California Legislature Reconvenes

California Legislature Reconvenes

The California Legislature’s summer recess was extended by 14 days as a result of Assembly Members and staff being positive for COVID-19. The Legislature is scheduled to return July 27, 2020 with safety protocols in place that, among other things, allow at-risk members to remain in their district and vote remotely during committee hearings. The Senate will require members to be present, on the Floor, during the final 2 weeks of the session. The Assembly will allow proxy voting during the Floor sessions for members who cannot return to the Capitol.

As a result of the first closure in March lawmakers were asked to limit their bills and focus on three priority areas; COVID-19, wildfires and homelessness. Once again, as a result of the second closure, lawmakers have been asked to reduce their already reduced bill package. There are still hundreds of bills awaiting a vote so the next two weeks will consist of long days, long hearings and as many bills as the legislature can possibly get through in the limited time it has.

Upcoming Deadlines

July 31st – Last day for policy committees to hear and report bills to the fiscal committees

August 7th – Last day for policy committees to meet and report bills

August 14th – Last day for fiscal committees to meet and report bills

August 17th – Floor sessions only

August 21st – Last to amend bills on the Floor

August 31st – Last day for each house to pass bills

Once the legislature reconvenes, we will have a better idea of the narrow priorities that will be addressed in the short remainder of this legislative session. However, we do know that bills related to COVID-19 are still a priority for the legislature so we expect that many of those bills will proceed through the hearing process. Wildfires and homelessness are still a priority for the legislature as is police reform, but we may see the overall number of those priority bills decrease for this session with the expectation that they will address them in the next legislative session.

Getting Back on Track

The legislature and advocates are working hard to get the legislative session back on track or at least as close as possible to what a typical legislative session would look like. Although this year is anything but typical there are still many bills to be heard – most somehow related to the identified priorities of COVID-19, wildfires, or homelessness – and policy committees have been hearing bills accordingly. There have definitely been some challenges such as bills not being referring to more than one committee (known as double -referred) for policy discussions. Often the more complex bills impact more than one policy area, so they get referred to the respective policy committees for discussion ultimately resulting in a more thorough discussion about potential unintended consequences. However, the call-in option for public comment has been a good opportunity for the advocacy community since in previous years many people could not get to the Capitol to give public comment.

One thing that hasn’t really changed is deadlines – house of origin (policy, fiscal and floor), budget committee deadlines, and the constitutional deadline to pass the budget. Upcoming deadlines in the next few weeks include:

5/29/2020
Last day for policy committees to hear and report to fiscal committees fiscal bills introduced in their house

6/5/20
Last day for policy committees to hear and report to the floor nonfiscal bills introduced in their house
Last day for policy committees to meet prior to June 1

6/15/20
Budget Bill must be passed by Midnight

6/19/20
Last day for fiscal committees to hear and report to the floor bills introduced in their house
Last day for fiscal committees to meet prior to June 29

As we work our way through the next few weeks and the respective deadlines we will be reaching out and encouraging your participation in advocacy efforts.

The California Legislature Set to Return

The California Assembly will return to business, not quite as usual on May 4, 2020. Policy and Budget hearings will be held but the Assembly has issued strict guidelines related to participating in the legislative process during the COVID-19 Pandemic. There will be health screening at the entrance of the Capitol and limited public access to the hearing rooms for in-person public comment. The Assembly is encouraging public participation and comment through a dedicated phone line. The phone number will be given at the beginning, and throughout, the hearings. The Assembly memo detailing the new guidelines can be found here: https://capitolmr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/assembly.pdf

Next week’s hearings include an Informational Hearing on Critical Health and Human Services Related to the COVID-19 Crisis, Education Committee and Human Services. There are several other hearings scheduled but a significant number are still postponed. For current hearing information check the Assembly Daily File at: https://www.assembly.ca.gov/dailyfile

The Senate is scheduled to return on May 11, 2020. For information about the Senate schedule check the Senate Daily File at: https://www.senate.ca.gov/dailyfile