Following passage by the California Senate, the coal divestment bill (SB 185) is now being considered by the California Assembly. The first hurdle is the Committee on Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security, which will vote next Wednesday morning, June 24, whether to send SB 185 to the floor of the Assembly.
The bill would ban investments in thermal coal companies by the large state pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS. This committee vote is a crucial step, and it’s important that the seven members of the committee hear from their constituents. It’s also important to build support among other members of the Assembly for the next step, a full debate and vote by the entire membership to send the bill to the governor for final ratification. Legislators do respond to the voters who elect them, so your voice as a constituent is essential.
If SB 185 is enacted, it will be the first action by a state legislature in the US to mandate fossil fuel divestment. This example will provide further encouragement and momentum to divestment campaigns around the country, building on Norway’s recent coal divestment and on the call by Pope Francis to address the ravages of climate change. It will give a significant impetus to the growing consensus on divestment, with California again leading the way toward a sustainable future.
What can I do?
If you live anywhere in California, please send a letter or email directly to your Assembly Member. You can download this sample letter for some good ideas. And you can find the contact information for your legislator here.
Also, if you live in one of the seven Assembly districts represented by a member of the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security, please sign our petition urging the committee to approve SB 185. Here are those Assembly Members and the areas they represent:
- District 8, Ken Cooley (D): representing eastern Sacramento suburbs, including Arden-Arcade, Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova, and Carmichael
- District 18, Rob Bonta (D), committee chair: Alameda, San Leandro, and most of Oakland (except for North Oakland, Rockridge, and Montclair)
- District 59, Reginald B. Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D): most of South Los Angeles
- District 63, Anthony Rendon (D): Gateway Cities southeast of Los Angeles, including South Gate, Lakewood, Lynwood, and part of Long Beach
- District 68, Donald P. Wagner (R): inland central Orange County, including Lake Forest, Tustin, Orange, and parts of Anaheim and Irvine
- District 70, Patrick O’Donnell (D): southern coastal Los Angeles County, including San Pedro and the port areas of Long Beach and Los Angeles
- District 75, Marie Waldron (R), committee vice chair: northern San Diego exurbs, including Escondido, Temecula, and San Marcos
Please be sure to contact these committee members by next Tuesday, June 23—they will be voting on SB 185 the following day.
There’s one other thing you can do, if you can make it to Sacramento. Join us for the Retirement Committee meeting in the Capitol, starting at 10 am in Room 444.
Together, we can make California coal free, a first step toward making the state free of all fossil fuels.