17 of California’s New Laws for the New Year

South San Francisco, CA   December 20, 2016  Press Release from Senator Jerry Hill

California Senator Jerry Hill

17 Hill Bills Lead to Laws Making Californians Safer
From Drunk Drivers, Earthquakes and More

SACRAMENTO — Laws to protect Californians from DUI offenders, help establish an earthquake early warning system, reform the California Public Utilities Commission, increase oversight of building contractors, require police to securely stow any handgun left in a car, improve tour bus safety, crack down on water-guzzling households, and more take effect on January 1.
The new laws are the result of 17 bills that were introduced by Senator Jerry Hill, passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2016.

Here are summaries of the bills that led to the new laws and what they do:

Senate Bill 24 – JPA Pension Fix for San Mateo County

Resolves a pension problem that prevented the cities of San Mateo, Belmont and Foster City from completing their Joint Powers Agreement for shared fire service. It allows the three cities to provide the JPA employees a defined benefit plan that those employees received as “classic” CalPERS members from their previous employment with the cities. San Mateo County Firefighters and the California Professional Firefighters supported SB 24, along with the cities of San Mateo, Belmont and Foster City.

SB 62 – California Public Utilities Commission Office of the Safety Advocate

Establishes the Office of the Safety Advocate within the California Public Utilities Commission to advocate for continuous, cost-effective improvement of safety management and safety performance of public utilities.

SB 438 – Earthquake Early Warning Implementation

Complements the $10 million included in the 2016-2017 budget for the statewide earthquake early warning system by establishing the Earthquake Early Warning Advisory Board within the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. The new law brings California closer to statewide implementation of the earthquake early warning system. In emergencies, the alerts sent by the warning system will help prevent devastating and life-threatening missteps. Governor Brown’s announcement of his signing the bill is here and view video of the press conference held at the Office of Emergency Services headquarters here.

SB 465 – Building Construction Contractors: Discipline, Reporting and Building Standards

SB 465 is aimed at increasing oversight of contractors by closing the gaps in information that were revealed by the collapse of a balcony at a Berkeley apartment building on June 16, 2015. Ashley Donohoe, 22, of Rohnert Park, her cousin, Olivia Burke, 21, of Ireland, and four of their friends were killed. Seven other students from Ireland, including Aoife Beary who had been celebrating her 21st birthday, were hospitalized for weeks after the balcony gave way and sent them plummeting five stories to the ground.

Aoife Beary, her mother Angela, Ashley Donohoe’s mother, Jackie, and representatives of the Irish Consulate testified to policy committees in the Capitol about the devastating loss felt by families from California to Ireland – and urged legislators to support SB 465, which was co-authored by Senator Loni Hancock, D-Oakland.

The new law:
Requires California’s Department of Industrial Relations and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to transmit information to the Contractors State License Board about any actions taken against CSLB licensees.
Authorizes the CSLB to enter into agreements with other state and local agencies in order to receive information about any actions those agencies take against licensed contractors.
Requires licensed contractors to report to the CSLB within 90 days any convictions for felonies, or any other crimes substantially related to the licensees’ qualifications, functions and duties.
Directs the CSLB to study judgments, arbitration awards and settlements of claims of construction defects at rental residential units and report to the Legislature, by January 1, 2018, whether requiring licensees to report such dispositions would enable to the board to better protect the public.
Directs the working group formed by the California Building Standards Commission to study recent failures of elevated elements on the exterior of buildings in order to determine whether statutory changes or changes to the California Building Standards Code are necessary. The commission’s working group must submit its report on findings and recommendations to relevant legislative policy committees by January 1, 2018.

SB 512 – Governance, Accountability and Transparency at the California Public Utilities Commission

SB 512 reforms the governance structure of the California Public Utilities Commission by more clearly outlining the roles and responsibilities of commissioners and staff, and by requiring the CPUC to reach out to communities affected by CPUC decisions, instead of only to regulated utilities.

