Starting Monday, Appropriations Committees will hold auction-style hearings to consider hundreds of bills tagged with potential fiscal costs to the state.
At this stage in 2019, dozens failed to progress, with committee chairs rarely spelling out the reasons why. This year, the committees will see far fewer bills, with most focusing on wildfires, responses to COVID-19 and the economic fallout. The state is facing a projected deficit of $54 billion, and delayed filing deadlines means tax revenues for this year will not be known until July – setting the stage for perhaps more bills than usual to be held in committee this week.
Three bills to watch are on the docket for Assembly Appropriations on Tuesday, with two related to climate policy. Assembly Bill 3256 is a climate resilience bond for nearly $7 billion that offers several incentives grants for conservation and climate-smart agriculture practices. There has been much debate in the Legislature over putting a bond measure on the November ballot during a recession. A similar bond proposal has stalled in the Senate and Gov. Gavin Newsom has pulled his bond proposal.
Meanwhile, AB 2954 proposes a pathway for including natural and working lands within the next Scoping Plan for California’s AB 32 climate goals. That bill, by Assemblymember Robert Rivas of Hollister, faces opposition from several farm groups. Rivas is also advancing AB 2043, which would mandate statewide adoption of Cal/OSHA safety guidelines for COVID-19, regardless of county ordinances, while also directing the agency to increase enforcement.