Update: See what lawmakers did on the final day of the 2020 legislative session here.
Monday caps off a strange and stressful legislative session in California, complicated by the coronavirus pandemic that kept lawmakers out of the Capitol for weeks at a time.
Lawmakers have less than 24 hours to vote on some of the most substantive and controversial bills of the session. Gov. Gavin Newsom signaled he is open to calling a special legislative session, giving lawmakers more time to pass bills, but only if it’s absolutely necessary.
Here’s a look at some of the notable bills to keep an eye on.
Evictions are currently on hold in California, but that moratorium is set to expire this week. Newsom and legislative leaders announced a deal on AB 3088 late Friday that would pause evictions through January 31 as a result of unpaid rent during the first six months of the pandemic. To be eligible for the protections, renters would have to fill out documents certifying they were impacted by COVID-19 and pay at least 25 percent of their rent starting in September. No missed rent payments would be forgiven; landlords could recoup any unpaid sums in small claims court starting in March.
Evictions not related to unpaid rent — as a result of nuisance complaints or the owner remodeling, for example — could restart when the current eviction moratorium ends September 2. The legislation would also offer some foreclosure protections for small landlords.
Another bill, SB 1079, would block corporations from buying bundles of foreclosed homes. Instead, the homes would have to be sold individually, which could give individual homeowners a better chance at buying the foreclosed properties. Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Democrat from Berkeley who authored the bill, argues “the corporate takeover of housing was, and continues to be, devastating for low- and moderate-income families.”
As a summer filled with civil unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd draws to a close, advocates for police reform are watching California’s Democrat-dominated Legislature for signs of progress. Some proposals have already stalled and law enforcement groups are trying to pump the breaks on a handful of others, citing the need for more time and debate.
SB 731 would lay out a process for stripping the badges from officers convicted of certain crimes or fired for misconduct. California is one of only a handful of states that does not have a similar law on the books.
AB 1506 would require a state prosecutor to investigate any police killings of unarmed civilians, removing the duty from local district attorneys. Following a passionate debate Sunday, the Senate approved the measure, which now only needs a procedural vote in the Assembly before heading to Newsom’s desk.
Racial Justice and Equality
And there’s appetite among lawmakers for racial reforms in other areas, too.
A bill to create a reparations task force, which would study and recommend some type of compensation for African-Americans and descendants of slaves, got final approval Sunday night and is heading to Newsom’s desk.
AB 979 would require public companies headquartered in California to have at least one board member from an under-represented community — based on race, ethnicity and sexual orientation and identity — by the end of next year. Lawmakers sent it to Newsom late Sunday night.
Lawmakers are also considering two proposals aimed at making juries more diverse and representative of their communities. Sen. Scott Wiener is sponsoring SB 592, which would require courts to draw potential jurors from a list of California tax filers, rather than registered voters and licensed drivers.
AB 3070 would make it more difficult for attorneys to strike people from juries through peremptory challenge, a mechanism Sen. Scott Wiener argued bars “entire black and brown communities” from participating on juries. However, the bill failed to garner a majority of votes Sunday and could be in trouble in Monday’s remaining hours.
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