Legislature Meets Two-Year Bill Deadline, Single-Payer Proposal Fails

On Monday, the California State Senate and Assembly met the deadline for two-year bills introduced in their house of origin last year to be advanced to the next house. Several high-profile measures awaited action on Monday, including bills related to health care and environmental health.

Of note, AB 1400 by Assembly Member Ash Kalra failed Monday’s two-year bill deadline after Kalra opted not to bring up the bill for a vote on the Assembly Floor. Recall, the measure would have created a comprehensive, universal single-payer health care coverage and health care cost control system in California. The measure garnered significant interest among advocates, the media, and progressive lawmakers. However, after it became clear that Kalra did not have enough votes for the measure to advance out of the Assembly, Karla did not act on the measure.

Kalra released a statement about his decision toward the end of Monday’s Assembly Floor Session, indicating, “Especially with four Democratic vacancies in the Assembly, the votes were not there today, but we will not give up.” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon similarly issued a statement expressing disappointment that the author did not bring up the bill for a vote on the Assembly Floor and indicating that he would have voted “yes” on the measure.

Kalra’s move to not bring up the bill for a vote followed a commitment from the California Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus last week to pull endorsements of lawmakers that voted “no” or did not support single-payer health care; despite the bill’s failure, the caucus maintains its commitment to pull endorsements of candidates opposed to single-payer. Relatedly, the California Nurses Association (CNA), sponsors of AB 1400, denounced the decision not to hold a vote, indicating that “Nurses are outraged that the California Assembly … gave up on patients across the state” by not voting on the measure. Ultimately, AB 1400 realized the same fate as previous attempts to establish a universal, single-payer system in California.

In other news this week, Assembly Member Autumn Burke of Los Angeles County announced her resignation from the Assembly, effective immediately. Burke cited the importance to “have the flexibility and ability to spend more time with” her family in her letter announcing her resignation.

Looking ahead on the legislative front, lawmakers have until February 18 to introduce new bills.

Below, we highlight a bill of interest to CHEAC Members. For a full update, the latest edition of the CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart is available here.

Environmental Health

AB 257 (Holden) as amended January 27, 2022 – OPPOSE UNLESS AMENDED

AB 257 by Assembly Member Chris Holden was advanced from the Assembly Floor on Monday on a 41-21 vote with 14 members not voting. AB 257 is a two-year bill and faced Monday’s deadline to remain in play for the second half of the 2021-22 Legislative Session. Recall, the measure would establish the Fast-Food Sector Council to set forth sector-wide minimum standards on wages, working hours, and working conditions adequate to ensure and maintain health, safety, and welfare of fast-food workers. The measure would require the council to conduct a full review of the adequacy of minimum standards at least once every three years and authorize specified local governments to establish a Local Fast Food Sector Council to provide direction to and coordinate with local enforcement agencies.

Recall, last week, CHEAC joined CAEHA, HOAC, and CSAC in an “oppose unless amended” position on the measure as local environmental health programs are not responsible for enforcement or oversight of labor or working conditions. During debate on AB 257 on the Assembly Floor on Monday, Assembly Member Holden acknowledged concerns with the measure, including those related to local environmental health programs, and expressed a commitment to working with stakeholders on potential amendments to the bill.

AB 257 advanced to the Senate where it awaits referral to committees. CHEAC will continue working closely with our county colleague associations on the measure.