Legislative Accomplishments By Year
2019 Bills Signed
Senate Bill 39 – Tobacco Product Packaging in Online Sales. SB 39 imposes stricter age verification requirements for all tobacco products sold online and by mail. The legislation requires tobacco companies to deliver tobacco products in conspicuously marked containers and obtain the signature of the person, 21 or older, who is to receive the delivery before the parcel is handed over.
SB 222 – Preventing Housing Discrimination Against Veterans and Military Personnel. SB 222 protects veterans and military personnel from housing discrimination and ensures that landlords cannot deny homeless veterans housing simply because they receive a rental assistance voucher. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, veterans and military personnel are a protected class regarding employment discrimination, but they are not protected from housing discrimination. SB 222 adds them as a protected class under the state Fair Employment and Housing Act and under other statutes regarding housing discrimination. In addition, the legislation specifies that the rental assistance vouchers provided by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program are income. In doing so, SB 222 prohibits discrimination against people who use the vouchers to pay for some or all of their rent.
SB 223 – Jojo's Act. SB 223 enables parents to administer their child’s dose on K-12 campuses under strict rules and conditions as long as their school district allows it. Named for a South San Francisco teenager, Jojo’s Act permits K-12 school district boards, county boards of education and governing bodies of charter schools to decide whether to allow a student’s parent or guardian to administer medicinal cannabis to the child, provided the parents, guardian and child meet and follow all the conditions set by the bill.
SB 304 – Prosecution of Serial Fraud Against the Elderly. SB 304 enables district attorneys to consolidate prosecution against suspects charged in cases of financial fraud against elderly and dependent adults occurring in more than one county. The legislation eases the burden for the fraud victims who otherwise would have to testify against a suspected perpetrator or perpetrators multiple times and in multiple locations as prosecutors try each case.
SB 326 – Balcony Inspection for HOAs. SB 326 requires that balconies, outside stairs, walkways and other load-bearing, elevated exterior elements that are part of existing, multi-family residential common interest developments, better known as HOAs, be inspected at least every nine years. This bill builds on Senator Hill’s earlier legislation that responded to the Berkeley balcony tragedy of 2015 by establishing new laws to increase oversight of contractors and require periodic inspections of balconies and other elevated exterior elements at multi-family residential apartment buildings.
SB 425 – Reporting Alleged Sexual Misconduct by Medical Professionals. SB 425 requires hospitals, clinics and other health facilities to report allegations of patient sexual abuse and other sexual misconduct by medical professionals to the appropriate state licensing authorities within 15 days of receiving a written complaint from the patient. The bill closes legal loopholes that allowed subjects of repeated sexual abuse and misconduct complaints to work at health facilities for years – without licensing boards being aware of the problem – because there was no requirement for the facilities to report the allegations to the relevant regulatory agency. The legislation builds on Senator Hill's SB 1448: The Patient's Right to Know Act of 2018.
SB 537 – Workers Compensation Reform. SB 537 increases transparency and equity in the workers’ compensation system by requiring, effective July 1, 2021, the public posting of medical provider information, as the federal government does with Medicare. The bill also prohibits entities from changing a medical provider’s treatment plan and billing codes without consulting the provider. The legislation is the product of several reform efforts by a variety of stakeholders. It aims to reduce medical disputes and improve the operation of medical provider networks. Doing both is critical to ensure that injured workers receive appropriate medical care without impediments or delay. For the effective dates of the various provisions of the legislation, see the bill text linked here.
SB 550 – Safety in Utility Restructuring. SB 550 ensures that safety is integral to any merger, acquisition or change of control involving major electric or gas companies; and in sales of public utility assets, the impacts to ratepayers and the workforce must be considered as well. For municipalities seeking to purchase some of the assets of a public utility, SB 550 eases the process by modifying the CPUC review required for the transaction.
SB 699 – San Francisco Bay Area Regional Water System. SB 699 extends state oversight of San Francisco’s required capital improvement program for the Bay Area regional water system from the current sunset dates of January 1, 2022, to January 1, 2026. SB 699 also extends the ability of the regional water system’s Financing Authority to issue revenue bonds through December 31, 2030.
SB 778 – Sexual Harassment Prevention training Requirement for Employers. This bill by the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee clarifies the deadline for compliance with the anti-harassment training requirement that was laid out in 2018 by SB 1343 (Mitchell). SB 778 also allows employers who were already compliant with the law in 2019 to provide refresher training on a schedule that is consistent with the bill’s two-year timetable. As chair of the Senate Labor Committee, Senator Hill guided this bill through the legislative review process.
SB 782 – Government Code Clarifications, CalPERS. This bill by the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee makes non-controversial administrative amendments to the government code for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. SB 782 clarifies existing law, reorganizes code sections for clarity corrects outdated references and makes grammatical and gender-neutral corrections to the code. Senator Hill guided this bill through the legislative review process as chair of the Senate Labor Committee.
Senator Hill also authored two Senate Resolutions. Such measures do not require the governor’s signature and took effect after the Senate passed them:
Senate Resolution 21 recognizes the Know Before You Fly campaign launched by the Academy of Model Aeronautics and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014. It provides drone users information and guidance for them to fly the devices safely.
SR 60 declared September 2019 Sepsis Awareness month in California to boost recognition causes, symptoms and treatment of the serious and potentially fatal medical condition. Studies show that the condition causes at least 270,000 deaths a year in the U.S., primarily among the very young and the elderly, yet only 12 percent of adults in the country know about the symptoms of sepsis.
2018 Bills Signed
SB 273 – Underage Marriage. SB 273 increased safeguards to protect young people from being forced into marriage or domestic partnerships, especially those that result from or perpetuate abuse. Starting January 1, 2019, the measure expanded review requirements by Family Court Services and judges when individuals younger than 18 seek a court order to marry or enter into a domestic partnership in California. Provisions that take effect March 1, 2020, require local registrars and the state to compile statistics on marriages and domestic partnerships involving minors.
SB 721 and SB 1465 – Oversight of Contractors and Apartment Balconies. Companion bills SB 721 and SB 1465 improved oversight of construction contractors and the balconies they build at apartments in response to the collapse of a fifth-story balcony at a Berkeley apartment building in 2015. Six young people died and seven of their friends were severely injured when the balcony, poorly sealed and weakened by dry rot, gave way. All but one of the people killed and hospitalized were visiting students and recent graduates from Ireland, which mourned the disaster as a national tragedy. SB 721 requires the periodic inspection of balconies, decks, outdoor stairs and other load-bearing elevated exterior elements that are designed for people to walk or stand on at apartment buildings and complexes. Under SB 721, 15 percent of the load-bearing, elevated exterior elements of apartment buildings with three or more units must be inspected every six years. The Contractors State License Board helped craft SB 1465. It requires contractors who settle construction defect lawsuits that involve load-bearing portions of multifamily rental residential structures for a million dollars or more to report those deals to the CSLB. The reports would be confidential unless the board pursues disciplinary measures. Both bills stem from Senator Hill’s SB 465, passed in 2016.
SB 823 – Evidence-Based Standards for Alcohol and Drug Rehab Facilities. SB 823 increased oversight of a burgeoning addiction recovery industry with widely divergent methods of treatment that had no requirement uniform, evidence-based standards of care. SB 823 requires the state Department of Health Care Services to adopt the treatment criteria of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, or an equivalent evidence-based standard, as the threshold for care by licensed recovery or treatment facilities addressing adult alcoholism or drug abuse. The bill also requires licensees to maintain the standards appropriate to their level of care. Under SB 823, the department must adopt regulations by January 1, 2023. In the meantime, the law that took effect January 1, 2019, allowed the department to “implement, interpret, or make specific” the aims of SB 823 by means of plan or provider bulletins or similar instructions until regulations are adopted.
