April 2021 – This Month in Sacramento

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Legislative Update
by Richard Markuson
Region 9 Legislative Advocate



February 2021 – Focus on COVID-19 Relief

The Legislature passed and Governor Newsom signed into law a package of legislation intended to provide needed relief to individuals, families and businesses suffering the most significant economic hardship due to COVID-19.

  • AB 81 by Assemblymember Philip Ting (D-San Francisco) – COVID-19 relief.
  • AB 82 by Assemblymember Philip Ting (D-San Francisco) – COVID-19 pandemic emergency: contact tracing: childcare.
  • AB 85 by the Committee on Budget – Budget Act of 2020.
  • SB 87 by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) – California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program: income tax: gross income: exclusion: small business grants.
  • SB 88 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – One-time stimulus payment: delinquent accounts: Earned Income Tax Credit: statements.
  • SB 94 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – Alcoholic beverage control: barbering and cosmetology: license renewal fees: waiver.

Below are key provisions of the bills signed into law:

Direct Relief to Individuals and Families

Provides $600 in one-time relief to households receiving the California EITC for 2020. In addition, the agreement provides a $600 one-time payment to taxpayers with Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs) who were precluded from receiving the $1,200 per person federal payments issued last spring and the more recent $600 federal payments. Today’s action also provides $600 payments to households with ITINs and income below $75,000. ITIN taxpayers who also qualify for the California EITC would receive a total of $1,200. The payments will be provided to these households shortly after they file their 2020 tax returns.

Provides direct relief to additional lower-income Californians through a $600 one-time grant to households enrolled in the CalWORKS program and recipients of SSI/SSP and Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI). Grant payments for CalWORKS households are expected by mid-April; timing for the delivery of SSI/SSP and CAPI grants is currently under discussion with federal officials.

Immediate Relief for Small Businesses

Provides $2.1 billion for grants up to $25,000 for small businesses impacted by the pandemic, and allocates $50 million of this total for non-profit cultural institutions.

Fee Waivers for Heavily Impacted Licensees

Two years of fee relief for roughly 59,000 restaurants and bars licensed through the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control that can range annually from $455 to $1,235. The action also reflects fee relief for more than 600,000 barbering and cosmetology individuals and businesses licensed through the Department of Consumer Affairs.

More Resources for Critical Child Care

Addition of just over $400 million in new federal funds to provide stipends of $525 per enrolled child for all state-subsidized child care and preschool providers serving approximately 400,000 children in subsidized care statewide.

Additional Aid for Individuals and Families

Provides an additional $24 million for financial assistance and services through Housing for the Harvest – a program providing support for agricultural workers who have to quarantine due to COVID-19. The effort also provides a combined $35 million for food banks and diapers.

Emergency Financial Relief to Support Community College Students

Provides an additional $100 million in emergency financial aid for qualifying low-income students carrying six or more units, with award amounts to be determined locally and made available by early April. In addition, the agreement provides $20 million to reengage students who have either left their community college studies because of the pandemic or to engage students at risk of leaving.

CalFresh Student Outreach and Application Assistance

Provides roughly $6 million to support outreach and application assistance to University of California, California State University and California Community College students made newly eligible for CalFresh – the state-administered federal program for supplemental food assistance. The agreement also provides $12 million in state funds to support associated county administrative workload.

Other Legislation

AB 5 (Fong) would suspend the appropriation of GHG credit funds to the High-Speed Rail Authority for the 2021–22 and 2022–23 fiscal years and would require the transfer of those amounts from moneys collected by the state board to the General Fund.

AB 43 (Friedman) would require, beginning June 1, 2022, and every 6 months thereafter, Caltrans to convene a committee of external design experts to advise on revisions to the Highway Design Manual.

AB 464 (Mullin) would remove the prohibition on the use of proceeds of enhanced infrastructure financing district (EIFD) bonds to finance maintenance of any kind. The bill would remove from the list of facilities and projects the district may fund, the acquisition, construction, or repair of industrial structures for private use.

