You may have noticed a flurry of news articles in recent weeks about laws being proposed in California that would address everything from weed convictions to the hunting of feral pigs.
The state legislative session kicked off on Jan. 3 and legislators have until Feb. 18 to introduce everything they hope to get passed this year. That means we are right in the middle of the Season of New Bills.
Dozens have been introduced already, and they tackle issues around gun violence, income inequality, Covid-19 vaccines, catalytic converter thefts and more.
At the moment, all these bills are essentially just ideas and have a long way to go before becoming laws, if they ever make it that far. Each would need approval from the Assembly, the Senate and Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Still, many of these proposals will undoubtedly lead to discussion over the next several months as lawmakers consider whether to push them forward.
Today and tomorrow I’ll be walking you through some of the new bills currently being weighed in the Legislature.
S.B. 878: Free transportation for students
Unlike some other states, California does not require that school districts provide students bus transportation to school. Some financially struggling districts have even cut their fleets of yellow buses altogether and encouraged children to take city buses to campus.
This bill would provide state funding for daily transportation for all of California’s six million K-12 students starting in 2023. All public and noncharter schools would be required to offer students free transportation to and from school, which supporters say will reduce absenteeism and improve graduation rates.
S.B. 846: Getting cocktails delivered
This bill would allow bars and restaurants to deliver alcoholic drinks. Under the proposal, both the customer and the delivery driver must be at least 21.
Read more from KCRA 3.
A.B. 1636: Tightening restrictions on sex-offending doctors
Currently, California physicians who lose their licenses for sexual misconduct can later have them reinstated. This bill would permanently ban these doctors from practicing medicine.
The proposal came after a Los Angeles Times investigation found that the Medical Board of California had reinstated 10 physicians since 2013 who lost their licenses for sexual misconduct. They included two doctors who abused teenage girls and one who beat two female patients when they reported him for sexually exploiting them, the newspaper reported.
S.B. 871: Mandatory Covid vaccinations for students
In October, Newsom made California the first state to require Covid-19 vaccines for all schoolchildren, pending full approval by the Food and Drug Administration of the shots for those age groups.
But Newsom’s order allows parents to opt out of vaccinating their children by saying it goes against their personal or religious beliefs. This proposal would limit vaccine exemptions to only medical reasons, as is already the case in California for other mandatory childhood vaccines.
Read more from Politico.
S.B. 866: Vaccinations for teenagers without parental consent
For the most part, minors ages 12 to 17 cannot be vaccinated in California without permission from their parents or guardians.
But under this proposal, the parental requirement for that age group would be lifted for any vaccine that has been approved by the F.D.A. and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes immunizations against the coronavirus as well as other contagious diseases.
S.B. 915: No more gun shows on state property
This proposal would ban the sale of firearms or ammunition on state property, effectively barring gun shows from being held at any of the state’s 73 state fairgrounds.
“California should not be profiting off the sale of guns — it’s blood money,” Dave Min, a state senator from Irvine who introduced the bill, said at a news conference.
A.B. 1709: $500 for donating blood
The United States, and California specifically, has a severe shortage of blood that has led to hospital closures and delays in urgent medical treatments.
This bill would incentivize Californians to give blood by providing a $500 tax credit to people who donate at least four times in a year.
Read more from KTLA.
If you read one story, make it this
A Silicon Valley town called itself a big cat habitat to block housing. Then it reversed course.
The rest of the news
Mike Karbassi: The Fresno council member is leaning toward running for the 27th Assembly District, The Fresno Bee reports.
Future quake: The Cascadia fault off the Pacific Northwest coast is due for a massive earthquake, which would most likely put parts of Northern California under 10 feet or more of water.
What you get
Where we’re traveling
Today’s travel tip comes from Coleen Hefley, who lives in Santa Ynez. Coleen recommends Ferndale in Humboldt County:
“Small population. Elegant Victorian homes and businesses. Happy cows — I swear they are smiling in the pastures. No paid parking, even at the beach. Happy, neighborly people. Roomy. Lost Coast where you can drive by the coast for miles and see no other cars. Just pull off the side of the road and walk to the water. Clean. No signs telling you not to litter. Please just naturally act responsibly. Beautiful valleys and hills and pastures. Redwood forests close by.
My favorite pastime while I’m visiting: looking at the dairy cattle munch on the pasture grass. Just lazy cows living the best life possible. I want to lay on my back in one of those green pastures, put a stick of grass in my mouth, and look up at the sky.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtod[email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, we’re asking about love: not who you love, but what you love about your corner of California.
Email us a love letter to your California city, neighborhood or region — or to the Golden State as a whole — and we may share it in an upcoming newsletter. You can reach the team at [email protected].
And before you go, some good news
A wildfire in 2020 ripped through the densest Joshua tree forest in the world — “an outright disaster” given that the trees are found only in the southwestern United States, The Guardian reports.
But following the destruction, a group of volunteers is working with the National Park Service to replant these trees.
A Guardian reporter recently visited the site of the fire — Cima Dome in San Bernardino — as 18 volunteers embarked on a plan to plant 1,500 seedlings.
Joshua trees typically have a life span of 150 years. So if all goes according to plan, these saplings will become a fixture of the preserve for a long, long time.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Eel, on a sushi menu (5 letters).
Mariel Wamsley and Jonah Candelario contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].
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