South San Francisco, CA August 12, 2022 Submitted by Leslie Guevarra, Communications Director, Senator Becker’s Office
Senator Becker’s portfolio of climate action, social justice, economic equity, affordable housing and patient care bills now heads to the full Assembly for the final stretch of legislative reviews.
The powerful Assembly Appropriations Committee approved a dozen bills by the Peninsula Democrat, 11 of which were cleared by the committee Thursday as the deadline for fiscal reviews approached.
“I’m grateful to all my bill partners, community advocates and legislative colleagues whose support helped these measures reach this critical stage,” Senator Becker said.
The Legislature’s deadline to pass all bills is August 31. Here are the bills by the senator that are in play:
The Climate Package
Net-Zero for the State of California: The centerpiece of Senator Becker’s 2022 climate action package Senate Bill 1203, requires state agencies to publish greenhouse gas emission inventories and create plans for achieving net zero emissions from their own operations. As more companies and cities set net zero targets, the California state government would lead by example and demonstrate how to achieve net zero in advance of the net zero target for the whole economy.
More Detailed Clean Energy Reporting: SB 1158 improves the way retail electricity suppliers report critical information. This would provide California with a more accurate picture of when our grid runs on clean energy, when it uses fossil fuels, and how much. The bill requires electricity suppliers to measure how they are doing compared to clean energy targets. The measurement would help California manage its progress toward clean energy goals.
Improved Transmission Planning: SB 887 helps accelerate the construction of transmission needed to deliver the enormous amount of new clean energy resources that will enable California to achieve the state’s goal for zero-carbon electricity by 2045.
Low-Cost Financing for Building Decarbonization: SB 1112 supports equitable financing for climate-beneficial building upgrades; its aim is to help more people afford home and building decarbonization. To do so, the legislation enables and encourages utilities to offer Tariff On-Bill (TOB) investment programs, also known as inclusive utility investment programs, by making a technical fix in existing law that could otherwise impede the roll-out of these programs. The bill also directs the California Energy Commission to explore how the state and its utilities can leverage federal financing and existing state programs to make low-cost financing available to TOB investment programs.
Senator Becker chairs the Senate Subcommittee on the Clean Energy Future and serves as vice chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Climate Change Policies. Three of his bills – SB 1203, SB 1158 and SB 887 – are part of the legislative package championed by Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins and the Climate Working Group she convened to push the needle on climate action.
The Keep Families Connected Act: SB 1008 makes phone calls and other telecom connections free for people incarcerated in California prisons or county jails. The bill eliminates the burdensome per minute and per correspondence fees for all communications to and from incarcerated people, enabling them to keep in better contact with their families and support systems. The companies that operate telecom services in prisons and jails have created a $1.4 billion industry in the US. Research compiled before the pandemic showed that telecom costs for keeping in touch with incarcerated loved ones drove more than 1 in 3 families into debt. The majority were families of color and households headed by women.
Mental Health Diversion: Researched and recommended by the Committee on the Revision of the Penal Code, SB 1223 facilitates greater use of the option for mental health diversion in appropriate cases, while preserving judicial discretion, so more Californians receive the mental health support and resources they need.
Grantmaking by the Office of the State Public Defender: SB 1117 permits the Office of the State Public Defender to issue grant awards, if allocated, to the most innovative public defender offices and programs across the state.
Economic Equity and Education
The Expanding Employee Ownership Act: SB 1407 creates a hub within the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, better known as GO-Biz, to focus on helping workers, business owners and other stakeholders learn about employee ownership and navigate resources to smooth the path for transition. Small businesses, the backbone of the economy, are being hit by the “Silver Tsunami” of owners who are at or near retirement age and are wrapping up their careers with no succession plan for their businesses. At the same time, fewer and fewer workers can save for emergencies, let alone their own retirement. Transitioning to an employee-owned operation can address both problems by enabling businesses to carry on with workers taking the reins, a change proven to build prosperity for all involved.
The San Mateo County Community College District Pilot Program: SB 893 would enable SMCCCD to expand aid to underrepresented and marginalized community members in San Mateo County without incurring more costs to the state. The bill allows the district to use their existing local revenues for fee waivers, which in turn would reduce the total cost of attendance for students eligible for the pilot program.
The Housing and Community Development Pooled Reserve: SB 948 cuts costs for affordable housing projects in California by shifting the responsibility to hold a “transition reserve” from the project level to a pooled reserve operated by the state’s Housing and Community Development Department. The switch would free up significant affordable housing resources that are currently locked away in project-specific reserves and would instead allow the money to be used to produce additional units of affordable housing, or deepen the affordability of units.
Surplus Drug Repository Pilot Program: SB 1346 would establish a regional pilot program in Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties to ensure that unopened medications are made available to patients in financial need to fulfill prescriptions the patients would be hard-pressed – if not unable – to afford. Nationwide, more than $5 billion worth of unused medications are thrown out by hospitals and long-term care facilities each year, even though the high cost of pharmaceuticals forces nearly 1 in 4 Americans to skip doses or forgo filling prescriptions. In California, millions of dollars worth of surplus meds go to waste annually.
Since 2005, California has allowed counties to set up a drug repository and distribution program within their health systems to repurpose donated surplus medications through a county-run pharmacy. But only Santa Clara County has established a such a program. SB 1346 authorizes a pilot program for a regional repository and pharmacy program, which would operate under updated and streamlined rules. The aim is to see whether this model could take a bigger bite out of the surplus meds waste stream – and encourage replication. SB 1346 is the only Becker bill to be approved by Assembly Appropriations a week ahead of its deadline to conclude fiscal reviews. The full Assembly then passed the bill on Thursday. SB 1346 will return to the Senate for concurrence on amendments.
Medical Patient Records: SB 1419 provides new protections to ensure patients receive sensitive information about their clinical laboratory tests and imaging scans in the manner that works best for them. The California Medical Association is sponsoring SB 1419.
Lawmakers’ deadline to pass bills for the 2021-22 legislative session is August 31.
Read more about all Senator Becker’s bills here.