SB 1028 – Extending Utilities’ Corporate Tax Savings to Ratepayers. SB 1028 was introduced to ensure that the savings enjoyed by privately owned utilities from the then-recent federal tax break for corporations were passed along to ratepayers. The bill provided clear direction to the California Public Utilities Commission that any changes to utilities’ taxes be adjusted for in rates so that if utilities receive tax savings, customer rates will be lowered.
SB 1106 – Age-Appropriate Settings for Young Adult Offenders. SB 1106 extended a pilot program that allows low-level, nonviolent young adult felons, who are 18 or older but under 21 and do not have a history of crime, to serve their time at juvenile halls, rather than at county jails with adults. The deferred judgment pilot program aims to improve outcomes for young adults by giving them access to services and environments that are age-appropriate. SB 1106 extended the sunset date for the pilot program from January 1, 2020, to January 1, 2022. The bill also enabled a sixth county, Ventura, to join Alameda, Butte, Napa, Nevada and Santa Clara counties as pilot program participants. The bill builds on Senator Hill’s SB 1004 of 2016, which authorized the pilot program.
SB 1115 – Aiding Nonprofits Providing Affordable Housing. SB 1115 helped nonprofits and religious organizations that privately fund and provide affordable housing by raising the cap on property tax exemptions from $10 million during a fiscal year to $20 million. Nonprofits that provide affordable housing to low income individuals and families, but do not receive tax subsidies or grants from the state or federal government, have a cap placed on the amount of property tax that may be exempted annually. Only 75 properties in California owned by 26 nonprofits are subject to the cap. Raising it helped nonprofits providing affordable housing and services in a state that is home to some of the country’s tightest and most expensive housing markets.
SB 1205 – Fire Inspection Accountability. SB 1205 requires fire departments to report annually to their local governing authority about compliance with state mandates for safety inspections of schools, apartments, hotels, motels and lodging houses. The bill directs the report to be made when the local governing authority discusses its annual budget, though the local body can chose to do so at another time during the year. The legislation responded to a Bay Area News Group investigative report that revealed several fire departments are years behind in their safety investigations of schools and apartments.
SB 1355 – Prohibiting Drones Over State Prisons.SB 1355 prohibits individuals from operating drones at or over a state prison, a jail or a juvenile hall, camp or ranch. The restrictions do not apply to employees of the facilities who operate such devices as part of their job, or to individuals who have permission from the appropriate authorities of the facilities to fly a drone over the grounds. Violating SB 1355 would be an infraction punishable by a $500 fine.
SB 1376 – The TNC Access for All Act. SB 1376 mandates the California Public Utilities Commission to develop regulations for transportation network companies on accessibility for people with disabilities. The bill requires the CPUC to engage in workshops with stakeholders, levy a fee on TNCs to help pay for wheelchair-accessible vehicles and create a program for groups to spend that fee to advance deployment of such vehicles.
SB 1397 – New Requirements for AEDs in Renovated Buildings. Starting January 1, 2020, SB 1397 will require that an automated external defibrillator, the emergency device better known as an AED must be installed in certain high-occupancy structures that undergo modifications, renovations or tenant improvements amounting to $100,000 or more in a single calendar year.
SB 1406 – Extending Baccalaureate Degree Pilot Program at Community Colleges. SB 1406 extended a pilot project that allowed 15 community colleges to offer a four-year baccalaureate degree program. The changes allowed the colleges to enroll students for the pilot for a few more years so that the final cohort of participants begins their four-year degree program no later than the 2022-23 academic year and completes it by June 30, 2026. The bill followed SB 850, 2014 legislation introduced by then-Senator Marty Block with Senator Hill as coauthor. SB 850 authorized the pilot program and set the original cutoff date for enrollment so that participants would complete their four-year degree program by the 2022-23 academic year.
SB 1448 – The Patient’s Right to Know Act of 2018. SB 1448 made California the first state to require physicians who are disciplined and placed by their regulatory board for the following four categories of misconduct to notify their patients prior to their visit: Sexual misconduct with a patient, drug abuse that can harm patients, criminal conviction involving harm to patients, and inappropriate prescribing resulting in patient harm and five or more years of probation. In addition to physicians, SB 1448 applies to surgeons, osteopaths, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, podiatrists and acupuncturists who are placed on administrative probation by regulators on or after July 1, 2019.
SB 1474 – Impounding Unlicensed Limos and Chartered Buses. SB 1474 enables the California Public Utilities Commission to better pursue enforcement actions against unlicensed transportation carriers. The bill allows the CPUC to contract with the CHP or sheriff’s departments to assist in impounding vehicles, such as limos and chartered buses that are under the CPUC’s jurisdiction.
As chair of the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Professional Development in 2018, Senator Hill introduced legislation on the operations by regulatory boards for professions and vocations. They included four sunset bills, which were signed into law by Governor Brown: SB 1480, which applied to a range of boards, SB 1481 on the Structural Pest Control Board, SB 1482 pertaining to the Dental Hygiene Board and its licensees, and SB 1483, which applied to the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation.
Committee bills SB 1491, regarding healing arts, and SB 1492, pertaining to licensing agencies overseen by the Department of Consumer Affairs, also were passed by the Legislature and signed into law. Senator Hill shepherded the two bills through the legislative review process.
Senate Concurrent Resolution
Also in 2018 the Senate and the Assembly adopted Senator Hill’s SCR 120 to proclaim April California Safe Digging Month.
The Senate also passed SR 86 to establish March 28 Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Day in California to increase awareness of the disabling disease and to support individuals living with progressive forms of MS.
2017 Bills Signed
Senate Bill 19 – California Public Utilities Commission Duties and Responsibilities. SB 19 enacted reforms to bring more oversight to the CPUC and enable the agency to better focus on its mission as the state’s utilities regulator.
SB 20 – Bus Seat Belt Safety. SB 20 Requires passengers and the driver in commercial buses to buckle up if vehicles are equipped with seat belts. Failure to do so is an infraction, punishable by a fine of up to $20 on the first offense and a fine of as much as $50 for subsequent offenses.
SB 65 – Prohibiting Marijuana Consumption in Cars. SB 65 prohibits smoking or consuming marijuana in any form while driving or riding in vehicles by adding marijuana consumption to the law prohibiting alcohol consumption while driving or riding in cars.
SB 145 – Autonomous Vehicles. SB 145 eliminated a 180-day waiting period for companies that file an application to deploy driverless vehicles. The bill also lifted a requirement that the DMV notify the Legislature each time such an application is submitted.
SB 547 – Professions and vocations: Weights and Measures. SB 547 made various changes to board and bureaus under the jurisdiction of the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs. Senator Hill introduced the omnibus bill in his role as chairman of the Senate Committee on Business Professions and Economic Development.
SB 611 – Disability Placards and Plates. SB 611 helped the DMV prevent abuse and tighten oversight of the parking placard and license plate program for motorists with disabilities so that the benefits are preserved for motorists who need these resources.
SB 711 – Rates and Charges by Electric and Gas Corporations. SB 711 was introduced to address the wild fluctuations in energy bills experienced by many utility customers during winter 2016-2017. It required the CPUC to minimize the fluctuations and required utilities to help consumers better understand how their bills are calculated, what their next bills might be and steps that can be taken to reduce it.
SB-751 – Reserve Cap Rules. SB 751 exempted basic aid and small districts with average daily attendance of 2,500 or less from reserve cap rules. The bill modified the trigger that would have required districts to spend down their reserves to the minimum allowed. The bill raised the cap percentage to 10 percent; it had been 6 percent.
SB 751 also clarified that the cap applies only to General Fund revenue, not other accounts such as construction, cafeteria, charter school or other funds.
