Legislative Committees Meet Two-Year Bill Deadline

The California State Senate and Assembly continue to ramp up their activities for the second year of the 2021-22 Legislative Session. Today, the Legislature met the deadline for any committee to hear and report to the floor bills introduced in that house in the odd-numbered year. These two-year bills face a limited window to remain in play as lawmakers must advance these measures to the next house by the end of the month.

To meet today’s deadline, Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees held Suspense File hearings for two-year bills. Both committees had relatively short agendas, and we highlight some of the CHEAC-tracked measures that went through the Suspense File below. Lawmakers additionally faced a deadline today to submit bill requests to the Office of Legislative Counsel who will ultimately draft the bill language to meet the Legislature’s February 18 deadline to introduce bills.

In other legislative news this week, Senator Richard Pan announced this week the formation of a Vaccine Work Group to develop “cohesive and comprehensive, evidence-based policies to strengthen our ability to stop the spread of COVID and other diseases while battling misinformation.” In addition to Senator Pan, the six other Democratic lawmakers include Senators Scott Wiener and Josh Newman and Assembly Members Akilah Weber, Buffy Wicks, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, and Evan Low. While the group has not yet introduced any specific bills, several lawmakers continue to explore the potential of removing the personal belief exemption at schools for vaccines against COVID-19. The Vaccine Work Group will examine data, hear from experts, and engage stakeholders on the best approaches to promoting vaccines that have been proven to reduce serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.

Also of note, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins announced Senate leadership changes. Senator Bob Hertzberg will transition from Majority Leader of the Senate to Majority Leader Emeritus after announcing his candidacy for the Board of Supervisors of Los Angeles County. Senator Mike McGuire, who was previously Assistant Majority Leader, was promoted to the Majority Leader position. Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman was subsequently named Assistant Majority Leader of the Senate.

The latest edition of the CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart is available here. Below, we highlight a handful of measures of interest to CHEAC Members.

Communicable Disease Control

AB 93 (E. Garcia) as amended January 12, 2022 – WATCH WITH CONCERNS

Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia’s AB 93 was heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee this week. The measure would 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 CalOES. AB 93 would also require CalHHS to maintain inventory of PPE, and CDPH to develop a statewide, outreach and education campaign on COVID-19 topics. The measure was placed on the Assembly Appropriations Suspense File where it was ultimately held under submission, rendering the bill dead for the remainder of the legislative session.

Health Coverage/Health Care Reform

AB 1400 (Kalra) as introduced February 19, 2021 – SPECIAL INTEREST BILL

Assembly Member Ash Kalra’s AB 1400 cleared a major hurdle this week as it was advanced out of Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 11-3 vote with one member not voting. The measure creates the California Guaranteed Health Care Act for All, or CalCare, to provide health coverage to all California residents, regardless of citizenship status. CalCare defines a comprehensive set of health care benefits, including long-term services and supports and mental health and substance use treatment services, and will not charge premiums, deductibles, or copays for services. Amendments to the measure are forthcoming to tie the bill to ACA 11 (Kalra) which would provide the funding mechanism for the sweeping initiative. The measure now moves to the Assembly Floor.

Public Health Emergency Preparedness

AB 805 (Maienschein) as introduced February 16, 2021 – WATCH WITH CONCERNS

AB 805 by Brian Maienschein was heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee this week. The measure, sponsored by the California Nurses Association (CNA), would require MHOACs to report specified personal protective equipment (PPE) data weekly to CalOES during any health-related state of emergency in California. At all other times, MHOACs would be required to report PPE data on a monthly basis. AB 805 was held on the Appropriations Committee Suspense File and will not move forward for the remainder of the legislative session.