AB 747 (Mathis) Appropriates $20,000,000 from the General Fund to the State Water Resources Control Board to provide a grant to a joint powers authority composed of the Tule River Indian Tribe and the City of Porterville for a water treatment facility.

AB 786 (Cervantes) would require the executive director of the California Transportation Commission to be appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate, and subject to removal at the discretion of the Governor.

AB 1030 (Chen) would expand the practice of land surveying and civil engineering to include determining the benthic surface below water bodies and the measuring for volumetric calculations of earthwork.

AB 1035 (Salas) would delete the condition in the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program requirement imposed on the department and those cities and counties to use advanced technologies and material recycling techniques to the extent possible.

AB 1037 (Grayson) requires an infrastructure project that receives any state funding to deploy digital construction technologies to reduce waste, inefficiency, rework, cost overruns, and embodied carbon, and to improve delivery times and project quality.

AB 1047 (Daly) Would require the Transportation Agency to oversee the development and implementation of a comprehensive one-stop reporting interface available to the public through an internet website maintained by the agency.

AB 1116 (Friedman) would require the HSR authority, and any entity contracting with the authority, to provide to the Legislative Analyst’s Office any information that it requests and to permit representatives of the Legislative Analyst’s Office to attend the authority’s internal meetings.

AB 1195 (Garcia) creates the Southern Los Angeles County Regional Water Agency as a regional water agency serving the drinking water needs of the cities, unincorporated areas, and residents in the communities overlying the Central Basin and West Coast Basin aquifers in southern Los Angeles County.

AB 1329 (Nazarian) requires the Building Standards Commission to develop, adopt, and publish building standards that would require new construction of buildings, except for buildings regulated by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development or the Division of the State Architect, to be designed and built to a functional recovery standard, as defined, for earthquake loads.

AB 1434 (Friedman) establish, beginning January 1, 2023, until January 1, 2025, the standard for indoor residential water use as 48 gallons per capita daily.

AB 1447 (Cooley) Would establish the Rural California Infrastructure Act to award grants to specified local agencies to fund rural infrastructure projects.

AB 1464 (Arambula) would require, on or before January 1, 2023, the owner of an acute care inpatient hospital to update the certain submissions to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development by reporting the services provided in each building of the acute care inpatient hospital.

AB 1499 (Daly) repeals sunset that authorizes regional transportation agencies to utilize design-build procurement for projects on or adjacent to the state highway system.

AB 1500 (Garcia) enacts the Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparation, Flood Protection, Extreme Heat Mitigation, and Workforce Development Bond Act of 2022, which, if approved by the voters, would authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $6,700,000,000 pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law to finance projects for safe drinking water, wildfire prevention, drought preparation, flood protection, extreme heat mitigation, and workforce development programs.

ACA 1 (Aguiar-Curry) This measure would authorize a city, county, city and county, or special district to levy an ad valorem tax to service bonded indebtedness incurred to fund the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of public infrastructure, affordable housing, or permanent supportive housing, or the acquisition or lease of real property for those purposes, if the proposition proposing that tax is approved by 55% of the voters of the city, county, or city and county, as applicable, and the proposition includes specified accountability requirements.

Next month we’ll review Senate bills.

Reports of Interest

The California State Water Resources Control Board released Drinking Water COVID-19 Financial Impacts Survey. “At least 1.6 million California households, or one in eight, have water debt.… The unpaid water bills total $1 billion.… That may dwarf statewide rental debt, which the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office pegged at $400 million. Californian’s water debt crisis, which Newsom called a ‘critical issue’ on Monday, represents another pandemic ripple effect that jeopardizes basic human needs in the face of disaster: a shelter from the virus, safe water to drink and wash hands.… Water debt and potential shutoffs weigh most heavily on low-income communities of color, who suffer disproportionately from job loss and coronavirus itself. Meanwhile, unpaid bills threaten smaller water systems serving rural, poor areas.… While average debt is $500, at least 155,000 households – mostly in Los Angeles – owe over $1,000.” (CalMatters, Jan. 26, 2021).