SB 793 – Design Build & Value Build. SB 793 permitted San Mateo County to take advantage of a process that allows public entities to use a method ensuring best value criteria are used in securing construction project contracts. Doing so enabled the county to expedite its five-year, $500-million capital improvement plan. SB 793 also allowed three special districts – the Peninsula Health Care District, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District – to use the design-build method to carry out public construction, repair and restoration projects. Contracting with the same firm to design and build such projects is typical among state and local government entities and schools. But the process, which saves money and time, was not as prevalent among special districts, as many had yet to be granted authority to contract with a single firm to design construction projects and then execute those plans.
SB 797 – Caltrain Funding. SB 797 authorized the counties of San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara to place a 1/8-cent sales tax measure on the ballot to fund Caltrain operations and capital improvements, enabling local voters to decide how they want to improve traffic problems in their community. Before the measure could be put on the ballot, it would have to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Caltrain board; a two-thirds vote from each of the Boards of Supervisors for San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties; and a majority vote of each of the following transit districts: the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Mateo County Transit District, and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. To succeed as a ballot measure, it would need two-thirds vote of all three counties combined.
Senate Joint Resolution 3 – National Popular Vote. SJR 3 called upon other states to pass National Popular Vote legislation, as the California Legislature did in 2011, to ensure that electoral votes for the president of the United States reflect the will of American voters. Such legislation commits a state to abide by an interstate compact to award the electoral votes of that state to the presidential slate winning the most votes nationwide.
In contrast, in most states, all of a state’s electoral votes are awarded to the presidential slate that wins in that state. The state-by-state, winner-take-all practice now prevailing in the Electoral College makes it possible for a candidate to lose the national popular vote, yet win enough electoral votes to become president – as happened in the presidential elections of 2016, 2000, 1888 and 1876. The National Popular Vote interstate compact would prevail when states possessing a majority of the total possible electoral votes, currently 270 of 538, have adopted such legislation and ratified the compact.
Senator Hill also introduced five committee bills as chair of the Senate Business, Professions an Economic Development Committee in 2017 that were passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor. SB 547 made various changes to board and bureaus under the jurisdiction of the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs. Three sunset bills extended the operations of state licensing agencies for healing arts professions: SB 796 pertained to the Naturopathic Medicine Committee within the Osteopathic Medical Board of California and the Respiratory Care Board of California; SB 798 pertained to the Medical Board of California, which licenses physicians and surgeons; and SB 799 addressed the Board of Registered Nursing within the Department of Consumer Affairs. The fourth, SB 800, was an omnibus bill on professions and vocations..
Passed by the Senate, Senator Hill’s SR 24 recognized March 19 through March 25, 2017, as National Surveyors Week in California.
2016 Bills Signed
Senate Bill 24 – JPA Pension Fix for San Mateo County. SB 24 resolved 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 allowed 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. SB 62 established 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. SB 438 complemented 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 brought California closer to statewide implementation of the earthquake early warning system.
SB 465 – Building Construction Contractors: Discipline, Reporting and Building Standards. SB 465 laid the foundation for 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. The tragedy killed six young adults and severely injured seven of their friends.
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.
- Authorized 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.
- Required 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.
- Directed 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.
- Directed 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 were required to 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 CPUC 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. The legislation 1) required 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) required the CPUC to reach out to those affected by its proceedings; 3) required CPUC judges to adhere to ethics provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act; 4) allowed the public to receive hearing transcripts at no charge; 5) permitted the CPUC to meet in locations other than San Francisco; 6) required the CPUC to modify its annual report to clarify how long the CPUC takes to finish rate or penalty cases; and 7) allowed 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 addressed 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. SB 812 Improved 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 pulled the plug on excessive water use by households that flout mandatory reductions during drought emergencies. The law required 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 law also ensured that every urban retail water supplier has a tool to curb excessive water use by customers.
SB 869 – Safe Storage of Police Handguns in Vehicles. Another winner of Senator Hill’s 2016 “Oughta Be a Law…” contest, SB 869 responded 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 closed 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. SB 996 aided 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 applied 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 provide housing, food and clothing services to low-income families. SB 996 provided 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 authorized 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 required utilities regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission to file wildfire mitigation plans, required the CPUC to review those plans, and required publicly-owned utilities to also file wildfire mitigation plans with their governing boards.
SB 1046 – Ignition Interlock Devices for Drunk Driving Offenders. SB 1046 extended 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 created 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.
Senator Hill also introduced the following committee bills as chair of the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee:
SB 1039 – Business and Professions Omnibus Bill. SB 1039 made several changes to the statutes governing various boards and bureaus under the Department of Consumer Affairs. The bill included 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 also specified 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 required the nursing board to audit continuing education providers at least once every five years to ensure adherence to regulatory requirements. The new law also required the board to withhold or rescind approval from any provider that is in violation of the regulatory requirements.
SB 1192 – Private Post-Secondary Education. SB 1192 changed 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 strengthened the Pharmacy Law, Veterinary Practice Act and Psychology Licensing Law to 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 ensured that the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services is subject to review by the appropriate policy committees of the Legislature. The legislation changed 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 added 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 also included 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 were 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 imposed stricter training standards and requirements to ensure that shootings and incidents of suspected excessive force are investigated. In addition, the new law enabled gun permits to be revoked when warranted and improves oversight of companies.
In addition, SB 1478 and SB 1479 were passed by the Legislature and signed into law to address matters involving the licensing boards for the healing art and those for a range of other professions. Senator Hill shepherded the bills through the legislative process as chair of the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee.
Senate Concurrent Resolution
SCR 120, introduced by Senator Hill and passed by both houses, established April 7 as Biotechnology Day in California.
2015 Bills Signed
SB 21 – Transparency for Elected Official Travel. SB 21 increased transparency within the Political Reform Act by requiring nonprofits that pay for elected official travel to disclose to the FPPC the names of the donors responsible for funding the travel. Prior law allowed nonprofits that fund conferences to hide the donors that provide funding. The public has a right to know who is paying for conferences attended by elected officials which typically occur at destinations around the world. SB 21 also required elected officials to disclose to the FPPC the destination of their travel if it was a gift.
SB 27 – Antibiotics in Livestock. SB 27 made California the first state in the nation to establish a comprehensive regulatory framework for the use of antibiotics in farm animals. Unnecessary use of antibiotics has been linked to the development of antibiotic resistant infections, which affect at least 2 million Americans each year and cause at least 23,000 deaths.
Under SB 27, effective January 1, 2018:
• A prescription became required for all medically important antibiotics used in livestock.
• The use of medically important antibiotics to fatten up livestock became prohibited.
• Parameters were set for the use of medically important antibiotics for disease prevention.
Other provisions in the bill went into effect on January 1, 2016 to require:
• The Department of Food and Agriculture to develop an antibiotic stewardship program to promote better use of antibiotics and to promote alternatives to reduce the need to use antibiotics in the first place.
• The Department of Food and Agriculture to begin a program to monitor the use of medically important antibiotics and antibiotic resistance in livestock.
• Penalties be imposed on producers and veterinarians for noncompliance with the legislation, including fines, educational classes on antibiotic use, and actions against a veterinarian's license.
SB 61 – Ignition Interlock Devices for DUIs. SB 61 extended a pilot program that required all DUI offenders in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties to install Ignition Interlock Devices on their vehicles to protect the public from drunk drivers. The bill extended pilot program’s sunset date so that instead of ending in December 2015, it could run until July 2017 to enable the Legislature to review a DMV report on the program. Without SB 61 and without the report in hand, Legislature could have missed an opportunity to evaluate the information and determine whether to continue, expand or end the program, before the pilot concluded.
