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    CA Legislature weeds through key bills


    Lynn La  LYNN LA APRIL 20, 2023

    The state Legislature’s policy committees are buzzing with activity this week, hearing bills on topics including election reform, missing persons and chemicals in candy. Bills that require money will advance to their respective appropriations committee, where many will have to face the dreaded suspense file next month, which can stop a bill’s progress in its tracks.

    Let’s spin through some highlights:

    • Referendum reform: On Wednesday, the Assembly elections committee passed Assemblymember Isaac Bryan’s bill on referendum reform. Currently, companies can block policies they don’t like by qualifying ballot measures and putting it on voters to kill or uphold the laws. (Next year, voters will decide on two referenda related to the oil and fast food industries.) The Democrat from Culver City argues that industries abuse the referendum process and his bill aims to make the process more transparent and clear to voters.
    • Two strikes against fossil fuel: Two Democratic-led fossil fuel-related bills made it through the Senate judiciary committee this week. One, proposed by San Francisco Sen. Scott Wiener, wants to require large corporations that do business in California to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions. Business groups are pushing back, saying that because the measure mandates large corporations to disclose emissions throughout their entire supply chain, their partnerships with small and medium businesses would be jeopardized if these companies struggle to report their emissions. The other bill is from Long Beach Sen. Lena Gonzalez, which would wind down investments in fossil fuel companies from the pension funds for state employees and teachers. Opponents argue that the bill would reduce investment diversification and returns.
    • Missing Black youth: The National Crime Information Center reported that more than 77,000 Black girls ages 17 and under went missing in 2022. But missing Black children are disproportionately classified as “runaways,” according to the Black and Missing Foundation. To bring more attention and resources to missing Black youth, Sen. Steven Bradford, a Democrat from Gardena, wants to establish an “Ebony Alert,” which would trigger an Emergency Alert System for missing children and young people between the ages of 12 and 25 years old. On Tuesday, his bill passed the Senate public safety committee.
    • Ban on food chemicals: Also on Tuesday, the bill to ban Skittles (but not really), which the Assembly health committee approved last week, advanced out of the environmental safety and toxic materials committee. The proposal would actually ban the manufacturing, sale and distribution of food products in California that contain five food chemicals linked to cancer and behavioral problems in children. Several food and beverage companies oppose the bill, arguing that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and “many international scientific bodies” have reviewed the chemicals and deemed them safe.



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