By Emily Hoeven
In some ways, the suspense file that state lawmakers churned through on Thursday — a lengthy list of hundreds of bills that they either silently sent to their death or let survive another day — didn’t live up to its reputation.
That’s because the secretive, twice-annual process — which allows legislators to shelve bills they deem too expensive, as well as those that may be politically inconvenient or strongly opposed by powerful interest groups — left undecided some of the most highly anticipated battles of the legislative session.
More than 200 bills met their doom on Thursday in the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees, including those that would have allowed prosecutors to sue social media companies for intentionally addicting kids to their products, capped insulin copays for diabetic patients, called for increased carbon sequestration in California’s lands, phased out online retailers’ use of plastic packaging, forced gun owners to buy liability insurance and required police agencies to let the public listen to their radio transmissions, Ben Christopher and the rest of the CalMatters team report.
And although a pay transparency bill advanced, its most significant provision — to force the public reporting of company pay data broken down by position, race, and gender — was eliminated.
But the suspense isn’t over for a slew of controversial bills among the more than 600 that made it through, setting lawmakers up for contentious public votes with the end of the legislative session less than three weeks away — and the Nov. 8 general election less than three months away.
The proposals could also put Gov. Gavin Newsom in a precarious political position if they land on his desk: Newsom, who in recent months has been steadily elevating his national profile in what some have interpreted as groundwork for a future presidential run, declined to comment Thursday on whether he plans to sign a contentious bill lawmakers sent him last week that would permit Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to launch trial supervised drug injection sites.
- Democratic strategist Roger Salazar told Politico: “You don’t want to go over that progressive waterfall. You want to keep going down that stream but you don’t want to go too far and then end up crashing.”
Here’s a look at some of the bills that could present Democratic lawmakers and Newsom with especially complex political conundrums. They would:
- Decriminalize certain psychedelic drugs.
- Limit solitary confinement in prisons, jails and private immigration detention facilities.
- Tighten California’s concealed carry gun law.
- Restrict prosecutors’ ability to seek either the death penalty or life without parole for some accomplices in certain felony murders.
- Classify as unprofessional conduct physicians and surgeons’ dissemination of COVID “misinformation or disinformation.”
- Require school districts to have COVID testing plans.
- Expand online privacy protections for youth.
- Protect out-of-state families seeking gender-affirming care for their transgender children in California.
- Create a framework to force severely mentally ill Californians into treatment and housing.
- Allow the state to negotiate wages, hours and work conditions for the entire fast-food industry.
- Increase payments from the state’s paid family leave program for lower-wage workers, starting in 2024.
- Permit farmworkers to vote by mail in union elections.
- Allow legislative staffers to unionize.
- Speed up affordable housing construction.
- Give certain cities the green light to allow eligible bars, restaurants and nightclubs to sell liquor until 4 a.m., instead of the previous 2 a.m. cutoff.
- Legalize human composting.