To do so, SB 512 makes the following statutory changes: It 1) requires the commission to annually approve performance criteria for the commission and the executive director, and to annually evaluate the performance of the executive director based on those criteria; 2) requires the CPUC to reach out to those affected by its proceedings; 3) requires CPUC judges to adhere to ethics provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act; 4) allows the public to receive hearing transcripts at no charge; 5) permits the CPUC to meet in locations other than San Francisco; 6) requires the CPUC to modify its annual report to clarify how long the CPUC takes to finish rate or penalty cases; and 7) allows local governments to receive intervenor compensation when participating in CPUC efforts to improve safety, enabling local governments that have suffered catastrophes to seek such compensation.

SB 661 – The Dig Safe Act of 2016

SB 661 addresses safety problems involving excavations and gas pipelines that are beneath soil or are otherwise underground by making clarifications to the so-called “one-call” law (“Call 811 before you dig”) and by creating the Safe Excavation Board, an appointed board of excavation stakeholders that is funded by fees on utilities. The board is to 1) investigate accidents and other “one-call” violations; 2) develop standards for safe excavation; and 3) coordinate education and outreach efforts.

SB 812 – Improving Tour Bus Safety

Improves the safety and oversight of tour buses operating in California by strengthening the California Highway Patrol’s tour bus inspection program. The law was prompted by a tour bus accident in San Francisco’s Union Square in November 2015 that injured 20 people, at least five critically. After the crash, the CHP determined that the bus had never been inspected and was not registered with the California Public Utilities Commission, as is required by law. The CHP later conducted a surprise inspection of the company’s bus fleet and found over 60 violations, 29 for mechanical problems.

SB 814 – Cracking Down on Water-Guzzling Households During a Drought

A winner of Senator Hill’s 2016 “Oughta Be a Law…Or Not” bill idea contest for constituents, SB 814 pulls the plug on excessive water use by households that flout mandatory reductions during drought emergencies. The law requires urban retail water suppliers to set rules for identifying and cracking down on households that consume enormous amounts of water despite restrictions imposed during a statewide declaration of a drought. The new law ensures that every urban retail water supplier has a tool to curb excessive water use by customers. Households that guzzle water – while neighbors and most other Californians abide by mandatory reductions – will no longer be able to hide and persist in their excess.

SB 869 – Safe Storage of Police Handguns in Vehicles

Another winner of Senator Hill’s 2016 “Oughta Be a Law…” contest, SB 869 responds to numerous thefts of handguns that law enforcement officers had left in cars. The stolen firearms included guns used in two murders in the Bay Area. SB 869 closes a legal loophole that had exempted law enforcement officers as well as concealed weapons permit holders from requirements to securely stow handguns in a lockbox out of plain view, or in the trunk, if the weapons are left in an unattended vehicle.

SB 996 – Affordable Housing Property Tax Cap

Aids local nonprofit and religious organizations that provide affordable housing by increasing the assessed property value exemption from $2,000,000 annually to $10,000,000 annually. The new law applies to three local nonprofits, such as the Saint Francis Center in Redwood City and the Ministry Services of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul based in Los Altos Hills, which provides housing, food and clothing services to low-income families. SB 996 provides property tax relief to such organizations so that they can continue to provide more affordable housing for low income people and families.

SB 1004 – Young Adult Offender Pilot Program

Hailed by Governor Brown for its innovation, SB 1004 authorizes a pilot program in five counties, including Santa Clara, to give nonviolent young adult offenders between the ages of 18 and 21 the opportunity to take advantage of supportive and educational services in the juvenile justice system, rather than serve their time in an adult county jail. Although legally considered adults, these young offenders are still undergoing significant brain development, and may be better served by the juvenile justice system with age-appropriate, intensive services. Research shows that people do not develop adult-caliber, decision-making skills until their early 20s. Psychologists note that this maturity gap makes young adults more likely to engage in risk-seeking behavior.

SB 1028 – Utility Wildfire Mitigation Plans

SB 1028 requires 1) utilities regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission to file wildfire mitigation plans, 2) the CPUC to review those plans, and 3) publicly-owned utilities to also file wildfire mitigation plans with their governing boards.

