September, 2017 Update

The 2017 legislative year ended on Friday, September 15. (Make that Saturday morning, 2:15 am!) Bills that were passed by both houses this year head to the Governor, who has until October 15 to sign or veto them. Meanwhile, legislators are gearing up for the second year of this two-year session, which begins on January 3. Many bills that didn’t pass in 2017 will likely be revived in 2018, starting where they left off in the long and winding process toward passage…or death.

The lists below show that a lot of climate legislation is going to need a lot more work next year. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the legislature passed many big bills in 2017, including SB/AB 1 for infrastructure; SB 54 the “Sanctuary State” bill; AB 249, the California Disclose Act (at long last); and a big parks bond headed for the ballot next year. Something had to give, and some of our bills did. Click here for a roundup of rumors and intelligence about what went down at the end of the session. Clearly, we have our work cut out for us in 2018.

Bills we endorsed that passed and are headed for the Governor’s desk (please tell him to sign them!)

  • SB 50, The Public Lands Protection Act (Allen D-Santa Monica) will help protect federal lands in CA by ensuring they stay in public hands.
  • SB 51: Whistleblower and Public Data Protection Act (Jackson D-Santa Barbara) aims to protect scientific data and protect government employees who report violations of the law.
  • AB 262: Assembly member Rob Bonta’s (D-Alameda) “Buy Clean” bill, requiring state procurement processes to take greenhouse gas emissions into account passed both houses and is now headed to the Governor.

Bills we worked for that are held over for MORE work in 2018

  • In 2017 with our partner Environment California, we sponsored SB 560 (Allen), a bill that will define “financial climate risk” in law and require CalPERS and CalSTRS to consider and report on climate risk in their portfolios. The bill was held in Senate Appropriations and will be re-introduced in January 2018 after we negotiate amendments. Please stay tuned on this one, as SB 560 will be a major priority for us until it’s passed and signed by the Governor.
  • In the last days of the session, SB 100, Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León’s (D-Los Angeles) bill to require 100 percent clean electricity in CA by 2045, failed to reach the Assembly floor. This is despite passing easily in the Senate earlier in the year and passing two Assembly committees in July. This bill will return in 2018, and Asm. Chris Holden, chair of the committee that held it, has promised to work for its passage. Fossil Free CA remains firmly committed to the goal of 100 percent clean electricity and will be advocating for legislation with that goal in 2018.
  • SB 49 The CA Environmental Defense Act (de León and Stern), to preserve the standards in landmark federal laws such as Clean Air and Clean Water acts and the Endangered Species Act, passed the Senate but was held in committee in the Assembly. FFCA will continue to advocate for this important bill in 2018.
  • SB 188: Senator Hannah Beth Jackson’s (D-Santa Barbara) bill prohibiting oil and gas leases, and some transport, in federal waters off California. This bill passed the Senate but was held in committee in the Assembly. FFCA continues to support the goals of this bill.
  • SB 263: Senator Leyva’s (D-Chino) bill creating Climate Assistance Centers in low-income communities. This bill was held in Senate Appropriations, and may be back next year.

Bills we liked that appear to have died…

  • SB 57: Sen. Henry Stern’s (D-Canoga Park) bill placing a moratorium on reopening the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility until all causes of the leak are understood and a safety review is complete. This important bill never made it out of the Senate, but work to make the facility safe continues.
  • SB 775: We endorsed the Senate leadership’s bill reforming the state’s Cap and Trade program after 2020. Unfortunately, this bill never made it out of its first committee. It was replaced by AB 398 (see below).

Results for bills we opposed

  • SB 488 (Bradford): This one passed the Senate unanimously but was amended horribly in the Assembly Insurance Committee—to essentially bar our state’s Insurance Commissioner from continuing his groundbreaking work requiring insurance companies to disclose climate risk and fossil fuel holdings in their vast investment portfolios. FFCA’s position was “oppose unless amended” to remove the added language. The bill was held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee “under submission,” which means it could be back in 2018. We will be watching!
  • AB 398 (E. Garcia): The compromise cap and trade bill promoted by the Governor passed with bipartisan support, and that may be a rather delicate silver lining.
  • AB 617 (C. Garcia): The companion bill to SB 378, designed to clarify and strengthen powers of the local air districts to regulate pollutants with the exception of CO2 (which is regulated under cap and trade). We took an “oppose unless amended” position, but the bill was not sufficiently amended, in our view. Look for legislation that strengthens clean air protections in 2018.
  • ACA 1 (Mullin): We opposed this part of the cap and trade deal, which puts a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2018. If passed by the voters, the amendment will hold all cap and trade funds collected after January 1, 2024, until both houses of the legislature agree with 2/3 majorities on a spending allocation plan for those funds. After the vote, future cap and trade funds will be allocated per the usual process, or whatever the legislature decides (by majority vote).

Information about bills (full text, current status, etc.) is available at leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. Sign up for a free account to track bills and to be notified when there are changes.

Legislation is important to Fossil Free California, as we believe that major legislated policy change—at all levels of government—is required to move our state, the nation, and the world to a low-carbon future. We are fortunate to be working on legislation in California, leading the states and showing the federal government that a nation-size state can have progressive climate policies AND a thriving economy.

FFCA’s legislative team works with 350 Bay Area and with 350 local groups throughout California. Through our participation in Green California, a consortium of more than 100 environmental groups statewide, we partner with other climate leaders to work for passage of key legislation. Our volunteers join delegations to legislators’ district offices, give public comment at committee hearings, and write letters to legislators and newspapers about the issues we follow.

Legislative Resources