The big day where legislators decide the fate of more than 1,000 bills held in the “suspense file” has come and gone.
On Thursday, the Assembly appropriations committee killed 220 bills and passed 535, while the Senate committee killed 90 and approved 326. The bills that survived still must advance through floor votes before June 2 to stay alive for this session.
The biannual culling of bills that have a fiscal impact of at least $50,000 took place while the state tackles a $31.5 billion shortfall — a challenge recognized by Assemblymember Chris Holden, a Pasadena Democrat and chairperson of the appropriations committee.
- Holden: “It is a different time that we have to operate in, so it is a lens that we have to look through all the bills. To the extent there were some real pressures that we thought we needed to address, we did.”
For more details about this session’s suspense file results, get the full rundown from the CalMatters’ team. Here are some of the biggest winners and losers that emerged from Thursday’s hearings:
The oil industry: Several bills that would have held oil companies more accountable did not advance. One would have made them liable for illnesses caused by operations near residences, schools, and hospitals, while another would have further expanded California’s greenhouse gas emissions goals.
Legislative staff union supporters: The bill that would give legislative staffers the right to unionize heads for a floor vote. Though previous efforts failed, the bill’s author, Assemblymember Tina McKinnor, a Democrat from Inglewood, told CalMatters that this year, “the political will is here.”
Building trades council, sort of: A bill that would renew a law to expedite affordable housing survived, but with some notable tweaks. The law lets developers skip a few permitting steps if construction crews are paid a higher wage or are union workers. Though the union-hire criterion was almost nixed (to the dismay of the trades council), the language stayed for some projects.
Poor families: Two bills aimed to support low-income families won’t make it into law this year. One would have raised the minimum payout provided through the state Earned Income Tax Credit and the other would have extended a tax credit for families with children.
Homelessness advocates: Bills that would have pushed cities to do more towards supporting homelessness died. One would have required cities to plan enough housing for their entire homeless populations. The other would have made it easier to build temporary housing on vacant land.
Abortion rights activists, sort of: In a state that voted to enshrine abortion access in its constitution, legislators handed activists a rare loss by killing a bill that would have required the state’s health department to launch a public awareness campaign against misleading information from crisis pregnancy centers.
About the Author
Lynn La is the WhatMatters newsletter writer. Prior to joining CalMatters, she developed thought leadership at an ed-tech company and was a senior editor at CNET. She also covered public health at The Sacramento Bee as a Kaiser media fellow and was an intern reporter at Capitol Weekly. She’s a graduate of UC Davis and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom committed to explaining California policy and politics.