SB 361 – Reducing Antibiotic Resistance in Nursing Homes. SB 361 helped reduce the development of antibiotic resistant infections by requiring all nursing homes to implement antibiotic stewardship programs and by requiring veterinarians to take continuing education in the judicious use of antibiotics. This was important because at the time, up to 70 percent of nursing home residents nationwide were being dosed with an antibiotic every year and 27,000 acquired an antibiotic resistant infection. Also as veterinarians continued to gain more authority in the administration of these lifesaving drugs, it became essential for veterinarians to keep up to date on the most relevant research to use antibiotics as effectively as possible.
SB 494 – Facilitating California’s Earthquake Early Warning System. SB 494 helped facilitate the implementation of California’s earthquake early warning system by establishing the California Earthquake Safety Fund. SB 494 built on existing policy to ensure California is prepared for the next Big One.
SB 541 – Improving the Safety Enforcement for Limousines and Buses. SB 541 was aimed improving the CPUC’s transportation branch, which had failed to provide adequate customer service and safety enforcement. The bill established new program priorities, such as timely processing of applications and consumer complaints. It also addressed public safety issues by authorizing law enforcement officers to cite drivers of limousines, buses, or moving vans that are pulled over and found to be operating without a valid CPUC permit. The bill further allowed law enforcement operators to impound limousines and buses operating without a permit or being driven by an unlicensed driver.
SB 598 – Sales Tax Exemption for All-Volunteer Fire Departments in California. A winner of Senator Hill’s 2015 “Oughta Be A Law” Constituent Contest. SB 598 helped all-volunteer fire departments better utilize scarce resources by exempting them from sales tax liability on fundraising activities (including pancake breakfasts and T-shirt sales). SB 598 ensured that the entire gross amount of a fundraiser stays with an all-volunteer fire department so that the money raised can help provide critically needed equipment and services.
SB 633 – Modernizing California’s Made in USA Labeling Law. SB 633 updated California’s “Made in the USA” labeling standard to reflect the real-world market in which companies make products using components from around the world. Until SB 633 was signed into law, California was the only state that used an impractical 100 percent domestic content requirement for manufactured goods. SB 633 provided California and domestic manufacturers a much-needed tool to entice consumers to buy their products.
SB 658 – More Access to AEDs. SB 658 increased public and private access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs) by streamlining state requirements that commercial building owners and public facilities need to follow to be immune from liability if they have AEDs on their property. Under prior law, facilities like schools, office buildings, stadiums and shopping malls that have AEDs were only immune from liability if they met onerous conditions, including costly training and medical oversight requirements. SB 658 modernizes liability requirements with more basic safeguards such as battery checks, AED maintenance, AED location notification for building tenants, posting of instructions next to the device, and an annual demonstration for building tenants.
SB 671 – Lower Cost Biosimilar Drug Substitution. SB 671 allowed patients to save money on life-saving drugs by permitting the automatic substitution of lower cost biosimilar drugs for brand name biologics. Biologic medicines are the next generation of life-saving medicines used to treat blood conditions, cancers, immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s Disease and neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis. The bill also ensured that doctors will have access to complete medical records for their patients who are taking this new generation of medications.
SB 705 – San Mateo County Transportation Funding. SB 705 authorized the counties of San Mateo and Monterey to seek approval from their voters, on a two-thirds threshold, to increase their local sales tax for purposes of funding local transportation projects. Earlier law established a 2 percent tax cap for all counties in the state, but counties like San Mateo, Monterey and Los Angeles were at or approaching the limit. The bill provides a .5 percent exemption for San Mateo and a .375 percent exemption for the Transportation Agency for Monterey, affording each county the flexibility to place items before voters to fund local transportation programs. Under SB 705, the voters in San Mateo County and Monterey County can decide if they want to further fund transportation projects in their counties.
As chair of the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee, Senator Hill introduced the following bills, which the Legislature passed and the governor signed into law:
- SB 396, pertaining to licensing and enforcement issues involving outpatient surgical settings and facilities.
- SB 466, which extended the sunset date for the Board of Registered Nursing to January 1, 2018, and set parameters for the board’s continued operations.
- SB 467, which extended the sunset dates for the Board of Accountancy and the Contractors State License Board to January 1, 2020.
- SB 469, which extended the sunset date for the state Athletic Commission until January 1, 2020, and set parameters for the commission’s continued operation.
In addition Senator Hill guided SB 800, a committee bill addressing operations of various healing arts licensing boards, through the legislative process.
Senate Concurrent Resolutions
Pioneering science and engineering educator Frederick E. Terman, considered by many to be a leading progenitor of Silicon Valley, was honored by the Legislature’s passage of SCR 30. Authored by Senator Hill, the resolution names a stretch of Highway 101, running from the heart of Silicon Valley to the San Mateo County line, after Terman.
SCR 81, also authored by Senator Hill and passed by the Legislature, proclaimed September 2015 as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
SR 40, authored by Senator Hill and passed by the Senate, proclaimed August 17, 2015, as Coats Eye Disease Awareness Day.
2014 BILLS SIGNED
SB 434 – CPUC Commissioner Board Conflicts. This reform bill prohibited current and future members of the CPUC from sitting on governing boards of entities they create as commissioners. The bill also tightened a conflict-of-interest provision to rein in the then-serving CPUC president. Since his appointment in 2002, he was involved in creating seven foundations and for-profit ventures funded with $160 million of ratepayer money, and he served on the boards of some of those entities. The foundations were not subject to the close scrutiny that legislative committees give third-party entities that receive taxpayer money, nor did they undergo merit reviews to ensure that ratepayers’ money was well spent.
SB 445 – Underground Storage Tank Cleanup. SB 445 sought to protect soil and groundwater from petroleum contamination by making several reforms to the state’s underground storage tank cleanup fund, such as requiring single-wall gas station tanks to be replaced within 10 years. SB 445 also allowed money from the fund to be used for surface and groundwater contamination cleanup and provided the State Water Board with more authority to crack down on fraud by claimants and consultants.
SB 611 – Limousine Safety Inspections. Spurred by a tragic limousine fire in 2013 that killed five women on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, SB 611 expanded safety protections to limousines that carrying 10 or fewer people. The bill required that modified limousines with a seating capacity of fewer than 10 passengers be equipped with two readily accessible and fully charged fire extinguishers and be inspected by the California Highway Patrol every 13 months.
SB 636 – Due Process in CPUC Penalty Proceedings. SB 636 preserved due process in CPUC penalty proceedings by allowing commission staff to serve in an advocacy role or in an advisory role, but not both concurrently. In 2013, the commission’s general counsel dismissed all the attorneys prosecuting PG&E. The attorneys felt it illegal and unethical to advocate that PG&E should not be penalized. Since the general counsel advises the commissioners, it would be unethical for the general counsel to also direct the prosecution. While an ethical separation of roles were general practice at the CPUC, agency guidelines at the time allowed the practice to be waived whenever convenient.
SB 699 – Electric Grid Security. SB 699 required the CPUC to adopt rules compelling utilities to protect the state’s electric power grid from vandalism and attack. The legislation was unanimously approved by the Senate just two days after the second of two serious security breaches in as many years at Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s Metcalf power substation near San Jose. The security breach occurred despite PG&E’s security improvements to the substation as a part of its three-year, $100 million program to increase security system wide. The improvements were prompted by an attack on April 16, 2013, in which snipers knocked out 17 giant transformers at the Metcalf facility and slipped into an underground vault to cut telephone cables. The former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission called the attack “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the United States.
SB 900 – CPUC Safety in Ratemaking. SB 900 required the CPUC to consider the safety performance of natural gas and electricity companies when setting customer rates and developing regulations. For at least three years, the CPUC recognized the need to scope safety into its proceedings, but was slow to develop procedures to do so. Because the commission at the time had only begun to incorporate risk management tools in its policymaking, it had yet to embed safety considerations in the process. SB 900 was intended to address that issue.
