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What Key Bills Affecting Special Districts Survived the Suspense File?

By Vanessa Gonzales posted 05-24-2022 09:45 AM

CA capitol building with people walking in front

The California State Assembly and Senate Committees on Appropriations each held their respective hearings May 19 to decide which fiscal bills would move forward and which would be held in committee under submission, effectively dead. CSDA monitored both hearings and is pleased to report out the most important actions affecting special districts.


Below is a list of significant legislation that passed the Assembly and Senate Committees on Appropriations.


Assembly Bill 1640 (Ward) - Office of Planning and Research: regional climate networks: regional climate adaptation and resilience action plans

 Authorizes eligible entities, including special districts, to establish and participate in a "regional climate network", which shall develop a regional climate adaptation and resilience action plan and submit the plan to the Office of Planning and Research for review, comments, and certification. A regional climate network may receive state and federal grants and engage in activities.


This bill received amendments on May 19 to align the bill language with the regional climate planning efforts of the Office and Planning and Research (OPR) and reduce requirements to eligible entities.


Assembly Bill 1681 (Daly) - Insurance: fraud prevention and detection

 Pursuant to Section 1879.1 of the Insurance Code, existing law empowers the Insurance Commissioner to convene investigative meetings with insurance companies to discuss specific information concerning suspected, anticipated, or completed acts of insurance fraud, as specified. This bill would allow district attorneys to be invited to such meetings, and also allow district attorneys to convene meetings with representatives of insurance companies and representatives of self-insured employers to discuss specific information concerning suspected, anticipated, or completed acts of insurance fraud, as specified, provided a specified representative of the Insurance Commissioner is present. Such information shared in those meetings will not make a person subject to civil liability for libel, slander, or any other relevant cause of action, provided specified conditions are met (Insurance Commissioner's representative advises participants of guidelines to ensure compliance with federal and state antitrust laws, and no fraud or malice on the part of participants, as specified). This bill contains provisions for uses and sharing of information that comes out of such meetings.


 Assembly Bill 1707 (Boerner Horvath) - Property tax postponement: Senior Citizens and Disabled Citizens Property Tax Postponement Fund

 This bill perpetually "tops off" the Senior Citizens and Disabled Citizens Property Tax Postponement Fund at $15 million using General Fund dollars. Introduced on January 26, 2022, this bill has successfully moved through the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation and through Appropriations with no opposition.


Assembly Bill 1717 (Aguiar-Curry) - Public works: definition

 Assembly Bill 1717 adds fuel reduction work paid for in whole or in part out of public funds performed as part of a fire mitigation project, including, but not limited to, residential chipping, rural road fuel breaks, fire breaks, and vegetation management, to the definition of public works. This will require payment of prevailing wage for these activities. This bill was amended on May 19 to clarify that the work it applies to must be done under contract.


 Assembly Bill 1721 (Rodriguez) - Seismic retrofitting: soft story multifamily housing

 Assembly Bill 1721 establishes a funding program through The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) to provide grant opportunities for local fire departments, including special districts, in responding to surges in demand for emergency medical services and provide effective mutual aid during disasters. This bill was amended on May 19 to retain only the seismic retrofit program.


 Assembly Bill 1751 (Daly) - Workers’ compensation: COVID-19: critical workers

 This bill is a workers' compensation presumption bill related to COVID-19. Under existing law, pursuant to SB 1159 (2020), there is a COVID-19 workplace injury presumption, as specified below, until January 1, 2023. This bill extends applicable sunsets until January 1, 2025.


 Assembly Bill 1776 (Gallagher) - Resource conservation districts: California Prompt Payment Act

 Existing law generally provides that a state agency that acquires property or services pursuant to a contract with certain entities but fails to make payment to the person or business on the date required by the contract, shall be subject to a late payment penalty. This bill would include resource conservation districts within the list of entities entitled to the late payment penalty.


Assembly Bill 1851 (R. Rivas) - Public works: prevailing wage: hauling

 This bill expands the definition of public works to include on hauling of materials used for paving, grading, and fill onto a public works site. Relevant existing law defines public works to include the hauling of refuse from a public works site to an outside disposal location. As applicable to off hauling, “hauling of refuse” is defined as including, but not limited to, hauling soil, sand, gravel, rocks, concrete, asphalt, excavation materials, and construction debris, and excluding the hauling of recyclable metals such as copper, steel, and aluminum that have been separated from other materials at the jobsite prior to transportation and that are to be sold at fair market value to a bona fide purchaser.


