2012 Legislation

AB 1452 - Child Safety Seats
Requires hospitals, clinics, and birthing centers, when discharging a child, to inform the parent where they can have a child passenger restraint system inspected and receive instruction on its proper installation at no cost.

AB 1456 - Utility Safety and Rate of Return
Requires the California Public Utilities Commission to consider a gas utility's safety performance when determining the utility's allowed profit.

AB 1639 - Pension Reform
Closes a loophole which allows government entities in California to pay public employee pensions beyond the federal limit. AB 1639 caps the amount of compensation used for pension calculations bringing state and local pensions in line with the IRS limits to prevent highly paid employees from receiving pensions totaling several hundred thousand dollars each year.

AB 1703 - Disclosure of Utility Civil Settlements
Ensures that the California Public Utilities Commission is informed about judgments, settlements, and arbitration awards that involve safety allegations that could put the public at risk by requiring public utilities to file completed reports within 30 days after any final judgment, arbitration award, or settlement in excess of $50,000 in any civil action brought by an employee or former employee of the utility. This bill will keep the Commission informed regarding any allegations of wrongdoing by the utilities it regulates.

AB 1843 - Whistleblower Protections for Gas Pipeline Utility Workers
Requires the California Public Utilities Commission to create a comprehensive whistleblower protection program to protect utility employees, former employees, contractors, and subcontractors that step forward with information that protects public safety and public interest.

AB 1921 - Federal Health Care Reform - Affordable Care Act
Helps implement the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) by establishing the Transitional Reinsurance Program for California. Under the ACA, each state operating a health benefit exchange is required to establish a Transitional Reinsurance Program for the period 2014-2016 to help stabilize premiums for coverage in the Individual market during the first three years of the program.

AB 2019 - Foster Family Home Fund
California offers liability protection to licensed foster homes through the Foster Family Home Fund (Fund). An audit conducted last year by the state auditor highlighted efficiencies that could improve how the Fund is run. For example, Social Services failed to obtain key information from General Services, and as a result, Social Services has been unable to accurately project the insurance fund's budget needs. This bill would put into statue the recommendations that were outlined in the audit - establish a written policy and procedures for determining the fund's financial needs, and set an adequate reserve amount for the insurance fund. The bill would also amend state law to have the department automatically approve claims that have not been dealt with in a 180 day period.

AB 2097 - Assistance for Special Education Students
Current law requires schools to keep assistive equipment utilized by special needs children and re-use it for other children. Examples of equipment include wheelchairs and hearing aids. This bill would allow children to keep the equipment free of charge since often times the equipment is specialized for each individual as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act eligibility. This technology is a tool for access, independence, and academic success, and is a vital tool for the child it was designed for and should remain with that individual.

AB 2165 - Increasing the Net Metering Cap for Fuel Cells
Increases the net metering cap for fuel cells from the current statewide limit of 112.5 MW to 1% of aggregate customer peak demand—about 5 times as much. Fuel cells are a clean, low carbon technology and are an important part of California's diverse renewable energy portfolio. The bill allows fuel cell electricity generators to continue their expansion in the state by allowing their clean electricity to be sold back to the grid.

AB 2234 - Increased utilization of Solar on Public Buildings
Allows schools and other public facilities including colleges, local governments, special districts and the state, to install larger solar energy systems to lower taxpayer utility costs. The estimated savings could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars during the next three decades. Under current law, the state limits the size of solar system installations on publicly-owned facilities that are eligible for net energy metering to one megawatt. As a result, large public sector buildings can only receive the energy bill savings associated with net metering for a small portion of their electricity usage. This bill would increase the net metering system size limit to 5 megawatts for publicly-owned facilities and apply to new and existing installations.

AB 2570 - Eliminating Regulatory Gag Clauses
Allows the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to better investigate professional misconduct. Specifically, it prohibits any licensee or professional overseen by DCA from including a "gag clause" in a civil settlement agreement that prohibits an individual from communicating with DCA.

Two-year bills from the 2011 legislative session currently working their way through the Senate include:

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 law to hold charter party buses accountable 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 and to take appropriate steps to ensure their safety. The bill would also increase penalties on bus drivers who fail to comply with the safety reforms.

AB 578 – Gas Pipeline Safety - NTSB Recommendations
Requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to adopt gas pipeline safety recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board if those recommendations are appropriate to California utilities.  The CPUC may decide not to do so, but it must submit those reasons in writing as a part of the Commission’s record of proceedings. The NTSB is the nation’s preeminent advisory body on transportation and pipeline safety matters.  This bill will ensure that the NTSB’s safety recommendations are adopted since they have no power to enforce their recommendations.

AB 838 – CPUC Safety Position
As safety is the first priority of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the agency needs an executive-level administrator for whom safety is the focus.  This bill creates an assistant executive director for public safety who will bridge the silos between divisions so that staff throughout the organization can integrate safety considerations into the everyday business of the Commission.  This individual would also span the current chasm between PHMSA and the CPUC to ensure that state and federal efforts build on each other and are not duplicative.

AB 861 - California Stroke Registry
Establishes a statewide stroke registry to 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 in California. This bill will only be enacted if there is federal or private funding available.

AB 1277 - Reducing Duplicative Inspections Between State and Federal Government
Streamlines duplicative inspections performed on biotechnology companies by the federal Food and Drug Administration and the state Food and Drug Branch. Clarifies that the federal FDA shall be responsible for initial and biennial inspections and the state FDB shall be responsible for taking action against companies in instances where the public's health and safety may be at risk. The state FDB would continue to conduct enforcement activities including injunctions, embargoes & seizures, and "for cause" inspections.

AB 1278 – Prohibiting Smoking at Hospitals
Smoke free hospital campuses encourage patients, visitors and employees to quit smoking while simultaneously providing protections from involuntary exposure to the unhealthy effects of second hand smoke. This bill would prohibit, beginning March 2013,  smoking in all areas of a general acute care hospital and throughout the entire hospital campus, including, but not limited to, buildings, parking areas, plazas, vehicles, underground passages, and sidewalks.

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. The current system of hand-written purchase records 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 suspend and revoke a store's license in addition to imposing a series of escalating monetary penalties based on violations.