Lawmakers wrapping up the legislative session this week have sent dozens of bills to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk seeking his signature, covering weighty topics — guns, drugs, education, environment, discrimination, crime and punishment — and some far out stuff too, from marijuana cafes to magic mushrooms.
There are a number of potential national firsts that could emerge from the country’s most populous state with Newsom’s approval. His Democratic Party wields supermajority control in the legislature, and the governor must sign, veto or allow bills to become law without his signature by Oct 14.
Some potentially significant matters didn’t materialize or make it across the finish line, including an effort to keep insurers from bailing on California homeowners by making it easier for them to raise rates. Other significant bills may go down to the wire as the legislature wraps up Thursday night, including a couple of proposed constitutional amendments opposed by taxpayer advocates and a bill to give killers serving life without parole a chance at release.
Here are some of the recently approved bills that Newsom will consider:
- SB 2 — Lawmakers this week passed a new version of rules that limit concealed guns after the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned New York’s restrictions and cast doubt on similar laws in a handful of other states, including California. State lawmakers tried to revise requirements last year but couldn’t get enough votes. This week, they agreed on a bill that requires concealed-weapon carriers to be at least 21 and adds “sensitive places” where guns can’t be carried.
- SB 368 — Extends firearm ownership bans for repeat violators, requires gun dealers to store guns for people in crisis, restricts dealers from offering firearms or other inventory as game prizes.
- AB 28 — Imposes an extra 11% tax on sales of guns, ammunition and firearm parts with proceeds funding gun violence research and education.
- AB 1572 — Prohibits strip malls, office parks, supermarkets, car dealerships, industrial sites and government properties from watering decorative grass, whether or not California is in a drought. The rules wouldn’t apply to homes, apartments, cemeteries or recreational “functional turf” such as sports fields, golf courses, playgrounds and pet exercise areas.
- SB 253 — Requires companies in California with more than $1 billion in annual revenue to publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions each year. They would have to account for emissions not only from their facilities but also from their supply chains, business travel and employee commuting.
- AB 579 — Requires all new school buses purchased by California school districts to be zero-emission by 2035, allowing for a five-year extension if there are funding or feasibility challenges. It aligns with Newsom’s direction last year that led California air regulators to approve landmark rules that will bar sales of new gasoline-powered cars, SUVs, minivans and pickups in the state by 2035.
- AB 5 — Requires middle and high school teachers to undergo at least an hour a year of online training in how to support LGBTQ+ students.
- SB 760 — Requires K-12 schools to have at least one gender-neutral bathroom.
- AB 1078 — Prohibits school boards from banning the use of an existing textbook, instructional material or curriculum that contains inclusive and diverse perspectives. Newsom has indicated support amid a national debate over school “book bans” involving sensitive topics of sex and race.
- SB 274 — Prohibits California’s public TK-12 schools from suspending students for low-level behavior issues known as “willful defiance,” such as a student wearing a hat backward, falling asleep in class or “talking back to a teacher.” It is aimed at preventing at-risk students from dropping out of school.
- SB 14 — Defines human trafficking of a minor as a serious felony, increasing penalties for traffickers. After passing the Senate with bipartisan support, it was held up by some Assembly Democrats over concerns it would penalize victims. The bill’s Republican sponsor said that wasn’t the intent and agreed to suggested amendments. Newsom personally intervened to ensure the bill didn’t stall, indicating his likely support.
- SB 553 — Requires employers to have a workplace violence prevention plan. Written to address worker-safety concerns after a mass shooting at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail yard, it drew opposition from shopkeepers over language prohibiting employers from requiring employees not assigned to security to confront active shooters or suspected shoplifters, which they argued would invite crime. That language has since been stricken.
- AB 418 — Bans four chemical additives from food products, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propyl paraben and Red Dye No. 3, on grounds that some studies have linked them to increased risks of cancer and harm to the reproductive and immune systems, and they have been prohibited in countries overseas. The original bill also barred titanium dioxide, used to brighten colors in candies, but after critics assailed it as a “Skittles ban,” that provision was struck.
- SB 487 — Protects health care providers from civil or criminal penalties or threats against their professional license for providing abortion or gender affirming care that is restricted in another state.
- AB 374 — Allows marijuana retailers to prepare and serve food and drinks and have live music on premises where consumption of cannabis and cannabis goods is authorized, similar to coffeeshops in Amsterdam.
- SB 58 — Would allow possession of psilocybin “magic” mushrooms and other psychedelic substances such as mescaline and DMT for personal use, with prohibitions on having them at schools or giving them to people under age 21.
- SB 234 — To address the rise in deaths from opioids like fentanyl, the bill requires stadiums, concert venues, and amusement parks to stock naloxone, known as Narcan, a medication that reverses and blocks opioid effects. Similar bills to require schools and other businesses to have Narcan on hand.
- SB 403 — Under this bill, California would become the first state to protect people from discrimination or harassment based on caste, an ancient class system determined by birth or ancestry and predominantly practiced in South Asia.
- SB 447 — Repeals California’s ban on state-sponsored travel to other states with laws deemed hostile to the LGBTQ community and creates in its place a program to encourage LGBTQ+ acceptance.
- AB 1356 — Expands advance layoff notice requirements from 60 to 75 days.
- AB 1136 — Creates a Mixed Martial Arts Retirement Benefit Fund for aging fighters, funded by a $1 surcharge on ticket sales.
Staff Writer Elissa Miolene contributed to this report.
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