 Assembly Bill 1883 (Quirk-Silva) - Public restrooms

 This bill would require library districts (as defined) and park districts (as defined) to complete an inventory of their "accessible, permanent public restrooms, including single-occupancy restrooms" available to the general population in its jurisdiction. These districts - along with cities and counties - would have to provide this completed inventory of bathrooms to the State Department of Public Health not later than July 1, 2023, and quarterly thereafter, for purposes of the development of the Department's online database of public restrooms.



Assembly Bill 1931 (L. Rivas) – Community water systems: lead pipes

Existing state and federal law and regulations have established a comprehensive

structure for addressing lead in water distribution systems. These efforts exist for both the water system and customer side.  This bill is duplicative of some of those efforts and adds uncertainty. This bill was amended on May 19 to ensure federal infrastructure funding can be used for replacements on the customer-owned portion of the lead service line.


Assembly Bill 2188 (Quirk) - Discrimination in employment: use of cannabis

 This bill would afford employees protection from employer practices related to the hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize a person, if based upon any of the following:

 1) The person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.

 2) An employer-required drug screening test that has found the person to have nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites in their urine, hair, or bodily fluids.


Nothing in this section permits an employee to be impaired by, or to use, cannabis on the job, or affects the rights or obligations of an employer to maintain a drug and alcohol-free workplace, as specified in Section 11362.45 of the Health and Safety Code. This bill does not apply to employees in the building and construction trades and states that it does not preempt state or federal laws requiring employees to be tested for controlled substances, including laws requiring employees to be tested as a condition of receiving federal funding or federal licensing-related benefits.


 Assembly Bill 2243 (E. Garcia) - Occupational safety and health standards: heat illness: wildfire smoke

 This bill requires the Cal/OSHA standards board to:

 1) Consider revising the heat illness standard to include an ultrahigh heat standard for employees in outdoor places of employment for heat in excess of 105 degrees, which will include additional mandatory paid rest and recover breaks every hour, more accessible cool water, and increased employer monitoring of employees for symptoms of heat-related illnesses in addition to other protections, and require employers to distribute a copy of the Heat Illness Prevention Plan to all new employees upon hire, when temperatures first exceed 80 degrees and to all employees on an annual basis.

 2) Consider revising existing wildfire smoke standards to reduce the AQI threshold for PM2.5 at which control by respiratory protective equipment becomes mandatory to, at a maximum, an AQI of 301. For an AQI above 301 but below 500, the employer need not implement fit testing and medical evaluations or otherwise implement requirements under Section 5144 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.


This bill also requires the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to consider developing or revising regulations related to:

 1) Additional protections related to acclimatization to higher temperatures, especially following an absence of a week or more from working in ultrahigh heat settings, including after an illness.

 2) Linguistically appropriate training programs for outdoor employees in directly administering first aid related to extreme heat-related illnesses, particularly in rural areas.


Assembly Bill 2247 (Bloom) - Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and PFAS products and product components: publicly accessible reporting platform

This bill, co-sponsored by CASA in conjunction with Clean Water Action and the Environmental Working Group, would require manufacturers to register, on a publicly available reporting platform, products containing PFAS that are sold, distributed, offered as promotions, and/or imported into the state. This platform must be established no later than January 1, 2024, by the Department of Toxic Substances Control. This bill was amended May 19 to limit the reporting requirements to products with “intentionally added” PFAS and extend the implementation and reporting deadlines by one year (2025).


Assembly Bill 2357 (Ting) - Surplus land

This bill makes several changes to the Surplus Lands Act (SLA) and is a follow-up to Assembly Bill 1486 (Ting, Chaptered 2019). Specifically, Assembly Bill 2357 authorizes local agencies to administratively declare specific types of "exempt surplus land" with 30 days public notice and requires local agencies to notify the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) 30 days prior to disposing of exempt surplus land. In addition, Assembly Bill 2357 amends the penalty provisions associated with violations of disposed surplus land making local agencies liable for a penalty that is a specified percentage of an independently appraised fair market value on the surplus land being disposed of.

Assembly Bill 2419 (Bryan) - Environmental justice: federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: Justice40 Advisory Committee

This bill would make the Biden Administration goal a mandate in California by codifying the establishment of a state commission to allocate to disadvantaged communities at least 40 percent of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act's funding for climate, energy, transit, and water/wastewater infrastructure.

 On May 19, this bill was amended to consolidate the reporting requirements and change the role of the Justice40 committee to an advisory board as opposed to an oversight board.


