2011 Legislation

AB 41 – High-Speed Rail Authority Contract Transparency
Adds the California High Speed Rail Authority to the Political Reform Act, closing a loophole that has allowed CHSRA members to receive thousands of dollars from special interests while voting on issues that impact those very interests. Potential conflicts involving special interests would have to be announced before CHSRA deliberations could begin and members would have to recuse themselves before a vote on items involving conflicts.

AB 45 – Underage Drinking on Party Buses
Closes a gap in current regulations that hold limousine operators, but not charter party buses, responsible for underage drinking in their vehicles. After hours of drinking on a chartered "booze cruise" bus to celebrate a friend's birthday, Brett Studebaker, a 19th Assembly District resident, died in 2010 when his car crashed into a sound wall on Highway 101 near San Mateo. AB 45, named in the memory of Brett, who was only 19 when he passed, would require operators of these increasingly popular buses to ascertain if they have passengers under 21. If any underage passenger drinks alcohol, the driver would be required to terminate the ride and return passengers to the pickup location. Bus drivers who break the law would be subject to fines, license revocation and misdemeanor criminal charges for further violations.

AB 50 – San Bruno Disaster Victim Tax Exemption
Exempts San Bruno disaster victims from paying state taxes on any financial compensation they received in the wake of the disaster.
SIGNED BY GOVERNOR – April 6, 2011

AB 56 – Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Reform
Holds utilities and regulators more accountable for inspections and repairs to California's aging pipeline infrastructure. Contains several reforms including:

  • Fines and Penalties: Puts into law that ratepayer money shall not be used by a utility to pay for any penalty or fee assessed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
  • Ratemaking Process: Requires the CPUC to consider the safety performance of public utilities in determining the rates that they will be allowed to charge customers.
  • Automatic or Remote shutoff valves: Requires the CPUC to establish minimum standards to install either automatic and/or remote shutoff valves where feasible.
  • Pipeline Repair: Requires utilities to annually prepare performance measure reports to the CPUC regarding any pipeline problems that were identified and any conditions requiring repair.
  • Emergency Responders: Requires utilities to share their emergency response plans and any information regarding the pipeline system with state and local emergency responders.
  • Pipeline Inspections: Require utilities, by January 1, 2022, to upgrade their facilities and pipelines to accommodate state of the art inspections, including inspection tools such as "PIGS."
  • Rate Verification: Requires the CPUC to track proposed repairs used by a gas corporation in a rate making proposal, and if the money is diverted to a different project, requires the utility to make a public filing justifying the change. Prohibits a gas corporation from seeking a rate increase to cover its uninsured costs from a fire or other catastrophic event that resulted from negligence by the utility.
  • Seismic Safety: Requires utilities to prioritize the safety and oversight of pipelines that are next to high risk seismic areas.

AB 75 – Fraudulent Government Solicitations
Protects consumers by increasing disclosures on solicitations from companies that masquerade as official government entities. The misleading solicitations sent to companies often appear to be official government documents and imply that the company must pay an exorbitant fee in order to file the documents with the Secretary of State. Such letters must include a disclaimer atop the first page stating: "This product or service has not been approved or endorsed by any government agency." Violations would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

AB 89 – Pension Reform
Closes a loophole which allows government entities in California to pay public employee pensions beyond the federal limit. Federal law caps a pension at $195,000 per year but government entities are getting around this limit and attempting to provide employees with pensions of $300,000 and higher. The average CalPERS pension is only $24,000 a year.

AB 278 – Department of Real Estate Regulatory Reform
Currently, the Department of Real Estate does not have the authority to access fines when realtors are not compliant with the law. This bill would change that.

AB 293 – Vote by Mail (VBM) Voter Verification
Requires the Secretary of State in coordination with county elections officials, to establish procedures to permit a vote-by-mail voter to determine (by accessing the SOS's Internet Web site) whether his or her ballot had been counted and if not, the reason why it was not. Each election cycle, thousands of Californians cast their vote by mail only to have it unknowingly thrown-out by local elections officials for reasons such as a change in signature even though a voter's signature may have changed due to illness or old age. Voters could easily remedy this situation, but under current law, they have no way of knowing if their ballot was not counted. This bill will give VBM voters the same rights afforded to provisional voters to find out whether their ballot was counted and allow them to take corrective action to ensure that their ballots will count in future elections.

AB 320 – California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Regulatory Reform
Revises CEQA's judicial review procedures to clarify that recipients of a project approval identified by the lead agency are the real parties in interest that must be named by the plaintiff in an appeal of the lead agency's decision.

AB 356 – Parameters on Local Hire Ordinances
Clarifies that no local agency, including a charter city, can enforce a local hiring policy on projects outside of its geographical boundaries and requires local entities to pick up the tab for any cost increase associated with local hire ordinances if project costs are increased as a result of the ordinance. Taxpayers from around the state should not be on the hook for increased costs associated with local hire projects in a given city/county. It is estimated that San Francisco's local hire ordinance will cost $9 million annually.

AB 459 – National Popular Vote
Reforms the Electoral College so that it reflects the nationwide choice of the people and guarantees the presidency to the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide. All of the state's electoral votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). The bill has passed 30 legislative chambers in 20 states and is supported by more than 70% of people nationwide.

AB 861 – California Stroke Registry
This bill establishes a statewide stroke registry which will compile information and statistics on stroke care. The database will be managed by the California Department of Public Health and will serve to improve the quality of care and outcomes of stroke victims. This bill will only be enacted if there is federal or private funding available.

AB 1055 – CPUC Foundation Conflict of Interest
Under current law, Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, and passenger transportation companies. This bill would prohibit a PUC commissioner or employee from knowingly soliciting any type of contributions from any person or entity subject to PUC regulation. This bill would also prohibit a PUC commissioner or employee from serving as an officer or board member on any organization which solicits contributions from a person or entity regulated by the PUC.

AB 1277 – Reducing Redundant Regulations at the California Food & Drug Branch
AB 1277 reduces redundant inspections between the state and federal Food and Drug departments by creating a clear timeline of when inspections can occur. The bill changes the state inspection from once every two years to once every four years to better compliment the federal inspection schedule. AB 1277 continues to allow the state Food and Drug Branch to perform follow-up state inspections after federal inspections in instances where the public's health and safety may be at risk.

AB 1280 – Methamphetamine Production Combat Program
Cracks down on methamphetamine production in California by requiring retailers to use electronic tracking on sales of pseudoephedrine. This will stop excessive sales in real time across all stores in the online network as opposed to the current system of hand-written purchase records which allows criminals to purchase amounts of pseudoephedrine above the federal limit from multiple stores.

AB 1301 – Reducing Sales of Tobacco to Minors
Cracks down on stores that repeatedly sell tobacco products to minors by allowing the state to take action against a store's license instead of just monetary penalties. Under current law a retailer has to get caught selling to minors eight times within a two-year period before their license can be revoked.

AB 1349 – Court Determination of Parental Rights
This bill would allow a court to consider the relationship between the child and his or her presumed and declared parents when determining a child's parentage.