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On Friday the Appropriations Committee in both houses will be meeting to vote on pending legislation that affects state government finances. Below is a list of public interest bills to watch. All of the bills listed are supported by CALPIRG.  

Campaign Finance and Government Transparency:  

SB 1107, authored by Senators Ben Allen and Loni Hancock, would remove the ban on public financing of campaigns while strengthening regulations against contributions from foreign governments and preventing officeholders convicted of fiscal crimes from using their campaign financing for purposes other than campaigning.

SB 1349, authored by Senator Bob Hertzberg, would direct the Secretary of State to modernize Cal-Access, California’s online system for campaign finance filing and disclosure. This necessary upgrade would make the system more reliable, better inform voters, and simplify compliance by campaigns. Modernizing Cal-Access would increase the transparency of campaign financing without requiring new disclosure rules, simply by providing easier public access to the information that campaigns already report. 

AB 1828, authored by Assemblymember Bill Dodd, would close a loophole in the Kopp Conflict of Interest Act of 1990 that allows members of the Board of Equalization to accept contributions that may create conflicts of interest in their hearings.

AB 2002, authored by Assemblymembers Mark Stone, Atkins, and Levine, would officially label those who lobby the California Coastal Commissions “lobbyists” under the Political Reform Act. Members of the Commission would thereby be prohibited from engaging in ex parte communications with lobbyists for 24 hours before hearing a related case. Communications that happen within 7 days of a case will have to be reported.

Consumer Protection:

SB 1053, authored by Senator Mark Leno, would prohibit discrimination against renters who rely on housing subsidies. Such discrimination frustrates the central aim of rental assistance programs and increases the harm and severity of California’s housing crisis.

SB 1282, authored by Senators Ben Allen and Mark Leno, would require labelling of plants and seeds that have been treated with a neonicotinoid pesticide beginning in July 2017. Neonicotinoid pesticides would also be designated as a restricted substance by January 2018. Many consumers are increasingly concerned about the harmful effects of neonicotinoids on the bee populations and want to know this important information.

Public Health:

SB 1398, authored by Senator Connie Leyva, would mandate that public water systems must compile an inventory of all lead water pipes still in use and then provide a timeline for their replacement. Californians should not be exposed to lead in our drinking water.

SB 887, authored by Senator Fran Pavley, would lay out best practices, minimum standards, and crisis response guidelines to help mitigate the present danger posed by out-of-date natural gas wells. It requires better overside and disclosure by DOGGR, improving public transparency.

SB 888, authored by Senators Allen, De León, and Pavley, and Asm. Wilk, would help organize responses to leaks like the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak, put the duty of compensation firmly on the gas corporation responsible, and set up a fund to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Health Care:

SB 908, authored by Senator Ed Hernandez, would require health insurance companies to notify consumers if their rate has been declared “unreasonable” by regulators, and allow consumers to shop around for different insurance policies. This bill would encourage best practices among insurers. 

SB 1135, authored by Senator Bill Monning, would require health plans and insurers to notify consumers about their right to timely care and language assistance. Knowing their rights will help Californians access high-quality health care that meets their linguistic and medical needs.

SB 1033, authored by Senator Jerry Hill, would mandate disclosure of physicians’ and other medical practitioners’ probationary status to patients. Generally, physicians who have been placed under probation for serious offenses are permitted to continue practicing medicine under some restrictions, and are not required to disclose their status to patients. Patients should know the status of their physician so they can make informed choices about their healthcare providers. 

SB 1010, authored by Senator Ed Hernandez, would provide transparency of soaring prescription drug prices for both public and private purchasers. Soaring drug costs are one of the top challenges facing our health care system, and public and private purchasers, as well as policymakers, need a better understanding of the cost drivers of prescription drugs to make informed decisions.

AB 2711, authored by Assemblymember David Chiu, would enhance the efficacy of the Department of General Services’ pharmaceutical purchasing activities and require a report that, among other things, reveals actual savings realized by consumers.

Transportation:

AB 2222, authored by Assemblymember Chris Holden, would allocate funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for student transit pass programs. A UCLA study of 35 college and university student transit pass programs across the United States in 2001 showed ridership increases of 71 to 200 percent after the implementation of these programs.

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