North Bay representatives in the California State Legislature were busy bees in 2011, going to bat on a wide range of issues and introducing 20 bills that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law. Those laws went into effect Jan. 1.
For state Assemblyman , 10 of the 23 laws he introduced in 2011 became law Sunday, including an to the state budget crisis.
In a note to constituents last week, Huffman said he was particularly proud of AB 361, which creates a new type of corporation that blends corporate and social responsibility called a “benefit corporation,” allowing California businesses balance the pursuit of profits with environmental and social goals.
Huffman said the new law was in line with his five-year-old Sustainable North Bay Award program, which honors company who are "providing jobs and contributing to our economic recovery, but are also incorporating environmental stewardship and social responsibility into their businesses."
"This approach fosters the triple bottom line of people, planet and profits," Huffman said of AB 361.
See below for the list of Huffman's laws that went into effect Jan. 1.
Leno, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, said he focused this year on the economic struggles California continues to go through. Of the 20 bills he introduced, a number were aimed at small businesses, healthcare reform, and economic recovery -- though not all of those became law.
"This year has been one of success and struggle for many Californians," Leno wrote in a letter to constituents before the holiday. "In 2011, we witnessed a few encouraging signs of economic recovery and we significantly reduced the state’s structural budget deficit."
Leno also introduced SB 790, aimed at helping communities create community-choice aggregation programs. The bill was particularly inspired by Marin's success and struggles launching the Marin Energy Authority.
Here are Jared Huffman's 10 bills that became law on Jan. 1:
AB 42 - State Parks Funding: Provides authority for the Department of Parks & Recreation to enter into operating agreements with non-profit organizations in order to avoid or minimize state park closures resulting from California's fiscal crisis.
AB 359 - Groundwater Management Plans: Promotes the management and protection of the state's groundwater supplies by requiring, as a condition of receiving specified 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 expands public notification when preparing and approving groundwater plans.
AB 361 - Benefit Corporations: This bill creates a new type of corporation that blends corporate and social responsibility called a “benefit corporation.” Whereas current law requires corporations to prioritize shareholder profits, AB 361 creates a new voluntary entity to let California businesses balance the pursuit of profits with environmental and social goals. Benefit corporations will operate under a broadened fiduciary duty that allows business leaders, shareholders and employees to include environmental stewardship and community development as well as profitability in their companies' missions. This approach fosters the triple bottom line of people, planet and profits.
AB 376 (Joint Author with Paul Fong) - Shark Fin Ban: AB 376 makes the possession, sale and distribution of shark fins illegal in California. When signed into law, this bill will curb demand for a luxury item that results in the slaughter of millions of sharks each year. The ongoing and devastating reduction in shark numbers and species related to harvesting shark fins is directly related to collapses of other species and, potentially, of entire ocean ecosystems.
AB 686 - Local Sales Tax Proposals: This bill provides greater flexibility for local governments and protects local taxpayers against unnecessarily high sales tax measures by authorizing cities and counties to propose measures of 1/8-cent, instead of the current minimum of ¼-cent, to pay for local services such as public safety, schools, roads, parks, or libraries. This allows local governments to raise a more targeted amount of money to meet specific community needs, while retaining existing requirements for voter approval of tax measures.
AB 741 - Wastewater Infrastructure Replacement: This bill expands an existing law to permit local agencies to use creative financing to fix aging and dilapidated septic and sewer infrastructure, which will help prevent sewage spills and groundwater contamination.
AB 964 - Small Irrigation Registration: AB 964 would provide growers with a water right in the form of a small irrigation use registration. The right can be applied to irrigation, heat control, or frost protection uses of less than 20 acre-feet per year. For example, a vineyard could register an off-stream pond to draw from for frost protection, instead of directly from the stream, and thus reduce the instantaneous impacts to fish.
AB 1059 – Emergency Medical Care: Requires counties to report on the collection and distribution of Maddy Emergency Medical Services (EMS) funds, which provide reimbursement to physicians and hospitals for treating uninsured patients receiving emergency care in the emergency room, to ensure that every dollar is spent appropriately.
AB 1103 - Affordable Housing Flexibility: This bill allows a city or county to accommodate a portion of its housing element needs for lower-income households through the provision of financial assistance to convert foreclosed homes to affordable units.
AB 1112 - Oil Spill Prevention: To keep California's oil spill prevention agencies solvent and able to protect California's pristine coastlines from economically devastating oil spills, this bill will increase the Oil Spill Prevention Administration Fund revenues to meet current inflation levels; require the Office of Spill Prevention & Response (OSPR) to identify the highest risk oil transfer operations and increase their monitoring of those transfers; and require offshore oil drilling rigs to have contingency plans in the event of a blowout preventer failure to prevent a Gulf Coast-like tragedy from happening in California.
Here are Mark Leno's 10 bills that became law on Jan. 1:
SB 32 - Small Business Regulation Reform: Allows state’s outdated alcoholic beverage law to permit bars and restaurants'practice of creating “infusions” from flavoring alcohol with fruits, vegetables, herbs or spices. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had previously interpreted a post-prohibition law as banning this practice, so this bill would clarify that infusions are legal.
SB 48 - FAIR Education Act: Adds lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) to the existing list of underrepresented groups that are required to be included in textbooks and other instructional materials in schools. This would ensure that LGBT Americans are recognized for their important contributions to California.
SB 651 - Domestic Partnership Equality Act: By maintaining different requirements for domestic partners and married couples, California law has been currently inconsistent with the State Supreme Court’s ruling that all couples in domestic partnerships be treated equally. This measure would eliminate a number of inequities that exist between marriage and domestic partnerships, including residency requirements, age of consent to marry, and the exclusion of domestic partners from long-term insurance benefits.
SB 687 - In-Custody Informant Testimony: This bill would improve the quality of evidence presented at criminal trials by creating higher standards for the use of uncorroborated testimony from informants who are already prison inmates. It would also make it harder for judges and juries to use solely uncorroborated testimony from jailhouse informants.
SB 705 – Gas Pipeline Safety Act: In the wake of the San Bruno explosion and other deadly utility disasters, this bill would declare that safety must be a utility priority as a matter of state policy. The bill authorizes additional revenue to increase staffing levels for safety-related activities, while at the same time giving assurances to consumers that these funds will actually be spent for safety.
SB 790 - Community Choice Aggregation: This bill will help communities that want to manage their own electricity procurement and generation needs through the state’s existing Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program by removing unnecessary burdens and undue constraints in the existing process.
SB 819 – Armed Prohibited Persons: Removes firearms from certain with disqualifying conditions, such as a felony conviction or mental illness. By granting greater authority to use existing resources, this bill also enables the Department of Justice to improve California’s Armed Prohibited Persons System, which uses background checks to identify individuals who are no longer permitted to own a firearm.
SB 826 – Workers’ Compensation Compliance: Improves the state’s workers’ compensation system by enabling the Department of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) to improve compliance with existing requirements. Grants limited penalty authority to the DWC for the non-compliance of data reporting requirements.
SB 850 – Electronic Health Records: This bill would improve the standards for accuracy and integrity of electronic health records. Although federal healthcare reform requires the use of electronic medical records, federal regulations are insufficient to ensure accurate recordkeeping that is essential for better patient outcomes.
SB 897 – RCFE Residents Foreclosure Protection Act: SB 897 protects elderly residents living in Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) from the physical and emotional upheaval that results from unexpected and abrupt foreclosures. Under this bill, California’s 8,000 RCFEs must provide timely notification to residents, their legal representatives, and the state should the facility fall into severe financial distress or foreclosure.