Assembly Bill 2421 (Rubio) - Water: unlicensed cannabis cultivation

 This bill is another attempt to address the issue of illegal water diversion by cannabis growing operations. It provides additional legal authority for local authorities to prosecute crimes relating to water pollution and water theft relating to unpermitted cannabis cultivation. The bill was amended on April 20 to reflect notification requirements for the city attorney or county counsel when an action is taking place.


Assembly Bill 2677 (Gabriel) - Information Practices Act of 1977

This bill’s intent was to apply a comprehensive data privacy law to local agencies by amending the Information Practices Act of 1977 to apply its provisions to local agencies. The bill also made some changes to the definition of “personal information” to expand to include genetic information, IP address, online browsing history, and more.


The bill was amended on May 19 to remove local agencies from the language (and requirements) of Assembly Bill 2677, while also adding intent language articulating the Legislature’s desire to work on a comprehensive data privacy law applicable to local agencies.


Assembly Bill 2953 (Salas) - Department of Transportation and local agencies: streets and highways: recycled materials

 Assembly Bill 2953 would require a local agency that has jurisdiction over a street or highway, to the extent feasible and cost effective, to use advanced technologies and material recycling techniques that reduce the cost of maintaining and rehabilitating streets and highways and that exhibit reduced levels of greenhouse gas emissions through material choice and construction method. Further, the bill would require a local agency that has jurisdiction over a street or highway, beginning January 1, 2024, apply standard specifications that allow for the use of recycled materials in streets and highways to the extent feasible and cost effective. "A local agency that has jurisdiction over a street or highway" is a phrase expressly defined in the bill to only exclude any city whose revenue is equal to or less than 0.02 percent of the total of all California city revenues, or any county whose revenue is equal to or less than 0.10 percent of the total of all California county revenues, as posted for the most recent fiscal year on the Local Government Annual Financial Data internet website or a successor internet website. By expressly defining "a local agency that has jurisdiction over a street or highway" in this manner, special districts would be required to observe these requirements and would not qualify for the exemption provided within the bill.


Senate Bill 892 (Hurtado) - Cybersecurity preparedness: food and agriculture sector and water and wastewater systems sector

This bill requires:

1) The Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) to develop and enact optional reporting guidelines and content, with specified considerations, as specified, applicable to companies and cooperatives in the food and agriculture industry, and entities in the water and wastewater management systems industry, for when they identify verified significant cyber threats or active cyberattacks. This bill suggests reporting within 30 days of discovery and suggests agencies to which the report should be made.

 2) CalOES to direct the California Cybersecurity Integration Center (CCIC) to prepare a strategic, multiyear outreach plan focusing on ways to assist the food and agriculture sector and the water and wastewater sector in efforts to improve cyber security, as specified. This bill requires sharing the plan with the Legislature by January 1, 2024.

 3) CalOES to direct CCIC to evaluate options for providing entities in the food and agriculture sector or the water and wastewater sector with grants or alternative forms of funding to improve cybersecurity preparedness, and provide a report to the Legislature by January 1, 2024, including a summary of CCIC’s evaluation, specific grants and other forms of funding for improved cybersecurity preparedness (current and potential funding), and potential voluntary actions that do not require funding and assist the food and agriculture sector and the water and wastewater sector in their efforts to improve cybersecurity preparedness.


The bill specifies that its provisions do not require the water and wastewater sector to submit vulnerability assessments, emergency response plans, or other related documents to the state.


Senate Bill 931 (Leyva) - Deterring union membership: violations

Senate Bill 931 would permit an employee organization subject to the jurisdiction of the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to bring a claim before PERB alleging a violation of Section 3550. Upon a finding by PERB that the public employer violated Section 3550, the employer will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per each affected employee, not to exceed $100,000 in total. This bill provides for the awarding of attorney’s fees and costs to a prevailing employee organization only, from the inception of administrative proceedings, unless the board finds the claim was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless when brought, or the employee organization continued to litigate after it clearly became so; but such attorney’s fees will not be awarded for proceedings to challenge the dismissal of an unfair practice charge by PERB’s Office of the General Counsel.


This bill was amended to have the contemplated penalties paid to the State General Fund, instead of to PERB.


Senate Bill 1044 (Durazo) - Employers: state of emergency or emergency condition: retaliation

Senate Bill 1044 will require that in a state of emergency or an emergency condition, an employer shall not take or threaten adverse action against any employee for refusing to report to, or leaving, a workplace within the affected area because the employee feels unsafe; or, prevent any employee from accessing the employee’s mobile device or other communications device for seeking emergency assistance, assessing the safety of the situation, or communicating with a person to verify their safety.


This bill was amended to reduce its scope, including to exclude employees defined as Disaster Service Workers in Section 3101 of the Government Code, first responders as defined in Section 8562 of the Government Code, and certain private sector employees.


