Huge Victories for the Environment as the Legislative Year Hits the Midway Mark

Today marks the legislative deadline for all bills introduced this year to move out of their first house. That means all bills introduced in the Assembly had to pass out of the Assembly and those introduced in the Senate had to pass out of the Senate.

This week Legislators passed bills that reduce waste in our landfills, protect and improve drinking water quality, ensure there is no net loss of state park lands and legislation that would eliminate carcinogenic polystyrene in take-out containers. Bills passed to allow public access to information regarding the chemicals used in oil fracking, water well logs, and the prime groundwater recharge areas in the state. Below are a few of the highlights of the bills still alive half-way through the legislative session. To read the full list of environmental victories click here.

AB 341 (Chesbro) – Bill presents a package of policies that will move California forward from land filling to waste reduction, recycling, and composting, by setting a statewide diversion goal of 75% and finally expanding recycling opportunities to the state’s largest underserved sectors: businesses and apartment buildings.

AB 359 (Huffman) – Bill promotes the management and protection of the state’s groundwater supplies by requiring, as a condition of receiving a state grants or loans, local water agencies to map the recharge areas that substantially contribute to the replenishment of the groundwater basin. The bill also requires local groundwater agencies to submit recharge maps to local planning agencies and expand public notification when preparing and approving groundwater plans.

AB 703 (Gordon) – This bill would continue a 40-year legislative legacy of providing property tax incentives for non-profit ownership and stewardship of open-space and park lands. Lands benefiting from the current exemption complement existing local, state, and federal park lands, and they do so without drawing upon scarce public funds. They are managed solely by non-profit organizations to achieve lasting and cost-effective benefits to the public.

SB 244 (Wolk) –  This bill, seeks to provide underserved communities with basic needs such as clean drinking water and adequate sewage disposal by requiring that cities and counties indentify and include unincorporated island, fringe, or legacy communities in their plans, data and analysis, goals, and implementation measures. This bill, along with AB 685 (Eng), AB 938 (V. Manuel Pérez), AB 983 (Perea), and AB 1221 (Alejo) are the Human Right to Water bills still active this session.

SB 517 (Lowenthal) – Bill would reorder the High-Speed Rail Authority in order to establish a well-informed body that is more accountable to the state of California. In addition to other revisions, this bill would place the Authority within the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and require the members of the authority appointed by the Governor to be appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate. (PCL Lead Sponsor)

SB 535 (De León) – This bill establishes the CA Communities Healthy Air Revitalization Trust. The Trust ensures we meet the promise of AB 32 to protect and strengthen CA’s most disadvantaged communities by providing these communities with AB 32-related green economic investments. Does NOT authorize a new tax or fee, rather it directs 10 cents of each AB 32 revenue dollar in the neighborhoods which will suffer first and worst from the climate crisis.

SB 568 (Lowenthal) –  Bill would eliminate polystyrene foam food take-out containers state-wide, thereby reducing public and worker exposure to Styrene, a carcinogen in lab animals that migrates from foam containers into food and beverages.

SB 580 (Wolk) – Bill establishes strong protections for state parks and advances a principle of “no net loss” of state park lands. If a situation arises that pits state parks against another competing public interest, this bill would ensure there is no net loss of park resources for theCalifornia public.