services to a private, for-profit entity – except when pursuant to a joint powers or cooperative agreement.

SB 520 - Electricity Safety Net 
SB 520 establishes a safety net for electricity customers, ensuring that service continues without disruption or extreme price shocks in the event that an electricity provider exits the market for any reason. 

SB 671Wage Payment for Print Media Employees
SB 671 harmonizes existing law regarding payment of wages to short-term entertainment industry employees by allowing employers to pay individuals hired for print media photo shoots on the next scheduled pay day, rather than the last day of employment. This will bring the payment timeline for employees working in print media photo shoots into alignment with those in other short-term, assignment-based employment relationships.

SB 743Design-Build Contracting for School Districts
SB 743 clarifies stages of the design-build project delivery method to assist school districts in achieving their environmental and project goals. This clarity harmonizes the environmental review process with the recognized economic benefits afforded to school districts by utilizing the design-build contract.


2018 Legislation

In 2018, Senator Hertzberg pioneered legislation that moves the pendulum on criminal justice reform, energy efficiency and protecting our environment. Here's a quick list of some of Sen. Hertzberg's bills that were passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor into law:

SB 10 - Bail Reform
After two years of research, stakeholder collaboration, and negotiations, the Legislature passed SB 10 and Governor Brown signed it into law. SB 10 eliminates the predatory commercial bail system and replaces it with a system based on public safety risk and judicial discretion - not wealth - to determine whether an individual will detained pretrial. You can read more about SB 10 and its implementation on the California Courts' website.

AB 375 - California Consumer Privacy Act
Recent data breaches that affected millions have raised concerns from Internet users around the world. The continued prevalence of such occurrences and uncertainty about what data is being collected has drawn the ire of consumer and public interest groups. So with Assemblymember Ed Chau, we passed the strongest consumer privacy data protection law in the nation. AB 375 gives consumers the ability to know what data is being collected about them online, and even to delete it. When it goes into effect in 2020, it will also empower consumers to decline the sale of their information and report violations.

SB 237 - Greater Electricity Choice for Businesses (Direct Access)
As California's clean energy economy evolves, utility customers are seeking greater choice in how they obtain electricity, sometimes opting to choose electricity service separate from their local utility. SB 237 lifts an existing cap on such transactions for non-residential customers, allowing California businesses (like universities, hospitals, and grocery stores) to make cost-effective energy decisions while also providing them with options to meet, or exceed, the state's renewable energy goals.

SB 606 - Water Efficiency as a California Way of Life
Along with a broad coalition of water districts, environmental groups, and local governments throughout California, we developed SB 606 to establish, for the first time, permanent water efficiency standards and goals across the state to be met by 2026.

SB 838 - Blockchain Stock Certificates
With technology rapidly changing and improving, the tech industry - especially in Los Angeles - is developing all kinds of improvements to help business and government run better. SB 838 allows a forward thinking way of doing business by giving California corporations the option to issue and transfer stock certificates on the blockchain.

SB 913 - Graffiti Busters
My office partnered with local organizations, including the LA Beautification Team, Northeast Graffiti Busters, and Koreatown Youth+ Community Center, along with local labor unions to pass SB 913. This bill ensures that the City of Los Angeles can continue to fund and operate volunteer-run graffiti abatement programs, which comprise a large portion of all the graffiti abatement work being done in the Los Angeles area.

SB 931 - Conservatorship Proceedings
In California today, too many mentally ill individuals languish in jail. Under existing law, severely mentally ill individuals who could be eligible for a psychiatric evaluation for a conservatorship may not receive one because of their custody status. SB 931 specifies that a person's custody status can't be used as the sole reason for delaying their evaluation for a conservatorship, paving the way for them to access needed services.

SB 1001 - B.O.T Act of 2018
The B.O.T. Act makes it illegal for automated accounts on online platforms to knowingly deceive or mislead a person in order to influence a commercial transaction or to influence a vote in an election. Under SB 1001, bots must be clearly identified as bots online. We even created a bot, @Bot_Hertzberg, to show how these accounts can be helpful and informative - when properly labeled.

SB 1007 - Veteran's Reinvestment Tax Exemption
SB 1007 waives state and local taxes for charitable organizations that donate military and veteran medical facilities to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for operation on federal land in California.

SB 1147 - Oil Bankruptcies
Recent oil bankruptcies have left the state on the hook to decommission two abandoned offshore oil and gas sites in California. With this in mind, I introduced SB 1147, which requires the state to increase bonding amounts when negotiating leases or re-leases for offshore oil and gas operators. This means that if an offshore oil rig becomes defunct, the cost of decommissioning it would be on the operator, not the taxpayers.