SB 915 – Mills High School Advanced Placement Testing. SB 915 clarified the rules for conducting advanced placement tests for college admission and placement so that investigations and retesting occur in a timely fashion if exams are called into question. It was sponsored by parents and students from Mills High School who submitted the bill idea in the Senator’s annual “Oughta Be a Law …” contest after the test scores of 286 Mills students on 641 advanced placement exams were invalidated in July 2013. When the testing process was challenged, the agency overseeing the exams deemed that “testing irregularities” occurred, even though an investigation turned up no evidence of cheating or other impropriety.
SB 968 – Martins Beach Access. SB 968 required the State Lands Commission to enter into negotiations with Silicon Valley billionaire and Martins Beach property owner Vinod Khosla for one year to acquire a right-of-way or easement for the creation of a public access route to and along the shoreline, including the sandy beach, at Martins Beach. Under SB 968, if the commission was unable to reach an agreement to acquire a right-of-way or easement or Khosla did not voluntarily provide public access by January 1, 2016, the commission could move to acquire a right-of-way or easement, pursuant to Public Resources Code Section 6210.9 (eminent domain), for the creation of a public access route to and along the shoreline.
SB 1027 – Bars Web Mug Shot ‘Extortion.’ SB 1027 barred websites from posting arrest mug shots and then charging hundreds, and if not thousands, of dollars to take the photos down. Sites that post mug shots and charge fees to remove them flourished by making the photos widely available online. The bill was aimed at stopping the shakedowns. A mug shot is included in an arrest record for identification purposes but it is not intended to imply guilt. In more than half of the cases in California, an arrest does not lead to a charge or conviction.
SB 1064 – NTSB Rail Safety Recommendations. SB 1064 required the CPUC to respond to National Transportation Safety Board recommendations for rail safety. The legislation mirrors Hill’s AB 578 of 2012, which required the PUC to reply to NTSB recommendations for natural gas safety within 90 days and to vote on those recommendations and how they will be carried out. A rail car on the Angel’s Flight Railway in Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill derailed in 2013, leading to a dangerous rescue of four passengers. The firefighter who led the effort had no ropes, railing or walkway to prevent him or the passengers from falling onto concrete 25 feet below. After a fatal 2001 accident on the line, the NTSB had recommended that the commission prevent Angel’s Flight from reopening unless a walkway was constructed to provide a safe path of escape, but the CPUC chose not to do so – an action NTSB considered “unacceptable,” but there was no mechanism to force the CPUC to comply.
SB 1249 – Auto & Appliance Shredder Waste Regulation. SB 1249 required the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to regulate shredded automobile and metal appliance waste. Roughly 700,000 tons of the waste –called fluff – is disposed of in the state’s landfills each year. But state toxics regulators had failed to revoke an exemption granted decades ago to the metal shredding industry regarding this type of waste, despite warnings from top scientists that the waste could become hazardous during the shredding process. A 2001 legal opinion by DTSC attorneys called the exemption “outdated and legally incorrect.” Seven fires have broken out at metal recycling facilities in the Bay Area since 2007. After fires in November and December, Redwood City leaders called on regulators to do more to help protect residents from future incidents. SB 1249 rescinded exemptions for facilities that deal with vehicle shredder waste and required DTSC to develop regulations to ensure that treatment, transport and disposal are conducted in a manner that protects public health and the environment. The legislation also provided for better DTSC oversight of the industry to prevent contamination, explosions and other risks to California communities.
SB 1311 – Establishing Hospital Protocols for Antibiotic Use in Patients. SB 1311 required general acute care hospitals in California to establish antimicrobial stewardship programs by July 1, 2015. Stewardship programs ensure that antibiotics are used only when necessary, that the right antibiotic is chosen, and that antibiotics are administered correctly.
SB 1409 – CPUC Safety Investigations Documentation. SB 1409 required the CPUC to list in a report the gas and electric accident investigations the commission finalized in the previous year, as well as those pending completion. The bill also required the commission to summarize these investigations in its annual report. The CPUC has reported that 150 fatalities and 413 injuries have occurred involving PG&E’s, Southern California Edison’s, and San Diego Gas and Electric’s electrical facilities since 2003. An average of 13 such fatalities occur in California each year. Although the CPUC was required by law to investigate accidents involving electricity infrastructure that result in fatalities and serious injuries, the investigations typically took years to complete, and there was no accounting of completed investigations or those in progress, nor was the public told of the nature of the accidents.
SB 1415 – Bay Area Quality Management District Advisory Council. SB 1415 modernized the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s (BAAQMD) Advisory Council. The BAAQMD was the only air management district in the state with prescriptive categories of people that must serve on their Advisory Council, which was established in 1959. SB 1415 reduced the cumbersome membership of 20 to a manageable seven, and required the members of the Advisory Council to be skilled and experienced in the fields of air pollution, the health impacts of air pollution or climate change.
SB 1430 – San Francisco International Airport Unlicensed Commercial Transportation Operators. SB 1430 closed a procedural loophole by enabling the San Mateo County District Attorney to prosecute unlicensed commercial transportation operators that illegally transport passengers to San Francisco International Airport.
SB 1433 – Modern Infrastructure Contracting. SB 1433 extended the sunset for the “design-build” contracting tool for transit operators for two years. “Design-build” is a contracting process that allows both the design of a project and its construction to be covered in a single contract—a tool well-suited to large, complicated infrastructure projects. This two-year extension better allows transit operators to deliver critical capital projects like the BART extension or the electrification of Caltrain.
Senate Concurrent Resolution
SCR 133, authored by Senator Hill and passed by the Legislature, set September 2014 as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
2013 BILLS SIGNED
SB 132 – Mountain Lion Protections. SB 132 resolved a dilemma that led to the fatal shooting of two starving cubs in Half Moon Bay on November 30, 2012. SB 132 requires that non-lethal procedures be used when the Department of Fish and Wildlife is called to deal with a mountain lion that has wandered into a residential area and does not pose an imminent threat to the public. The bill authorized the DFW to partner with wildlife groups and nonprofits in these cases. Non-lethal options that may be considered include capturing, pursuing, anesthetizing, marking, transporting, hazing, relocating, providing veterinary care to and rehabilitating mountain lions.
SB 139 – Extending Exchange Facilitator Consumer Protections. SB 139 removes the sunset date on provisions of the 2008 bill SB 1007, which defined the term “exchange facilitator” and established a series of allowable and prohibited actions for exchange facilitators. By deleting the sunset date in existing law, SB 139 ensures that the consumer protections of SB 1007 will continue indefinitely. Exchange Facilitators are persons who facilitate tax-deferred transactions known as IRS Section 1031 exchanges. Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code permits individuals and businesses to exchange similar real or personal property without triggering a taxable event. In order to defer the capital gain from the sale of property under Section 1031, the taxpayer cannot receive funds from the sale.
The United States Treasury identified several safe harbors that taxpayers could use to exchange like property and avoid a taxable event. Among the safe harbors are the use of a qualified intermediary and the use of a qualified trustee or escrow holder, both commonly referred to as an exchange facilitator. In the 1031 exchange proceeds from the sale would to go the exchange facilitator who holds them until they are needed to acquire a replacement property, then the funds are delivered to the closing agent. An exchange facilitator can generally hold distributed funds for up to 180 days while the exchange is completed.
SB 269 – Preventing Rental Scams. SB 269 increased the consumer protections available to people who obtain prepaid rental listing services from individuals licensed to provide those services. The bill also included changes to make it more difficult for unlicensed providers to engage in business. The high demand for rental properties created a market ripe for prepaid rental listing service scams. The Bureau of Real Estate encourages consumers to check their rental list providers before paying for services.
