by Gene Wunderlich
Friday, June 1st was the cut-off date in Sacramento for bills to pass from their house of origin or die. That means if a bill was introduced in the Senate, it had to be passed out of committee and passed on the floor of the Senate to travel over to the Assembly for their consideration and vice-versa. During this process, some bills are just parked in a committee or ‘held under submission’ and simply die a quiet death without ever seeing the light of day. Other bills do come through committee review and, while many are voted down on party line votes, a surprising number survive that process to come to a full vote of the Senate or Assembly.
If you happen to be a Republican legislator in Sacramento, you have two chances of getting your bill through a committee and onto the floor – slim and none. On the other hand, if you are a Democratic legislator chances are whatever you write up in bill format will likely be passed. You could add the preface ‘As Introduced’ to your grocery list and odds are good it would pass – probably with a few amendments adding costly items you may have forgotten. That’s just the way it works.
Keeping that in mind, your Southwest California Legislative Council has made an effort to lend our support or opposition to bills in a bi-partisan and even-handed manner. After all, if all you do is oppose a legislator’s bills, they tend to tune you out. But if you support one bill while opposing another by the same author, they might at least consider your arguments in opposition and possibly amend the offensive language out of their bill. At least that’s the hope.
Sometimes those efforts go for naught as we ended up opposing 3 bills by Assembly Speaker Perez without finding a single bill of his we could support. We had better luck with Senate President Pro-Tem Steinberg as we supported his efforts to identify a redevelopment funding source for low to moderate income housing (SB 654) even though we opposed two other bills of his on tort reform and mortgage reform. All three of his bills passed the Senate.
Senator Emmerson’s bill (SB 1655) to return Vehicle License Fees to Wildomar & Menifee seemed to be proceeding nicely until it hit a last minute snag in Committee and died. So Wildomar gets to live with the loss of 22% of their anticipated (and promised) revenue while Menifee takes their lumps losing 18%. Assemblyman Jeffries 5-year effort (ACA 1) to force the legislature to live by the rules they impose on others by making bills available to read at least 24 hours before requiring a vote was finally granted a 10 minute hearing in committee and spiked.
Through the first half of the legislative year, the SWCLC has taken positions on 59 bills. Our ecumenical outreach resulted in supporting 31 bills while opposing 27. (If you’re doing the math, we adopted a ‘Watch’ position on 1 bill). Of the bills we opposed, 14 either died in committee or floor votes. Of those we supported, 14 died in committee or floor votes and 14 passed. A summary of these actions and how your legislators voted is available at www.SouthwestCA.biz.
If you’d like to find out more about the Southwest California Legislative Council and how it can benefit your business, check with your local Chamber of Commerce. All Chamber members are invited to SWCLC open meetings as a member benefit. We are your voice for Southwest California business in Sacramento.
Gene Wunderlich is Legislative Liaison for the Southwest California Legislative Council, a coalition of the Temecula Valley, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore Valley and Wildomar Chambers of Commerce.