Legislature Reconvenes with Ambitious Agenda

This week, the Legislature reconvened under compressed timelines and very busy calendars. Complicating things a bit, there appears to be some irritability between the houses as the Senate, with the lion’s share of bills to consider, has opted to not hear several Assembly passed bills. Assembly Speaker Rendon cancelled several hearings on Tuesday in response. However, many committees proceeded with their scheduled hearings, though their dockets were considerably slimmer than in session’s past.

Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Speaker Anthony Rendon, along with their top leaders, announced a proposal on Monday for a $100 million stimulus plan that includes “future tax vouchers,” counts on additional unemployment insurance borrowing from the federal government, expands tax credits for low-income earners, and offers help for small businesses. Meanwhile, several democrats, led by Assembly Member Miguel Santiago, unveiled a competing proposal to add several new income tax surcharges on California’s high earners, raising up to $6.8 billion, in order to provide additional funding for schools, health services, unemployment benefits, and other needed investments.

Convening yesterday, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #4 on State Administration examined unemployment insurance payment delays. Members of the committee blasted the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) response to the deluge of unemployment claims that have swamped the department since the beginning of the pandemic. Tearful testimony was provided by many Californians who have been trying for months to obtain unemployment benefits. Reports indicate up to one million claims have yet to be processed, and legislators’ offices have been deluged with complaints from their constituents for months about delays. On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the creation of a strike team to look at both technology improvements at EDD as well as improvements for processing claims in a timely manner.

Legislative policy committee hearings have begun in earnest, including the Senate Health Committee meeting this weekend, and will run through mid-August.

CHEAC will continue to keep its members posted with the latest information as it becomes available. The latest version of the CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart is available here.