SB 291 – CPUC Electric Safety Enforcement. SB 291 required the California Public Utilities Commission to develop a safety enforcement program for gas and electric violations. Following National Transportation Safety Board and Independent Review Panel recommendations, the CPUC had allowed staff to cite utilities for gas safety violations, but the CPUC had not developed a program to improve safety using this increased staff authority. SB 291 also required the CPUC to extend this staff authority to electric safety violations. Roughly 10 people a year are killed at high- voltage electric facilities, but the CPUC had not opened enforcement actions against utilities for electrical violations in anything short of a massive wildfire.
SB 318 – Payday Loan Alternatives. SB 318 provided an alternative to payday loans by increasing access to loans for people who are unable to obtain affordable credit from banks and credit unions. Californians who lack credit scores or have very thin credit files have few options when they need to borrow money; credit cards and low-interest rate installment loans are commonly unavailable to them. Californians with subprime credit scores also have few options, and typically would go to payday lenders when their incomes fail to match their spending needs. SB 318 established a four-year pilot program to increase the availability of affordable, credit-building loans with principal amounts between $300 and $2,500. The bill built on a small-dollar loan pilot program enacted during 2010, which did not significantly increase the availability of responsible, small-dollar loans in California. SB 318 continued the successful aspects of the earlier pilot, modified components that did not worked as intended, and added consumer protections.
SB 407 – Preventing Extravagant Local Government Employee Contracts. SB 407 extended the compensation restrictions and Abuse of Power provisions of the 2011 bill AB 1344 to all local agency executives who work under an employment contract. AB 1344 restrictions stemmed from a 2010 salary scandal involving some Bell city officials. SB 407 expands restrictions applying to “local agency executives” so that deputy county executives, city managers and any other employee who has an employment contract with a local agency are included. SB 407 was aimed at preventing extravagant rewards to local agency employees and reducing the liability of local governments to provide paid leave and legal defense costs for employees who are convicted of abuse of power charges.
SB 472 – Hollywood Park Card Club. SB 472 allowed a three-year divestment period for the Hollywood Park Card Club after the Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas opens due to the card club’s unique ownership situation. California law prohibited entities from owning gaming interests within the state and outside of the state. SB 472 was intended to provide a smooth ownership transition for CalPERS and the pension funds, which own the card club, and the city of Inglewood, where the card club facility is located. Language in the bill prevented the Hollywood Park card club from utilizing Sahara funds during the divestment period and disallowed cross-promotion between the two facilities.
SB 482 – Removing Sunset on Grocery Store Price Verification Audit. SB 482 maintained consumer and business protections by continuing the criteria and methodology used by local governments to measure and verify the pricing accuracy of check-out stand scanners, which are also known as point-of-sale systems. The law reflected a consensus agreement between county officials and retailers, and created uniform, statewide standards and fees, thereby avoiding a county-by-county patchwork of scanner accuracy verification programs.
SB 538 – Investment Adviser Oversight. SB 538 increased consumer protections by empowering the Department of Business Oversight to better regulate investment advisers and broker-dealers. California did not perform regular examinations of its broker-dealers, their agents, or its investment advisers or their representatives, averaging a license review and examination frequency of once every 28 years compared to the suggested time frame of once every four years. Licensed broker-dealers and investment advisers were reviewed once, upon their initial application for a license, and often never again. SB 538 made several changes to the state's Corporate Securities Law of 1968 to improve the state's ability to protect California investors.
SB 557 – High-Speed Rail Protections on the Peninsula. SB 557 limited the high-speed rail project on the Peninsula to a blended, primarily two-track system that minimizes impacts to communities along the Caltrain right-of-way. It put to rest concerns on the Peninsula that the California High-Speed Rail Authority could revisit a four-track option that disrupts communities by giving local agencies, like Caltrain, veto-authority if a four-track option is broached again. The bill also closed a potential loophole by ensuring that funds cannot be transferred from the Peninsula segment to other segments of the project.
SB 589 – Vote-By-Mail Verification. SB 589 enabled voters to confirm their mail-in ballot was counted. Requires county election officials to establish a system allowing vote-by-mail voters to learn if their ballot was counted and, if it was not, why it wasn't. The 2012 general election was the first time a majority of voters in California cast their ballots by mail. This legislation was suggested by the winner of Hill's annual "Oughta Be a Law…or Not" contest, who wrote that he has voted by mail for more than a decade, but is not sure that his votes have been counted because he could not obtain confirmation from the registrar.
SB 594 – Nonprofit Campaign Activity Disclosure. Under SB 594, taxpayer-financed organizations are held to the same standards of accountability and transparency as any other political action committee. The bill improved the transparency of campaign activity by nonprofit organizations that receive at least 20 percent of their gross revenue from taxpayer dollars and that engage in political or campaign spending. SB 594 requires these organizations to deposit into a separate bank account and disclose on their website and to the Franchise Tax Board all sources of non-public funds that the organizations receive and spend on electioneering. SB 594 clarified that nonprofits cannot use public resources they receive for campaign activities. Public resources include funds generated from activities related to tax-exempt bond financing. The bill also requires the Franchise Tax Board to perform an audit when campaign activity by a nonprofit organizations amounts to $500,000 or more in a year.
SB 684 – Continued Use of RDA signs. SB 684 provided a process through Caltrans and local governments to allow continued use of Redevelopment Agency signs. The signs were approved by the redevelopment agencies, but since they were disbanded, legislation was necessary to allow for their continued use, provided they met specific standards. There were about 100 of such large signs, typically on the side of freeways or highways, directing people to various stores within the formed agencies’ boundaries.
SB 762 – Secondhand Goods: Lost, Stolen, or Embezzled Items. SB 762 enhanced laws governing the sales of unlicensed secondhand goods and provided additional due process protections to licensed pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers in order to limit the potential for criminal transfer of property.
Senate Concurrent Resolution
Authored by Senator Hill and passed by the Legislature, SCR 46 honored the National Academy of Sciences on its 150th anniversary.
2012 Bills Signed
AB 41 – High-Speed Rail Authority Transparency. AB 41 required High-Speed Rail Authority board members to disclose financial investments, closing a loophole that allowed board members to receive thousands of dollars from special interests while voting on issues that impact those very interests. The bill also requires that rail authority’s internal peer reviewers do the same.
AB 45 – The Brett Studebaker Law. AB 45 aimed to prevent underage drinking on party buses. Then-existing law held limousine operators responsible for preventing underage drinking in their vehicles did, but did not impose similar responsibilities on party bus operators. AB 45 made charter party vehicle companies responsible for asking the person reserving the chartered vehicle whether alcohol will be served and if there will be anyone on board under 21 years old. Under the legislation, an adult chaperone must be present if alcohol and persons under 21 will be on board. Party bus companies are now subject to license suspension or revocation for non-compliance. Bus drivers are subject to a misdemeanor if they do not comply and chaperones are also subject to a misdemeanor for providing alcohol to a minor. Brett Studebaker, 19, of Burlingame died in 2010 after celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday aboard a party bus. About 2 a.m., the bus dropped off Studebaker and other party-goers at their cars after a night of heavy drinking. He died about 30 minutes later after crashing his car into a soundwall. His blood alcohol concentration was 0.26, more than three times the legal limit for an adult.
AB 374 – Funeral Directors. AB 374 allowed funeral establishments to obtain an establishment license by submitting a request to secure a bond in lieu of an audit report. There are occasions when the owner of a funeral establishment dies, and the license is transferred to a new owner and it may be impossible to immediately submit an audit of the preneed trust funds in order to complete the assignment of the license. The inability to assign the funeral establishment license, and complete the transfer of ownership, keeps funeral businesses from carrying on their business operations.