SB 1215 - Safe & Sustainable Wastewater Management
In the past few years, our state has made miles of progress to ensure all communities receive safe drinking water. We decided now was the time to address our neighbors' wastewater needs as well. SB 1215 authorizes extension of sanitary sewer service to communities with failing onsite sewage treatment systems.


2017 Legislation

Read about some of the 2017 legislation authored by Sen. Bob Hertzberg:

SB 10 - Bail Reform
(2 year bill; Chaptered 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.

SB 61 - Emergency Food for Families Tax Check-Off
(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.

SB 185 - Reducing Traffic Fines & Fees and Drivers License Suspensions
(2 year bill; 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.

SB 231 - Stormwater Stewardship
(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.

SB 237 - Driver License Suspensions Remedy
(Not passed; action was 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.

SB 250 - Child Hunger Prevention and Fair Treatment Act of 2017
(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.

SB 306 - Whistleblower and Worker Protections
(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.

SB 313 - Automatic Renewal Purchases
(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. 

SB 440 - Breast Cancer and Cancer Research Voluntary Tax Check-offs
(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.

SB 450 - Truth in Public Borrowing Act
(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.

SB 588 - Rigs to Reefs
(2 year bill; 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.

SB 606 - Water Efficiency as a California Way of Life
(2 year bill; 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.

SB 614 - Fair Enforcement of Fare Evasion
(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.


2016 Legislation

Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) worked on legislation in 2016 to help California better manage its precious resources, modernize its government and become a 21st century model of democracy, opportunity and justice. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the following bills into law. 

SB 936 - Helping Small Businesses
Small businesses are the backbone of California’s economy. That’s why California created the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program more than 40 years ago. The program helps make private loans available to small businesses that can’t qualify for regular bank loans by backing them up with state money. Since it started, it has guaranteed more than 30,000 loans. This is especially helpful in economically distressed areas, where small business loans are tougher to obtain. This year, Sen. Hertzberg helped expand this program by passing legislation (SB 936) adopting the federal standard for leveraging the financing, meaning less state money is needed to guarantee the loans and that means the state can back more private loans with the money it has. For more information about the loans or how to apply for them, visit the website for the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, known as I-Bank, or contact Sen. Hertzberg's office. 

SB 820 - Pushing Cleanup, and Redevelopment, of Hazardous Waste Sites  
California has 90,000 contaminated properties. Many are in urban areas, where they depress values of surrounding property and create blight. One way to improve communities and generate economic activity is to encourage the development of these hazardous waste sites. That’s why Sen. Hertzberg passed legislation (SB 820) this year that allows 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. For example, the city of Carson is working to redevelop a 157-acre site once used as a landfill into a regional shopping destination. My legislation will help the city attract developers after initial remediation and spur economic development.

SB 450 - Making Voting More Convenient and Modern
Doesn’t it seem ludicrous that in 2016 people are forced to cast a ballot on a single day at a single location for an election? You can stream a movie over the internet or deposit a check with your phone at any time, but we still hold elections like it’s 1950. That’s going to change in coming elections, thanks to legislation (SB 450) Sen. Hertzberg worked on with Sen. Ben Allen. Under the new system, every voter will be mailed a vote-by-mail ballot, vote centers will replace neighborhood polling places and voting for an election will take place for 10 days, which covers two weekends, preceding the election date. That will make it easier, and more convenient, for busy Californians to participate and improve voter turnout.

SB 1137 - Punishing Ransomware as a Serious Crime
In February, a ransomware attack on the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center jeopardized patient care and prompted the hospital to pay a $17,000 ransom in bitcoin to restore access to its computer system. Unfortunately, that was not one isolated incident. This year, ransomware attacks have skyrocketed and become increasingly sophisticated, hitting hospitals, health care organizations and other major institutions. That’s why Sen. Hertzberg worked with Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey to pass legislation (SB 1137) clarifying that infecting computers with ransomware is a form of extortion and that a person engaged in the activity could be convicted of a felony and imprisoned up to four years.

SB 494 - Moving Ahead with Creating an Early Earthquake Warning System
Earthquake science is advancing rapidly, and now we know California is at great risk of experiencing a major earthquake within the next 30 years. While Japan, Mexico and other countries have put into place early earthquake warning systems to give their residents a few seconds warning before a temblor hits, California has lagged behind on developing one because it has tried to fund it privately. Legislation (SB 494) that Sen. Hertzberg worked on with Sen. Jerry Hill creates the California Earthquake Safety Fund to be used for the state to fund seismic safety and the early warning system. Gov. Jerry Brown has directed $10 million to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) in the 2016-17 state budget to further expand the state's earthquake early warning system prototype, called ShakeAlert. Sen. Hertzberg hopes this can be up and running – and saving lives – within a few years.

