California: Land of 1,000 new laws
California's Jerry Brown's crowning achievement for his 16th and final year as state governor was signing a new record of over 1,000 laws.
Despite Democrats losing supermajorities and freshman senator Josh Newman being recalled for support a gas tax increase, California's Democratic-controlled legislature passed and Governor Jerry Brown signed a record 1,016 new laws in 2018.
The CALmatters blog reported that some of the most prominent signing actions by Jerry Brown in his sixteenth year of his four terms as California's governor included:
- 100 Percent Renewable Energy – S.B. 100 requires utilities to generate 50 percent of electricity from renewable sources in 2026 and 100 percent carbon-free sources by 2045. With Californians paying over 50 percent more for electricity than the U.S. average, SB 100 assures that subsidies will force residents to pay the highest U.S. rates.
- For-Profit Charter Schools – A.B. 406, supported by teacher unions, bans private companies running charter schools. The 2018-2019 school year saw a new low of a net two new charter schools, but 1,323 remained open and still enrolled 660,000 students.
- Drinks in Kids' Meals – S.B. 1192 bans sugary sodas as a kid's meal default beverage. Beverage choices were limited to water, plain milk, and non-dairy substitutes like yummy kiddie favorites such as almond milk.
- Plastic Straws – A.B. 1884 bans full-service, dine-in restaurants from offering single-use plastic straws unless they are requested by customers. The compromise legislation exempted fast-food chains.
- Wildfire Response – S.B. 901 allows PG&E utility to raise rates to pay for liability associated with 2017 forest fires supposedly sparked by power lines and provides $200 million to thin forests. The legislation avoids controversy about homeless starting forest fires and the legislature's passing laws limiting logging roads that served as fire breaks.
- "Junk" Health Insurance – S.B. 910 bans extremely inexpensive short-term health care policies that exclude pre-existing conditions favored by self-employed young people. The bill preserves record profits for big hospital chains and insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
- Conservatorships for Mentally Ill Homeless People – S.B. 1045 allows a five-year pilot program for San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego Counties to take legal conservatorship and provide housing for individuals with serious mental illness and drug abuse disorders who refuse treatment and are frequently arrested by law enforcement.
- Secret Settlements – S.B. 820 ends confidentiality provisions in workplace legal settlements that muzzle victims of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace and ends confidentiality of repeat offenders from having their names disclosed. The California Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill's one-sided loss of privacy protections and forcing employers to litigate more claims to protect their public images.
- Women on Corporate Boards – S.B. 826 forces publicly traded companies headquartered in California to appoint at least one female director by Dec. 31, 2019 and requires corporations with five directors to have at least two female directors by 2021.
- Net Neutrality – S.B. 822 restored Obama's FCC regulating the internet like the old AT&T monopoly that was dumped by the Trump administration. Silicon Valley blatantly sought reinstatement of Obama subsidies slowing new innovations and higher speeds.
Brown and his Democrat allies ran out of time in 2018 to link California's electrical grid with those in other states, expand health care to Medicare for All, levy a voluntary tax to clean up toxic tap water, set higher standards for police use of deadly force, force more housing development near transit corridors, and regulate flamethrowers.
Governor Brown did frustrate his Democrat allies by vetoing the following: S.B. 328 – preventing high schools from starting classes before 8:30 a.m.; S.B. 968 – requiring Cal State and U.C. campuses to provide a fixed ratio of mental health counselors; S.B. 905 – allowing nine cities to let bars serve until 4 A.M.; S.B. 539 – circumventing the Trump tax cuts' $10,000 federal limitation on deducting state and local taxes through school donations; S.B. 320 – requiring public universities to provide abortion pills; A.B. 186 – allowing clinics to serve as illegal drug "safe injection sites"; and A.B. 3080 – eliminating employers using mandatory arbitration and non-disparagement clauses in employment agreements.
CALmatters reported that California governor-elect Gavin Newsom promised early this month that he, after his inauguration on January 7, 2019 and with the huge Democrat majorities elected in both houses of the state Legislature, will pass a much broader social justice agenda. Newsom's top agenda goals include "Guaranteed Health Care for All," an affordable housing "Marshall Plan," a "Master Plan for Aging with Dignity," free college tuition, ending child poverty, and middle-class workforce strategy.