LYNN LA • MAY 10, 2023
If you’re the author or supporter of a bill before the California Legislature, this is one list you dread: While getting sent to the “suspense file” doesn’t seal a measure’s fate, it does put it at some risk of being killed for the year.
Leading up to the big suspense file decision day next week, the Assembly and Senate appropriations committees are putting together lists of bills — and lots of high-profile ones are on them. Here’s a selection:
- SB 691: Require dyslexia risk screening in public schools.
- AB 91: Offer debt-free community college for students who live close to Mexico border.
- SB 760: Require all-gender restrooms in every school by July 2025.
Environment and climate change:
- SB 252: Wind down investments in fossil fuel companies from pension funds for state employees and teachers.
- SB 253: Require large corporations to disclose greenhouse gas emissions.
- SB 261: Require companies with $500 million in revenue to prepare climate financial risk reports.
Labor and the economy:
- AB 518: Extend paid family leave to care for LGBTQ partners.
- SB 497: Protect workers who report labor violations from being fired, bullied or harassed.
- SB 616: Extend paid sick leave from three days to seven.
- SB 627: Require large retail chains to give 60-day notice of closings and grant transfer rights to employees.
- AB 92: Ban most civilians from owning bullet-resistant body armor.
- AB 742: Ban the use of police dogs for arrests and crowd control.
- AB 881: Increase juror pay in criminal cases for low-income people from $15 to $100 a day.
Reproductive rights and health care:
- AB 315: Stop crisis pregnancy centers from advertising misleading information.
- SB 36: Protect out-of-state individuals from criminal prosecution when they seek reproductive or gender-affirming care in California.
- SB 525: Raise the minimum wage for health care workers to $25 an hour.
A reminder of how the suspense file process works: Twice a year, the two appropriations committees bulldoze their way through hundreds of bills that include more than negligible spending and that they must consider before the end of the legislative session.
In May, the committees go rapid-fire through bills from their own house. In August, legislators will cull bills that have passed from the other house. Last year, they killed about 200 on each day of marathon hearings.
Holding a bill in the suspense file is a convenient way for lawmakers to essentially kill a bill, without a recorded vote or explanation. That’s particularly useful on controversial measures, where a public vote or comment could be weaponized against legislators in campaign ads.
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