SB 380 - Safeguarding the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility
The Aliso Canyon gas leak began on Oct. 23, 2015 and continued for almost four months. As a result, nearly 100,000 tons of methane was released into the skies above the San Fernando Valley. The leak sickened thousands of residents of Porter Ranch and surrounding communities and more than 8,000 families were forced to leave their homes. Legislation that Sen. Hertzberg worked on with Sen. Fran Pavley (SB 380) and was enacted in May ensures that no new injections of gas into the storage facility can take place until all wells have undergone testing to detect leaks, any wells to be used to resume injections must undergo four additional tests of their structural integrity and be certified as safe, and that wells that have not been fully tested and certified must be temporarily plugged and isolated from the facility.

SB 1349 - Upgrading California’s Website Providing Campaign Finance and Lobbying Information  
Transparency is crucial to a vibrant democracy. California was once at the forefront of providing transparency, when it launched its Cal-Access website in 2000 so voters could find campaign finance and lobbying disclosures online. But it has not been significantly changed or upgraded since, and it is now an antiquated, user unfriendly system that is unstable and prone to outages. Sen. Hertzberg passed legislation (SB 1349) to overhaul the system and use the latest technology to make it quick and easy to search. Separately, Sen. Hertzberg pursued funding through the budget process, and the 2016-17 budget signed by the governor includes $1.8 million for the Secretary of State to advance this project.  

SB 1476 - Improving Accountability and Oversight of Tax Checkoffs
In December 2015, Sen. Hertzberg held a legislative hearing in which he learned that the tax checkoff contributions that people designate on their state tax returns could take years to reach the intended recipient and sometimes money that wasn’t spent reverted to the state general fund, instead of going to the intended program. As a result, he authored legislation (SB 1476) to improve accountability and transparency of tax checkoff contributions. In particular, the measure requires the 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.

SB 405 - Speeding Up Traffic Amnesty 
Hundreds of thousands of struggling Californians have been caught in a difficult – and entirely unfair -- situation when receiving traffic tickets with fines and fees running hundreds of dollars they can’t afford to pay. A simple, unpaid traffic ticket led many to lose their driver’s licenses and face even greater sanctions, turning their lives upside down. Sen. Hertzberg addressed this problem with legislation in 2015 (SB 405) that helped establish a traffic amnesty program that allowed 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 the first nine months of that program, more than 175,000 Californians have received amnesty fine and fee reductions and more than 153,000 Californians have had their suspended driver’s licenses reinstated. But some courts have been slow to respond to amnesty requests, so Sen. Hertzberg authored legislation in 2016 (SB 881) to require timely responses and all requests made by March 31, 2017 to be honored. 


2015 Legislation

Bills lowering traffic fines, protecting water supplies, helping workers become law in 2015

Making the traffic-fine process fairer, protecting California water supplies and providing incentives for attorneys to perform legal help for working residents are among the proposals by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law.

Below are the bills signed, a summary of each and a link to more information on the bill.

SB 405 – Driving Down Debt 
Citing the loss of the ability to drive as a threat to economic security – especially among working residents – this plan will improve court access by eliminating the requirement that all fines and penalties be paid before the driver can get a court hearing.

SB 272 – Local Government Data
Local governments will now create an inventory of their key data-keeping systems, make that catalog publicly available online and list the types of data collected by those systems. Cybersecurity systems and infrastructure-control systems are exempted.

SB 664 – Earthquake Preparedness for Water Infrastructure
Regional water-management officials will now assess the vulnerability of their water systems to an earthquake and publicly report that assessment as well as any mitigation plans.

SB 621 – Mental Health and Public Safety 
This measure clarifies that counties can apply for Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant funds to pay for diversion programs that reduce recidivism of non-violent mentally ill offenders.

SB 540 – Taxpayer Advocate  
Makes permanent a soon-to-expire taxpayer-advocate program to help ensure taxpayers who are overcharged by the state Franchise Tax Board can receive assistance and refunds.

SB 239 – Contracts for Fire Protection
This proposal will ensure residents and public officials have an opportunity to examine plans, costs and other financial estimates before local governments provide new or extended fire-protection services. 

SB 134 – Public Interest Attorney Loan Forgiveness
In an effort to help ensure low-income Californians have greater access to equal justice, this bill allows the use of certain unclaimed funds to help pay off loans for attorneys practicing public-interest law.

SB 697 – Accountability Act
This good-government bill will increase accountability and transparency in the Public Utilities Commission.