Legislature Wraps Up Busy Week of Policy Committee Hearings

This week in Sacramento was marked by a flurry of legislative activities in both the State Senate and Assembly as lawmakers present and hear measures in policy committees. Lawmakers engaged in a steady pace of policy committee hearings as they work toward a 10-day Spring Recess set to begin next Thursday, April 7.

Of note this week, Assembly Member Buffy Wicks put a pause on AB 1993 which would require employers to require each employee or independent contractor to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. AB 1993 was set to be heard in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on Tuesday, but the measure was pulled from the agenda one day prior to the hearing. Assembly Member Wicks explained her decision via Twitter, indicating in part that “we’re now in a new and welcome chapter in this pandemic, with the virus receding for the moment” which provides an opportunity for the author to work with labor entities and employers that raised concerns over the bill. AB 1993 is part of a broader package of measures proposed by the “vaccine caucus,” a handful of Senators and Assembly Members with a strong interest in public health protections against COVID-19.

Recall, last week, legislative leaders pledged quick action on AB 2179 to extend pandemic-related eviction protections for residents who are participating in state rental assistance programs. The measure was advanced out of the Assembly on Tuesday and received final approval from the Senate today. Acting Governor Eleni Kounalakis, shortly after the bill’s passage, signed the measure into law, becoming the first woman in state history to sign a piece of legislation into law. Governor Gavin Newsom departed California yesterday for a family vacation in Central and South America; the Newsoms are set to return to California on April 12.

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

Communicable Disease Control

SB 1479 (Pan) as amended March 21, 2022 – SUPPORT

SB 1479 by Senator Richard Pan would require CDPH to continue and expand COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools, preschools, and childcare centers. The measure would also require LEAs to create a COVID-19 testing plan aligned to CDPH guidance and designate staff to report data to CDPH as well as the school district. SB 1479 was heard on Wednesday in the Senate Health Committee and advanced on a 9-2 vote. The measure now moves to the Senate Education Committee.

Health Coverage/Health Care Reform

SB 967 (Hertzberg) as introduced February 10, 2022 – SUPPORT

Senator Robert Hertzberg’s SB 967 was heard in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday. This measure would require the Franchise Tax Board to provide a checkbox on individual income tax returns for taxpayers to indicate their interest in no-cost or low-cost health care coverage. Covered California would be required to annually outreach for enrollment efforts to individuals expressing interest. SB 967 was unanimously advanced to the Senate Government and Finance Committee on a 11-0 vote.

SB 1473 (Pan) as amended March 10, 2022 – SUPPORT

SB 1473 authored by Senator Richard Pan, would extend the Covered California (Exchange) enrollment program period for health care coverage to November 1 through January 31. Enrollment occurring prior to December 31 would begin coverage starting January 1, and if enrollment occurs after January 1, coverage should begin February 1. SB 1473 was heard in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday and was advanced out of the committee on consent.

LHD Administration & Simplification

AB 2381 (Daly) as amended March 4, 2022 – SUPPORT

Assembly Member Tom Daly’s AB 2381 was heard in the Assembly Judiciary on Tuesday. AB 2381 would establish an address confidentiality program for code enforcement officers, public health officers, and public health workers, and others. This measure was passed from the Assembly Judiciary Committee to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 10-0 vote.