Assembly Resumes In-Person Legislative Activities, Legislature Faces Modified Processes

On Monday, the California State Assembly returned to Sacramento following its unprecedented emergency recess in March in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we highlighted last week, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon ordered a series of modifications at the Capitol to ensure public health and safety, including health screening and controlled movement within the Capitol building, to mitigate risks of COVID-19 transmission. Several policy committee hearings were convened this week in the Assembly Chambers with remote witness testimony via videoconference or telephone, public comment via telephone, and limited in-person public admission.

Similarly, with the Senate set to return on Monday, May 11, Senate President pro Tempore detailed a number of modifications, including limited in-person staff attendance, no floor sessions, health screenings for visitors, and coordinated movement to committee rooms.

Looking ahead, the Legislature faces significantly modified processes relative to budget and policy committee hearings, deadlines, and stakeholder and public engagement. Both the Senate and Assembly will have limited committee hearings between now and May 29 with many committees convening only one hearing for a limited number of bills.

Relatedly, at the direction of legislative leaders, lawmakers have shelved a number of measures given compressed legislative timelines and budgetary conditions. CHEAC continues to engage with legislator offices regarding their intent to move forward with certain measures. As indicated on this week’s CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart, we have noted both measures that will not be moving forward this year and measures that will be dropped from the bill chart due to limited staff capacity. Below, we highlight several updates and new bills added to the bill chart this week.

Public Health Workforce

AB 3224 (Rodriguez) as amended May 4, 2020 – SUPPORT

CHEAC’s sponsored measure, AB 3224 by Assembly Member Freddie Rodriguez, was significantly amended this week. Recall, the measure was previously related to local health department (LHD) sexually transmitted disease (STD) navigation services. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and projected budget challenges, the measure has since been amended to require the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to contract with an entity to conduct an evaluation of the adequacy of LHD infrastructure throughout the state, including future staffing, workforce, and resource needs. CDPH is also required to convene an advisory group to oversee the process of selecting an evaluation entity and to provide oversight and technical assistance to the entity. An evaluation report is due to the Legislature on or before July 1, 2022. The measure will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on May 18.

Communicable Disease Control

SB 932 (Wiener) as amended May 5, 2020 – OPPOSE

Senator Scott Wiener recently significantly amended SB 932 to require CDPH and local health officers to collect sexual orientation and gender identity data from individuals diagnosed with COVID-19. CHEAC has joined the Health Officers Association of California (HOAC) in opposing the measure due to the significant workload and resources required of the potential mandate amid the ongoing public health emergency.

Environmental Health

AB 3336 (Carrillo) as amended on May 4, 2020 – WATCH

Assembly Member Wendy Carrillo’s AB 3336 would add to the definition of “food handler” in the California Retail Food Code an individual who transports or delivers ready-to-eat food from a food facility for a third-party delivery service. Third-party food delivery food handlers would be required to obtain a valid food handler card, ensure food is protected from contamination, and maintain potentially hazardous foods at required holding temperatures. Bags and containers used for transport would also be required to be tamper-evident prior to the food handler taking possession of the items at the food facility. The measure further specifies that enforcement officers may recover from a third-party food delivery service reasonable costs associated with enforcing the requirements against food handlers. The measure is sponsored by the California Association of Environmental Health Administrators (CAEHA) and will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on May 18.

Tobacco Control

SB 793 (Hill) as amended on May 5, 2020 – SUPPORT

Senator Jerry Hill’s SB 793 would prohibit a tobacco retailer, including a tobacco retailer’s agents or employees, from selling any flavored tobacco product or a tobacco product flavor enhancer. The prohibition includes mint and menthol products and sets forth violation penalties. SB 793 will be heard in the Senate Health Committee on May 13.