Senate Bill 1109 (Caballero) – California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program: bioenergy projects

This bill would extend the electrical corporations’ obligation to procure their proportionate share of 125 megawatts of cumulative rated generating capacity from bioenergy projects collectively and extend these requirements until December 31, 2023. This bill was amended on May 19 to strike the language requiring standard contract terms and conditions.


Senate Bill 1124 (Archuleta) - Public health goal: primary drinking water standard: manganese

This bill would require Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to prepare a public health goal for manganese, as provided. The bill would require the state board, after OEHHA publishes a public health goal for manganese, to adopt a primary drinking water standard for manganese and to establish monitoring requirements for manganese on or before July 1, 2023.


Senate Bill 1127 (Atkins) - Workers’ compensation: liability presumptions

Senate Bill 1127 would do the following things:

1) Adds firefighter and peace office cancers, as specified in Labor Code Section 3212.1, to the list of conditions for which aggregate disability payments for a single injury occurring on or after January 1, 2023, causing temporary disability, shall not extend for more than 240 compensable weeks.

2) Reduces the period of time that employers are allowed to investigate a claim for benefits prior to making a coverage decision. For most claims the investigation period is reduced from 90 to 60 days. For claims covered by legal presumptions, as specified, the investigation period is reduced even further to 30 days.

3) Expands penalties on employers which may result in significant benefit expansions for workers covered by certain legal presumptions. Specifically, when liability has been unreasonably rejected for claims of injury or illness covered by certain legal presumptions, as specified, the amount of the penalty will be five times the amount of the benefits unreasonably delayed due to the rejection of liability, capped at $100,000. This provision is applied retroactively.

Senate Bill 1173 (Gonzalez) – Public retirement systems: fossil fuels: divestment

This bill requires CalPERS and CalSTRS to not make additional or new investments or renew existing investments of public employee retirement funds in a fossil fuel company, as defined, and to liquidate investments in fossil fuel companies on or before July 1, 2030. Through January 1, 2035, this requirement shall be suspended upon a good faith determination by the board that an act of God, war, or other unforeseeable event creates conditions that materially impact normal market mechanisms for pricing assets and shall only be reinstated, as specified, upon a subsequent good faith finding of the board that market conditions have substantially returned to normal ex-ante.


The bill does not require the boards of the respective retirement systems to take action as described in the bill unless the boards determine in good faith that the action is consistent with the fiduciary responsibilities of the boards described in the California Constitution. Beginning February 1, 2024, and annually thereafter, each of the boards shall create reports, and provide them to the Legislature and the Governor, and post them to their websites, that include the following: a list of fossil fuel companies of which the board has liquidated its investments as required; a list of fossil fuel companies with which the board still has not liquidated its investments; a list of fossil fuel companies of which the board has not liquidated its investments as a result of a determination that a sale or transfer of investments is inconsistent with the fiduciary responsibilities of the board described in the California Constitution, and the board’s findings adopted in support of that determination; and an analysis of methods and opportunities to rapidly and effectively reduce dependence on fossil fuels and transition to alternative energy sources in a realistic timeframe that avoids negatively contributing to economic conditions particularly damaging to public employee retirement funds and to overall net employment earnings of the state’s workforce.


Below is a list of significant legislation held under submission in the State Assembly and Senate Committees on Appropriations  

  • Assembly Bill 1953 (Maienschein) Drinking water: accessible water bottle refill stations 
  • Assembly Bill 2078 (Flora) – Atmospheric Rivers: Research, Mitigation, and Climate Forecasting Program 
  • Assembly Bill 2387 (E. Garcia) – Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparation, Flood Protection, Extreme Heat Mitigation, and Workforce 
  • Senate Bill 1197 (Caballero) – Water Innovation and Drought Resilience Act of 2022 
  • Senate Bill 1404 (Stern) – California Environmental Quality Act: oak woodlands 
  • Senate Bill 1458 (Limón) – Workers’ compensation: disability benefits: gender disparity


CSDA will continue monitoring the bills listed above that passed through the Committees on Appropriations and engage with authors’ offices, legislative staff, coalition partners, and our members to ensure effective advocacy as the session continues.


May 27 is the “House of Origin” deadline when all bills must pass off the floor of the house in which they were introduced. The State Legislature will begin its Summer Recess on July 1 and reconvene August 1. All bills must pass the full Legislature before the August 31 conclusion of the 2021-2022 biennial Legislative Session. The last day for the Governor to sign or veto bills will be September 30.


If you have any questions, please contact Cole Querry at