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It’s crunch time in the state legislature Friday, as bills introduced this year face a deadline to pass their Assembly or Senate, before going onto the other house and then the governor’s desk.

The bills that made it past this round include measures to tighten sexual predator placement, outlaw plastic bags, regulate AI and offer sober housing options.

The bills that moved forward did so with broad majorities, and often nearly unanimous votes. In most cases lawmakers who didn’t vote for them also didn’t vote against them, but simply sat out the vote. That fits a pattern in the California legislature that CalMatters flagged as an institutional reluctance to say “no” to fellow lawmakers.

Here’s a look at some of the hits and misses.

Sexual Predators

State Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones, R-San Diego, scored a tentative win with SB 1074, his bill to tighten rules for housing sexually violent predators.

Placement of released sex offenders has been a deep concern in San Diego, where numerous sex offenders are housed in rural neighborhoods.

Jones’ bill would require the director of state hospitals to sign off on rental leases before they’re signed, and make public safety a top priority in placement of violent sex offenders.

This was a long time coming; after three years of efforts to limit sexual predator placement, Jones said he was “thrilled” at bipartisan support for this year’s bill, which “will help fix this broken and alarming predator release program.”

Homelessness

Jones didn’t fare as well with his encampment bill, SB 1011, introduced with state Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-San Diego. It was modeled after a San Diego ordinance that bans public camping near sensitive sites, and on sidewalks if shelter space is available. The San Diego senators’ statewide version died in committee without a floor vote.

A bill by Assemblymember Chris Ward, D-San Diego, to allow state funding for sober housing options passed the Assembly. AB 2893 would allow the state to fund some housing emphasizing abstinence. This pits those who champion “housing first” policy against others who support sober housing for people who want it.

Environment and Coast

Blakespear succeeded in her plastic bag ban, SB1053. It would close loopholes to California’s first bag ban of 2016, which was panned as a failed policy that actually increased plastic waste. Blakespear’s bill would eliminate the thicker disposable bags that replaced flimsy ones, and ensure consumers use either fully reusable bags or paper bags at checkouts. A parallel bill, AB2236, also passed the Assembly, making it almost certain the new and improved bag ban will make it to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Blakespear also moved ahead with several coastal bills. SB 1077 would help cities update their local coastal plans to permit accessory dwelling units (also known as granny flats or casitas) in the coastal zone. SB 1092 calls for expediting appeals of Coastal Development Permits.

A bill to ensure accountability at the Port of San Diego, AB 2783, by Assemblymember David Alvarez, D-San Diego, passed the Assembly. His bill would set ethics standards for the beleaguered Port Commission, and dedicate some port revenue to convert industrial port properties in disadvantaged communities into “parks, plazas and promenades.”

Artificial Intelligence

Two of three bills that state Sen. Steve Padilla, D-San Diego, introduced to regulate AI sailed through the senate.

SB892 would set “safety, privacy, and nondiscrimination standards” for state contractors using AI technology. The second bill, SB893, would create a “California AI Research Hub,” of universities, business and government agencies to promote innovation in artificial intelligence while making sure it’s used responsibly.

His third AI bill, SB 1228, which would have required online platforms to verify users with large audiences or spreading large amounts of AI-generated content, died in committee.

Energy

Padilla also moves ahead with bill to boost California’s power grid, SB 1006. It would require the California Public Utilities Commission to hike electric capacity from about 46 gigawatts now to 165 gigawatts by 2045 and increase capacity on existing lines. Those upgrades are needed to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, Padilla said.

Reparations

Akilah Weber, D-La Mesa, advanced two bills on reparations. ACR-135 is a measure acknowledging California’s role in the “harms and atrocities” of chattel slavery. AB1815 would prohibit discrimination based on natural or protective hairstyles, within amateur sports.

Public Safety

Brian Maienshchein, D-San Diego, got two gun bills through the assembly. AB 2739, would authorize law enforcement to confiscate and destroy firearms illegally carried in public. AB 2519, would prevent people charged with violent misdemeanors from possessing firearms while completing court-ordered diversion.

As we reported in March, Maienshchein is running for San Diego City Attorney. His opponent, Deputy City Attorney Heather Ferber, slammed his gun bills as an election ploy, noting his vote against a key gun control measure 10 years ago.

Assemblymember Chris Ward’s bill punishing “hate littering” is also moving forward. AB 3024, would impose fines of up to $25,000 for distributing flyers targeting Jewish, LGBTQ and other communities. His bill follows an uptick in anti-semitic propaganda in the San Carlos and Del Cerro neighborhoods last fall.

School Privacy for Trans Students

Ward also took aim at school district rules requiring teachers to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender, following high-profile lawsuits about the policies.

This one’s a little different from the others, because it’s a new bill introduced under previously passed legislation. The original version of AB 1955 was a general bill aimed at student mental health, which passed the Assembly April 24.

This week Ward gutted the bill’s original language and replaced it with new provisions for trans student privacy. The new version would prohibit teachers from disclosing students’ sexual orientation and gender identities to parents, ban schools from adopting policies requiring such notification, prevent retaliation against teachers, and provide resources to LGBTQ students and their families, Ward said in a press conference this week.

Since the original bill already passed, the revised version doesn’t have to start from scratch in the Assembly. Instead it will go onto the Senate for consideration, and then back to the Assembly for a final vote there.

The Sacramento Report runs every Friday and is part of a partnership with CalMatters. Do you have tips, ideas or questions? Send them to me at deborah@planetcob.com.

Deborah writes the Sacramento Report and covers San Diego and Inland Empire politics for Planetcob, in partnership with CalMatters. She formerly...

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