Legislature Returns to Sacramento for Second Year of 2021-22 Session
The California State Senate and Assembly returned to the State Capitol in Sacramento on Monday to resume the second half of the 2021-22 Legislative Session. Lawmakers hit the ground running, introducing a raft of new bills and amending previously introduced, two-year measures.
Notably, on Monday, Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego County announced her resignation from the Legislature, effective Wednesday. Gonzalez indicated she will take the helm of the California Labor Federation in July upon the retirement of current executive secretary-treasurer Art Pulaski. Assembly Member Gonzalez is widely recognized as a strong labor advocate, and she held the powerful chair position of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Following Gonzalez’s resignation, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced several changes to committee leadership. Assembly Member Chris Holden of Los Angeles County has now been named the chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Even as lawmakers returned to Sacramento, they continue to grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Senate Minority Leader Scott Wilk reported he tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, and Assembly Member Miguel Santiago indicated his two young children at home also tested positive for the virus.
Then, on Thursday, nearly three dozen lawmakers were absent from Senate and Assembly Floor Sessions after many were exposed to COVID-19. Senator Josh Becker tested positive for the virus on Wednesday morning, causing at least a dozen members to enter quarantine, including Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. Other lawmakers were similarly isolating or quarantining due to the virus, including Assembly Member Tasha Boerner Horvath who tested positive over the legislative recess and Senator Steve Glazer who was exposed to a staff member with COVID-19.
As cases surged in both California and the country, pandemic impacts, including cases from the Omicron variant, are expected to be realized amongst the Capitol community over the coming weeks.
As a reminder, lawmakers have until the end of the month to advance measures introduced in the house of origin during the odd-numbered year. As such, legislators will be diligently working to secure final amendments, present bills in committees, and attempt to get their bill to the next house by the upcoming deadline.
Looking ahead, Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday will unveil his FY 2022-23 January Budget, detailing proposed investments and expenditures in the upcoming year. California is anticipated to realize a historic budget surplus again this year, providing the Administration and lawmakers an opportunity to make transformative investments in numerous subject areas.
Below, we highlight several bills of interest to CHEAC Members. For a full update, our first CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart of 2022 is available here.
Animal Care & Control
AB 702 (Santiago) as Amended January 3, 2022 – Watch w/ Concerns
AB 702 by Assembly Member Miguel Santiago was significantly amended early this week. The measure, as amended, enacts the Dog and Cat Bill of Rights and defines “proper care and attention” relative to dogs and cats. The measure would require every public animal control agency, shelter, or rescue group to post a copy of the Dog and Cat Bill of Rights. AB 702 will be heard in the Assembly Business & Professions Committee at a later date, and the CHEAC Legislative Committee will soon be reviewing the bill’s most recent amendments.
AB 93 (E. Garcia) as amended January 4, 2022 – Watch w/ Concerns
Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia’s AB 93 was amended this week to refine provisions relative to emergency response structures. AB 93, as amended, would, during a state of emergency or health emergency, require the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Medical and Health Coordination Center (MHCC) to include federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in the organizational response structure established by OES. Additionally, the California Health and Human Services Agency is required to maintain an annual inventory of PPE and related supplies in state stockpiles. CDPH is additionally tasked with conducting a statewide comprehensive plan for outreach and education relative to COVID-19. AB 93 will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee next Tuesday.
Health Coverage/Health Care Reform
AB 1400 (Kalra) as introduced February 19, 2021 – Special Interest Bill
Of note, movement on AB 1400 occurred when the Assembly Rules Committee referred the measure for hearing to the Assembly Health Committee. Recall, AB 1400 would create the California Guaranteed Health Care for All Act, or CalCare, to provide health care coverage to all California residents, regardless of citizenship status. CalCare defines a set of comprehensive health care benefits, including long-term services and supports, mental health, and substance use disorder benefits.
AB 1400 will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday. Assembly Member Jim Wood, Chair of the Health Committee, has signaled he intends to advance the bill from his committee. In a press statement, Wood indicated, “I continue to feel the frustration, desperation, and quite frankly, the anger that many Californians experience in their efforts to access quality and affordable health care. … Something’s got to give, so next Tuesday, I’ll be voting for change.”
Assembly Member Ash Kalra and others convened a press conference on Thursday to unveil the measure’s companion, ACA 11, to fund the sweeping proposal. ACA 11 has yet to be reviewed by the CHEAC Legislative Committee. The measure proposes imposing additional excise, payroll, and income taxes to support universal health care coverage.