AB 578 – Federal NTSB Safety Recommendations on Gas Pipeline Safety. AB 578 required the California Public Utilities Commission to act on gas safety recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board. Before the San Bruno explosion in 2010, the NTSB had repeatedly recommended the installation of emergency shutoff valves, which might have shut off the gas to the fire in as few as five to 15 minutes instead of the 90 minutes it took PG&E to manually close the valves. Also, the explosion of a Cupertino condominium and a seven-hour fire in an intersection in Roseville were caused by a type of pipe that killed forty people in the 1990s and about which the NTSB had made recommendations that the CPUC never acted on.
AB 838 – Electronic Waybills. AB 838 clarified that a waybill, or trip report, used by charter party carriers such as limos and party buses, can be kept in either hard copy or electronic format. Waybills contain information such as the point of origin and destination of the traveling party and identifying information about the traveling party.
AB 861 – Utility Incentive Compensation. AB 861 required the CPUC to determine the appropriate ratemaking treatment of bonus compensation for utility executives based on the utility's stock price or financial performance. Utilities are not typical corporations. They cannot increase their profit by increasing market share or selling more product. They cannot raise their revenue as the total amount they are able to recover in rates is set by the CPUC. The only way a public utility can increase its profit is by cutting its operations and maintenance costs, as has been clearly demonstrated by PG&E in the years leading up to the San Bruno explosion.
AB 1277 – Reducing Duplicative State and Federal Government Inspections. AB 1277 streamlined duplicative inspections performed on biotechnology companies by the federal Food and Drug Administration and the state Food and Drug Branch. The bill clarified 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.
AB 1301 – Reducing Sales of Tobacco to Minors. AB 1301 cracked 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 recasting then-existing penalties. If a store is convicted three times in a five-year window, its license would be suspended for 45 days. Five convictions in a five-year window would result in license revocation.
AB 1452 – Child Safety Car Seats. AB 1452 required hospitals, clinics and birthing centers when discharging a child to inform the parents where they can have a child passenger restraint system inspected and receive instruction on its proper installation at no cost. Over 90 percent of parents and caregivers believe their child safety seats are installed correctly, but National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research showed that seven out of 10 children are improperly restrained, putting them at risk for serious injury or death in a crash. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death of children ages 3 to 14 years. According to the NHTSA, child safety seats can reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers, ages 1 to 4.
AB 1456 – Gas Safety Performance. AB 1456 required the CPUC to develop measures and standards for gas safety. The CPUC's own Independent Review Panel criticized the regulatory agency for not monitoring and enforcing safety performance at PG&E prior to the San Bruno explosion. This bill required the CPUC to determine what constitutes safe operation and gave the agency the ability to assess penalties against utilities for poor performance.
AB 1718 – Real Estate Broker Licenses. AB 1718 strengthened the requirement that potential real estate brokers have actual practical experience – at least two years – in the real estate field prior to obtaining their broker's license. Before AB 1718 it was possible to become a real estate broker – someone who supervises agents, reviews documents and has other oversight responsibilities – without having any real-world experience in the real estate industry.
AB 1782 – Weighmasters Exemption. AB 1782 streamlined government regulation by removing a duplicative requirement that is currently required by two departments. The California Department of Public Health already tracked and required reporting for the hauling and disposal of medical waste in California to ensure that medical waste is properly counted, tracked and treated. This bill eliminated the duplication of the same process by the Department of Food and Agriculture, which required that certified weighmasters manually record medical waste weight information and keep paper records.
AB 2019 – Foster Family Home Protections. AB 2019 prohibited insurance companies from denying or terminating homeowners’ insurance policies to those who are foster parents in certified foster family homes.
AB 2165 – Increasing the Net Metering Cap for Fuel Cells. AB 2165 was introduced to enable fivefold expansion of fuel cell generation in the state by increasing the amount of clean electricity that generators can sell back to the grid. Fuel cells are a clean, low-carbon technology and are an important part of California's diverse renewable energy portfolio.
AB 2167 – Bay Area Water Supply Conservation Agency Financing. AB 2167 helped save up to $35 million for water customers in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda and San Francisco counties by allowing the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency to issue bonds at a low interest rate for the repayment of drinking water infrastructure improvement costs.
AB 2372 – Payment of Deposition Transcript Costs. AB 2372 required that the requesting attorney or party appearing in propria persona, upon the written request of a deposition officer who has obtained a final judgment for payment of services, provide to the deposition officer an address that can be used to effectuate personal service for the purpose of an order of examination. The bill addressed a problem that occurs \when an attorney refuses to pay the bills of the deposition reporters they retain, even after the licensed court reporter obtains a small claims judgment.
AB 2433 – San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority. AB 2433 clarified that the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority, known as WETA, shall use staggered terms for its board of directors to prevent all board members from terming out at the same time. This helped ensure that experienced members serve alongside new members. WETA is comprised of five members who are appointed by the governor, Senate, and Assembly, and is charged with building and operating a comprehensive and environmental friendly public water transit system of ferries, feeder buses and terminals to increase regional mobility in the Bay Area and improve the ability of ferries to respond in an emergency.
AB 2570 – Eliminating Regulatory Gag Clauses. SB 2570 allowed the Department of Consumer Affairs to better investigate professional misconduct. It prohibited licensees and professionals overseen by DCA from including a "gag clause" in settlement agreements for civil cases that would prohibit a third party from communicating with DCA.
Assemblymember Hill introduced three house resolutions that were adopted by the Assembly:
- In HR 34, the Assembly declared its support for STEM education, urged development of after-school and summer programs as well as workshops, and urged development of more STEM outreach programs to recruit girls and women to pursue STEM studies and careers.
- HR 36 celebrated the 100th anniversary of the groundbreaking of the state highway system in San Mateo County.
- HR 37 encourages acute care hospitals to participate in free collection programs that provide parents of children born in those hospitals with the option of storing the child’s umbilical cord blood and cord tissue – at no cost to parents – so the cord blood and tissue may be used for therapeutic purposes as therapies using the material become medically available.
2011 Bills Signed
ABX1 15 – Tax Clarification for California Solar Companies. ABX-15 provided tax certainty for solar energy companies located in California. It clarified the types of financing mechanisms that can be used to make it more affordable for people to install solar on their homes, enabling the state to be more competitive in luring solar firms. One example was Maryland-based SunEdison, which relocated its corporate headquarters to the city of Belmont in San Mateo County. Another example was SolarCity in San Mateo.
AB 50 – Exempting San Bruno Gas Explosion Victims from Taxes on Relief Payments. AB 50 exempted San Bruno residents from paying state taxes on recovery money they received from Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the Red Cross and the City of San Bruno after the 2010 PG&E gas pipeline explosion that leveled a neighborhood, killing 8 people, injuring 51 others, destroying 38 homes and damaging 70 others.
AB 56 – Gas Pipeline Safety. Prompted by the deadly San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, AB 56 required remote-controlled shut off valves in high population areas and the comprehensive testing and record-keeping of transmission lines. It also prohibited utilities from using ratepayer money to pay penalties for safety violations assessed by the California Public Utilities Commission and required natural gas corporations to meet annually with local fire departments to review emergency response plans.
AB 75 – Cracking Down on Fraudulent Solicitations. AB 75 allowed the Secretary of State's office to use its discretion and refuse to process documents that are clearly intended for fraudulent purposes. At the time, deceptive solicitation schemes had risen over then-recent years, taking advantage of statutorily required filing with the Secretary of State. The misleading solicitations sent to companies sometimes appeared to be official government documents and implied that the company must pay an exorbitant fee in order to file the documents with the Secretary of State. AB 75 was a constituent bill idea contest winner from 2010.
AB 89 – Pension Reform Savings for San Mateo County. AB 89 allowed San Mateo County to implement a memorandum of understanding providing lower retirement tiers for new employees represented by the Deputy Sheriff's Association. At the time, the county had recently negotiated a six-year MOU with the union that required new hires to choose reduced retirement formulas – a change with projected savings of over $10 million.
