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Early June is like halftime in California’s legislative session. It’s the moment when lawmakers, the executive branch, advocates and the media catch their breath and assess how hundreds of bills fared as they faced the deadline to move through either the Assembly or the Senate – whichever was their “house of origin.”

Those actions have set the stage for the remainder of this year’s legislative session, which ends on Sept. 14.

Our Take

We at Lucas Public Affairs thought we’d share our insights on what our collective experience tells us about the way the remainder of the legislative session will play out and what we’re hearing from our network of contacts in and around the Capitol. Especially with 37 newly elected members, this period presents an opportune time for outreach and education to ensure members are hearing from various perspectives.

Over the next few weeks, no doubt, most of the buzz out of Sacramento will feature the final negotiations on the budget. Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders will be wrangling over how to close a $32 billion gap between projected spending and anticipated revenues in the 2023-24 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Legislative leaders issued their budget bills over the weekend, with floor votes from both chambers expected on Thursday.

One new budget wrinkle this year: state officials have postponed the tax deadline for many residents affected by last winter’s storms until Oct. 16. The delay has injected a new level of uncertainty into the state’s revenue projections.

Another topic generating interest will be the transition of power in the Assembly. Speaker Anthony Rendon is scheduled to step down at the end of June and give way to Assemblymember Robert Rivas, who has been designated by members as the next leader of the house. One big question will be how many changes Rivas will make to the membership and chairs of the Assembly’s committees — changes that could decide the fate of legislation moving through the lower house this summer.

But even as those big stories dominate the news, the policy committees in the Senate and Assembly will begin chewing on all of those bills that survived their first house and now face a six-week gauntlet before the next series of legislative bill deadlines. Policy committees in both houses must act on the remaining bills by July 14 or those bills will be dead for the year.

Historic Perspective 

Especially with 37 new members – nearly one-third of the seats — this Legislature is the most diverse in the history of the state. They’ve also been exceptionally active, introducing more bills than we have seen in recent years. Democratic super-majorities in both houses mean that more of those bills are getting the votes they need to continue to the second house. Once there, they typically face greater scrutiny as they get closer to the finish line. That’s what makes this an opportune time for outreach and education.

Issues On the Agenda

As is often the case in Sacramento, some attention-getting bills on the table this summer include a fair number of labor-backed measures as unions seek to win legislative approval of wage hikes for health care workers, expanded sick leave for all employees, and a “right to return” when companies lay off workers and then later restore those jobs.

Other proposals cover an array of issues. A few causing a buzz include:

  • seeking to tax short-term rentals to pay for more affordable housing
  • requiring online sellers of tickets and hotel accommodations to disclose all fees
  • mandating that major companies gather and report data on their greenhouse gas emissions, and
  • requiring Internet platforms to reimburse news media when they link to their articles.

Finally, a measure that has been a bit of a sleeper but is on many Capitol-area radars could make major changes in California’s referendum rules, making it harder for campaigns to pay workers to gather signatures and requiring them to disclose to voters when they do so.

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