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Legislative Report - April 2022

The California Legislature returned to Sacramento in January to kickstart the second half of the 2021-22 legislative session.  They were welcomed with a new office building referred to as the “swing space” that will be their home away from home while the Capitol annex undergoes a major revision.  The building presents challenges to public access as entry is limited to invitation only and meeting rooms are few and far between.  Despite Speaker Anthony Rendon’s decree, “Now get to work!,” legislators were also faced with the COVID-19 Omicron surge, which saw early floor sessions curtailed due to excessive absences.

Legislators also commenced the new year under the cloud of redistricting, which occurs every 10 years.  The redrawing of jurisdictional district lines has already led to over 20 sitting legislators announcing they will not seek reelection.  Accordingly, 2022 will provide an unprecedented influx of new members although demographic research suggests the Democratic majority will not be threatened and may even increase.

The first order of business occurred on January 10th when Governor Newsom unveiled his 2022-23 State Budget Proposal.  The $286.4 billion State Budget mirrors last year’s by including a healthy surplus estimated to be $45.7 billion.  Environmental improvements including wildfire prevention, forest health, climate resilience and beautification are high priority items in the Governor’s blueprint.  Pandemic response and homelessness remain targets for funding in 2022.  The legislative process of conducting budget subcommittee hearings on every aspect of the Budget Proposal has begun in earnest and will continue until final resolution is negotiated with the Governor in time for the new fiscal year to begin on July 1, 2022.

As anticipated, an early budget action package was signed into law in February to extend the COVID-19 paid leave law for workers and allocating $46.1 billion in business tax relief and grants related to the ongoing pandemic.  Senate Bill 113 (Committee on Budget) provides the funding, which includes restoration of $5.5 billion in research and development tax credits and the net operating loss deduction, $500 million for restaurants and sheltered venues and $150 million for small business grants.  Senate Bill 114 (Committee on Budget) extends the COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave for workers.  Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees are now exempt from the law, which has been made retroactive to January 1, 2022, and runs until September 30, 2022.

Two important holdover measures introduced last year remain alive.  Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 1 (Aguiar-Curry), if approved by the voters, would amend the state constitution to allow cities, counties, and special districts to pass bond measures or impose special taxes to fund affordable housing and public infrastructure improvements with a 55% vote rather than a 2/3rds vote.  Assembly Bill 30 (Kalra) would establish access to nature to be a human right and call upon all relevant state agencies to devise programs to encourage outdoor activities.  Although the bill is vague on details, it is designed to be a focal point to improve access to nature for all citizens.

In addition to monitoring proposed legislation in the Capitol, CARPD is also actively tracking a proposed Ballot Initiative with the potential to affect member districts. Specifically, the “Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act” is far-reaching in its proposed effort to limit voter input on local advisory measures. This Initiative will be one to watch as we approach the 2022 election.

Finally, the CARPD Legislative Committee meets on May 5th to continue review of all bills expected to have significant impact on recreation and park agencies in the State. If you are interested in participated, please contact CARPD Executive Director, Matthew Duarte, at mduarte@capri-jpa.org.

 

Russ Noack

Public Policy Advocates, LLC

 

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