AB 320 – CEQA Clarification. AB 320 clarified that the "real party in interest" named in a California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit for a particular project are those identified by the lead agency as persons undertaking the publicly-funded project or receiving the permit. Before AB 320 became law, to prevent important cases from being dismissed by procedural tactics, CEQA practitioners were forced to name and serve parties that neither wanted nor needed to be involved.
AB 459 – National Popular Vote for President. AB 459 sought to enact a national popular vote for U.S. president wherein whichever candidate receives the most votes will be guaranteed to be elected. Currently, candidates campaign exclusively in a few battleground state and often ignore issues of particular importance to California. Under this bill California, in conjunction with other states, would award all of its electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The legislation would not go into effect until it is adopted by states representing a majority of the Electoral College. AB 459 was constituent bill idea contest winner for 2011.
AB 1349 – Discretion for Judges, Paternity, Non-Biological Parents. AB 1349 strengthened the legal rights of non-biological parents in California. The bill allowed courts leeway in cases where there is both a non-biological parent who has an established relationship with a child and a man who signed a voluntary declaration of paternity. It was written in response to a ruling that found that courts could not recognize a non-biological parent who has raised a child, even though the biological father had no relationship with the child.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution
ACR 56, introduced by Assemblymember Hill and passed by the Legislature, honored the 61st anniversary of National Flag Day on June 14, 2011, and honored the 51st anniversary of the United States’ 50-star American flag.
2010 Bills Signed
ABX6 11 – Tax Relief, San Bruno Gas Pipeline Disaster Victims. ABX6-11 provided tax relief to victims of San Bruno gas pipeline disaster. It allowed homeowners who qualified for a $7,000 state property tax exemption to still receive that write-off even if their home was destroyed in the PG&E gas pipeline explosion and ensuing fire. ABX6-11 also provided assistance to the city of San Bruno, local schools and San Mateo County by requiring the state to backfill first-year local revenue losses that resulted from downward reassessment of taxpayers affected by the disaster.
AB 787 – Incentives to Retire High-Polluting Vehicles. AB 787 increased the amount of money low-income Californians receive to retire smog-belching vehicles from $1,000 to $1,500. The program was funded by limiting the subsidy – then up to $400 -- the state provided to all Californians to fix vehicles that failed a smog check. AB 787 made only motorists with incomes below 225 percent of the federal poverty level eligible for the subsidy.
AB 1414 – Removing Barriers for Parkinson’s Patient Access to Medication. AB 1414 was introduced in response to a letter Assemblymember Hill received from biotechnology company Tercica, located in the City of Brisbane in his Assembly District. The bill removes apomorphine from the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act, which will aid patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease by making medications more accessible and affordable. The federal government removed apomorphine from all drug schedules in 1976 but California was the only remaining state that had not reclassified the drug.
AB 1487 – Reproductive Technology: HIV Positive Couples, HIV Negative Children. Sponsored by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, AB 1487 made it possible for HIV positive couples to have HIV-free biological children of their own using advanced reproductive technology.
AB 1601 – Cracking Down on Repeat DUI Offenders. AB 1601 empowered judges to suspend a driver’s license for 10 years after a third DUI conviction. Before AB 1601, the limit for suspending a license was three years and the authority to suspend a license rested with the Department of Motor Vehicles. It was estimated that if every judge used the 10-year license revocation created by AB 1601, over 10,000 repeat DUI offenders would be removed from California roadways every year.
AB 1748 – San Mateo County Community College District Special Events. AB 1748 enabled the San Mateo County Community College District to serve alcohol at special events on campus, including in its then-new dining commons at the College of San Mateo. State law generally prohibits the possession, consumption and sale of alcoholic beverages at public schools; however, recent legislation at the time allowed school districts within a county to sell alcohol at special events. College campuses throughout California including Los Angeles, Stanislaus and Alameda counties had utilized the exemption as a way to host special events and generate additional revenue for the district.
AB 1885 – Cracking Down on Pirate Limousine Drivers at SFO. AB 1885 increased the penalty for pirate limousine drivers at San Francisco International Airport from a simple infraction to a misdemeanor. AB 1885 made drivers who illegally solicit business on airport grounds subject to up to six months in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.
AB 2103 – Generating Funding for Improvements to San Francisco Bay Restoration. AB 1203 allowed the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority to use a one-time, nine-county election to put improvements to the Bay Area’s ecosystem before voters instead of then-current method of conducting separate elections in each individual county.
AB 2404 – Consumer Disclosure, Insurance Cancellations Fees. AB 2404 required insurance companies to disclose cancellation fees to consumers prior to the creation or renewal of an insurance policy. This bill was introduced in response to consumer complaints received by the California Department of Insurance.
The Legislature passed and the governor signed into law four technical bills introduced by Assemblymember Hill. AB 1431 renamed the Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors so title also embraces geologists and geophysicists, professions that are licensed by the board. The title became the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists. AB 1767 pertained to expert witnesses who provide testimony for board that licenses physicians and surgeons; AB 1996 set a license renewal fee for chiropractors; and AB 2350 provided that juveniles held as status offenders may be held only for 24 hours, except those who are out-of-state runaways being held pursuant to the Interstate Compact on Juveniles – a change that aligned California with federal guidelines.
Assembly Concurrent Resolutions
Assemblymember Hill introduced three Assembly Concurrent Resolutions that were adopted by both houses:
- ACR 80 declared the Legislature’s support for a Bill of Rights for the Children and Youth of California.
- ACR 116 proclaimed May 12, 2010, as California Lab Day.
- ACR 117 proclaimed February 28, 2010, as Rare Disease Day.
Assembly Joint Resolutions
Assemblymember Hill also introduced two Assembly Joint Resolutions that were adopted by both houses:
- AJR 43 encouraged Congress and the President of the United States to establish a standard for broadcasters and other users to minimize the “audio loudness differential” between televised programs and commercials.
- AJR 44 asked Congress and the President of the United States to provide for proper conservation of whale stocks. The measure also memorialized the Legislature’s opposition to any proposals that would lift the International Whaling Commission’s Moratorium on commercial whaling, legalize commercial whaling, authorize new whaling quotas for nations that had violated the moratorium, or allow whaling to resume in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
2009 Bills Signed
AB 232 – Saving State Money, Electronic Transactions by State Agencies: CalSTRS. AB 232 allowed the California State Teachers Retirement System to implement technology improvements, such as switching from paper transactions with customers to online and e-mail transactions. The changes reduced environmental impacts and were projected to save the state about $1 million annually.
AB 637 – Saving State Money, Electronic Transactions by State Agencies: CalPERS. AB 637 required the California Public Employees' Retirement System contracting agencies to use Electronic Funds Transfer for payments to reduce paper transactions, enabling savings estimated to be hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
AB 906 – Energy Efficiency Programs. AB 906 helped local governments take advantage of existing energy efficiency programs without violating state laws that prohibit economic conflicts of interest.
AB 1070 – Consumer Protection, Medical Board of California. AB 1070 increased the Medical Board of California’s ability to protect health care consumers by clarifying the board’s ability to enforce proper reporting, licensing and regulation of physicians and surgeons.
AB 1465 – Water Conservation. AB 1465 helped California meet its drought and water shortage challenges by ensuring that urban water suppliers that are members of the California Urban Water Conservation Council are in compliance with the Urban Water Management Planning Act.
Assemblymember Hill also was one of nine legislators coauthoring Senator Gloria Romero’s SB 471, which created the California Stem Cell and Biotechnology Education and Workforce Development Act of 2009 to establish stem cell and biotechnology education and workforce development as a state priority and to promote stronger links among industry sectors, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and California public schools.