The National Academy of Sciences released Geographies of insecure water access and the housing–water nexus in US cities. “An estimated 1.1 million people living in the U.S. report lacking some access to running water in their homes, with nearly three-quarters of them living in cities and suburbs. … Householders of color in the 50 largest metropolitan areas are 34% more likely to lack what the U.S. Census Bureau calls ‘complete plumbing’ compared with white, non-Hispanic householders. … The Census Bureau considers a household to have ‘complete plumbing’ if it has running hot and cold water plus a bathtub or shower used only by people living in the dwelling. … The authors further find that renters in the top 50 metro areas are 61% more likely to lack complete plumbing compared with residents who own their homes. … [A]lmost half of households without complete plumbing are cost-burdened.”


American Geophysical Union (AGU) released Carbon‐Neutral Pathways for the United States. “Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 could be ‘surprisingly feasible,’ with costs running $1 per day per person or just 0.4% of the U.S GDP. … [T]echnical limitations in other fields mean the electricity sector must be among the first to pursue aggressive decarbonization, eliminating 65-70% of its emissions by 2035. … This is a necessary first step … because carbon-free electricity enables multiple downstream strategies such as electrification or the development of alternative fuels. … [I]t is possible to make dramatic strides toward decarbonized electric generation with existing technology. … [R]ushing to achieve full decarbonization ahead of schedule could actually prove detrimental in the long-term.” (Utility Dive, Feb. 2, 2021).


Urban Studies released What Do Residential Lotteries Show Us About Transportation Choices. “As city planners are facing efforts to promote walkable communities, it is important to understand the extent that planning decisions like parking availability determine transportation choices. It is not clear, however, if parking availability makes people drive more, or if people that prefer to drive simply choose to live where parking is available. This study takes advantage of San Francisco’s housing lottery program, which randomly assigns below-market-rate housing units to eligible households on a random basis, to eliminate the influence of transportation preference on access to units with or without parking. Under these conditions, the study authors found that households with on-site parking were more than twice as likely to own a car as families placed in units without parking. This represents ‘compelling evidence that transportation choices depend on features of the local built environment.’”


PPIC released Water Partnerships between Cities and Farms in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. “San Joaquin Valley farms and Southern California cities are facing different but equally daunting water challenges. … Both regions’ water futures could be more secure if they jointly developed and managed some water supplies. … Investments in urban conservation and alternative water supplies – such as water recycling and storm water capture – could allow cities in Southern California, the Central Coast and the Bay Area to reduce the amount of water they now import from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. By participating in these investments, San Joaquin Valley farmers could obtain some of the Delta exports now going to coastal cities. Similarly, co-investments between farmers and cities in underground storage and conveyance infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley could allow more water to be captured during wet years, increasing overall water availability.” (CALmatters, Jan. 20, 2021).


The State Water Resources Control Board has released a draft white paper, “On the Reuse of Oil Field Produced Water for Irrigation of Food Crops In Central Kern County, California,” says it is “result of five years of extensive crop sampling and a thorough evaluation of data, along with a review of existing literature” and it “did not find evidence of elevated risks to human health expected from consuming the crops grown with produced water compared to traditional water sources.”


The CA State Auditor’s office has released its report, “California Air Resources Board: Improved Program Measurement Would Help California Work More Strategically to Meet Its Climate Change Goals,” finds that CARB “has not done enough to measure the GHG emissions reductions its incentive programs achieve” and “has generally not determined the effects its incentive programs have on consumers’ behavior and thus, has overstated GHG emissions reductions its incentive programs achieve,” recommends that by August 2021 CARB “develop a process to define, collect, and evaluate data on the behavioral changes that result from each of its incentive programs.”


Appointments of Interest by the Governor

As Central Valley Regional Director at the California High-Speed Rail Authority: Garth Fernandez, Fresno, has served as interim and as principal transportation engineer since 2020.




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