SB 1039 – Business and Professions Omnibus Bill

SB 1039 makes several changes to the statutes governing various boards and bureaus under the Department of Consumer Affairs; includes specified fee increases for several boards including the Dental Hygiene Committee of California, the California Board of Optometry, the Board of Registered Nursing, the Board of Pharmacy, and the Contractors State License Board; and eliminates the Telephone Medical Advice Services Bureau.
SB 1039 specifies that the continuing education standards established for nurses by the Board of Registered Nursing shall recognize specialized areas of practice, as previously required, and require that content be relevant to the practice of nursing, be related to the scientific knowledge or technical skills required for the practice of nursing, or be related to direct or indirect patient or client care. The legislation requires the nursing board to audit continuing education providers at least once every five years to ensure adherence to regulatory requirements. The new law also requires the board to withhold or rescind approval from any provider that is in violation of the regulatory requirements.

SB 1046 – Ignition Interlock Devices for Drunk Driving Offenders

Extends a pilot program requiring drunk driving offenders in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties to install the devices known as IIDs. IIDs are calibrated to the driver and prevent a car from starting if the driver is not sober. The four-county pilot would run until January 1, 2019, when the program would be expanded statewide with minor modifications so that:
A first conviction for driving drunk and causing injury would result in an IID being required for six months
With a first conviction for driving under the influence that did not involve injuries, the offender could choose to install and use an IID for six months, enabling full driving privileges – or choose a one-year restricted license, which would limit driving to travel to and from work or a treatment program.
A second DUI offense would result in a one-year IID requirement
A third DUI offense, a two-year IID requirement
A fourth DUI offense or more, a three-year IID requirement

SB 1046 also creates an early incentive program, providing DUI offenders with full driving privileges soon after arrest if they install an IID. Their ultimate IID time requirement would be reduced based on when the early installation occurred. Low income offenders would be eligible for assistance to pay for an IID based on a sliding scale pegged to household income.

SB 1192 – Private Post-Secondary Education

SB 1192 changes the California Private Post-Secondary Education Act of 2009 to improve the effectiveness of the Bureau for Private Post-Secondary Education and opportunities for student success, and extends the BPPE’s operations for four years.

SB 1193 – Healing Arts, Board of Pharmacy, Veterinary Medical Board Sunset Bill

SB 1193 makes changes to the Pharmacy Law, Veterinary Practice Act and Psychology Licensing Law to strengthen the laws and improve oversight of licensees by these boards.

SB 1196 – Professions and Vocations: Bureau of Real Estate, Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers, and Bureau of Security and Investigative Services Bill

SB 1196 ensures that the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services is subject to review by the appropriate policy committees of the Legislature. The legislation changes provisions in the Alarm Company Act, the Locksmith Act, the Private Investigator Act, the Private Security Services Act, Proprietary Security Services Act, and Collateral Recovery Act to improve the oversight, enforcement and regulation of licensees by the bureau. The bill also adds a sunset review date for the Bureau of Real Estate and the Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers, and changes existing laws to improve oversight, enforcement and regulation by the CalBRE and BREA.

SB 1196 includes several consumer protection and public safety reforms to operations and oversight by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, which licenses about 380,000 companies and employees that provide alarm services, locksmith services, private investigation, private security, repossession services and firearm and baton training.
The changes are intended to ensure that an applicant for licensure as an armed security guard is capable of exercising appropriate judgment, restraint and self-control; that armed security guards are qualified for their jobs, and that California regulators step up their policing of the industry.

SB 1196 also imposes stricter training standards and requirements to ensure that shootings and incidents of suspected excessive force are investigated. In addition, the new law enables gun permits to be revoked when warranted and improves oversight of companies.

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Resources:

To see Hill bills that are becoming law in 2017 along with legislative accomplishments from earlier years, go to http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/legislative-accomplishments

To view the bills Senator Hill has introduced this far for the 2017-2018 legislative session, go to: http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/2017-legislation

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