Let’s End the Suspense


On Thursday, the Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees held their “suspense hearings.”

For those of you who are not Capitol insiders, every bill that has a fiscal impact greater than $150,000 is sent to the “suspense file”.  Every one of these bills is weighed against one another for their fiscal impact at one big hearing.  Those that are “let off of suspense” move on to votes of the full Assembly or Senate.  Those that are “held on suspense” die a quick death.  All bills approved by the Appropriations Committee must pass their house of original by May 28 to move forward.

Here’s what happened to a few of the interesting bills Right by the Bay has been covering this year.

Newsom CARE Court Plan Gets Key Approval 

In his January budget proposal, Gov. Newsom proposed a so-called CARE Court proposal to put mentally ill homeless individuals in a court-ordered care plan for 24 months.  Despite opposition from the ACLU, legislation implement the Governor’s plan (Senate Bill 1338) passed the Senate Appropriations Committee.

As I wrote previously, “Newsom’s proposal is a step in the right direction of what must be done to get the perilous trifecta (of those who are homeless, mentally ill, and substance abusers) off the streets and on the road to recovery.”  However, similar proposals by Newsom were analyzed in PRI’s No Way Home book, which suggests that proposals like CARE Court might not have enough teeth in them to succeed and may face also tough scrutiny from the courts if signed into law.

Will Legislature Pass Another CEQA Reform Bill? 

In the aftermath of a court ruling that drew national attention that threatened to deny over 3,000 perspective students a slot at UC Berkeley this fall due to a California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit, Sen. Scott Wiener introduced legislation to let state public colleges and universities build student housing without lengthy environmental reviews.  His measure, Senate Bill 886, cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee suspense file.

But as Chris Carr of Paul Hastings, LLP, co-author of PRI’s “CEQA Gauntlet” study wrote, “this would continue the Legislature’s practice of enacting narrow CEQA exemptions or providing “streamlining” for certain popular or politically-favored projects.”  Instead, he argues that “lawmakers should summon the courage to enact comprehensive reforms needed to fix the worst abuses of CEQA.”

You’ll Still Have to Work a Five Day Work Week 

One bill that generated a lot of buzz this year was legislation to reduce California’s work week from 40 hours to 32 hours for companies with more than 500 employees, and require overtime pay for working over 32 hours (Assembly Bill 2932).  Alas, workers looking for a shorter work week didn’t get their wish.  This bill was so controversial that it was shelved even before the Appropriations Committee had a chance to “hold it on suspense.”

As PRI’s Kerry Jackson wrote of the bill earlier this year, “legislators truly interested in freeing workers would instead of mandating a shorter work week repeal 2019’s Assembly Bill 5, which outlawed most gig work before some exemptions were granted based on political influence.”

Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s senior director of communications and the Sacramento office.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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