The final day of California’s legislative session is here.
That means we’ve reached the last, harried hours for lawmakers to pass any remaining bills for 2023, on tackling the state’s housing crisis, labor battles, fentanyl problem or anything else.
Each year, lawmakers tend to delay decisions on the highest-profile and most contentious bills until the very end of the legislative session, which makes the final few days particularly hectic. After today, legislators aren’t scheduled to reconvene until January. (Though California has two-year legislative sessions and the current one runs through next November, Capitol insiders refer to the annual deadline for floor votes as the “end of session.”)
A major compromise has already been reached this week between labor groups and fast-food companies, paving the way for workers to be paid a minimum wage of $20 an hour. An attempt to bail out home insurance companies has apparently failed for now. Lawmakers approved a bill limiting who could carry guns in public, setting up a fight that some believe could end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.
I reported on Wednesday from the State Capitol in Sacramento, where the Senate and Assembly held lengthy floor sessions to make their way through hundreds of bills. A piece of legislation needs approval from both chambers — and must have any amendments approved by the originating house — in order to reach Gov. Gavin Newsom, who can either sign or veto it. (The Legislature can override a governor’s veto, but rarely does so.)
The Senate chamber, an opulent hall with burgundy carpets, crystal chandeliers and an immense oil portrait of George Washington, was standing-room-only several times during the day, as legislative staff members and reporters packed in to watch major votes unfold.
That was the case when the Senate held the final vote on a bill expanding the mandatory minimum paid sick leave for workers in California to five days, from three. And the chamber was especially crowded when lawmakers considered legislation strengthening penalties for child sex traffickers, which caused a rift among Democrats this year because of concerns that stepped-up criminal prosecution could ensnare survivors, too.
The bill, which the Senate passed Wednesday afternoon, would make the sex trafficking of minors an offense that triggers California’s “three strikes” law, allowing prosecutors to pursue life sentences in some cases. The measure now heads to Newsom, who posted his support for it on social media this week.
“We will no longer stand by and tolerate this,” Shannon Grove, the Republican state senator who introduced the bill, said on the floor Wednesday afternoon. “You will serve a lengthy prison sentence if you try to perpetrate this crime against our children.”
Newsom also signed a bill on Wednesday rescinding a ban on taxpayer-funded travel by state agencies and departments to states that have enacted anti-L.G.B.T.Q. laws. With so many states passing legislation targeting transgender people, the number of states that California was boycotting had grown to 24, and state lawmakers said the bans were having little positive effect, while hurting government operations in California.
The legislation that Newsom approved lifts the travel restriction and creates a statewide public awareness campaign to promote the inclusivity of the state’s L.G.B.T.Q. community. “This measure helps California’s message of acceptance, equality and hope reach the places where it is most needed,” the governor said in a statement.
Here are some more bills the Legislature has passed. The governor has until Oct. 14 to sign or veto them.
A landmark bill approved this week would require major companies to publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions. The move could have global repercussions in the fight against climate change.
California could become the first state to ban caste discrimination. The bill has led to intense debate among South Asian immigrants.
Citing a New York Times investigation, legislators voted to require employers — not workers — to pay for mandatory food safety training for restaurant workers.
California could become the 19th state to install speed cameras that automatically issue tickets to the owners of speeding cars. The measure is aimed at reducing the unusually high pedestrian death rate in the state.
Legislators passed a bill on Wednesday that prohibits schools from suspending students for behavior like talking back to a teacher or falling asleep in class. The bill would cover students in grades 6 to 12, and apply through July 2029; state law already protects younger students from such suspensions.
Under a bill passed this week, California employers with 50 or more workers would be required to give 75 days’ notice of impending layoffs; the state currently requires 60 days’ notice.
Where we’re traveling
Today’s tip comes from Michelle Dowell:
“I have lived in California for 48 years and have traveled through it extensively. There are a few places that we try to get to every year, and to me, they are magical places:
Yosemite in the fall or winter. Staying at the park at Yosemite West gives us easy access to many adventures. We almost always have the joy and luck of snow to go sledding with our kids.
Lake Tahoe in the summer. Sand Harbor is worth the early rise, and a visit to the falls and swimming holes of Fallen Leaf Lake is so special. In the last two trips we have floated down the Truckee River, and it is an all-day adventure that is a new tradition.
And what would California be without manufactured fun? It gets less affordable every year, but when we can swing it, Disneyland is the most magical place on earth. January, when Christmas décor is still up but the crowds are winding down, has always been a great time to go.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
And before you go, some good news
The bustling streets of North Hollywood will get a change of pace on Sunday for CicLAmini—North Hollywood, an open-streets event that will convert sections of three neighborhood arteries into a mile of car-free space for the day.
The event, hosted by CicLAvia, a nonprofit that organizes open-street events across Los Angeles County, will close a stretch of Lankershim Boulevard between Chandler Boulevard and Camarillo Street, transforming it into a public green space through which visitors may walk, skate, bike — or traverse on any foot-powered vehicle of their choice.
Along the path will be an array of recreational activities, including art workshops and street games, as well as two official walking zones with public restrooms, water stations and basic bike repair.
Inspired by a weekly open street event in Bogotá, Colombia, called Ciclovía, CicLAvia has hosted 46 events since its establishment in 2010. The gatherings aim to curb pollution and encourage a more sustainable vision of L.A. by connecting residents with their neighborhoods and local businesses.