The Mendocino Beacon

Bills, bills and more bills at California Legislatur­e

- By Sameea Kamal

They've been back for nearly a month, so it's time for California lawmakers to deliver on some of their campaign promises. That means the legislativ­e session is starting to pick up steam.

Let's get to the highlights from a busy Monday at the state Capitol (warning: prepare for quite a bit of déjà vu):

• Public safety: Republican legislator­s unveiled a package of bills — acknowledg­ing the recent mass shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, as well as the deaths of two officers in Riverside County — but also bringing back some prior ideas.

The Assembly GOP caucus proposals include: — Assembly Bill 328, by Riverside-area Assemblyme­mber Bill Essayli, would reinstate the 10or 20 years-to-life mandatory sentencing enhancemen­t for using a firearm in the course of a violent crime — AB 335by Modesto-area Assemblyme­mber Juan Alanis, would repeal Propositio­n 47, approved by voters in 2014 to reduce some theft and drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeano­rs.

— AB 27, by Orange County Assemblyme­mber Tri Ta would prevent courts from reducing sentences for those charged with felonies with a firearm.

— AB 75by Assemblyme­mber Josh Hoover, from Folsom re-ups an effort to increase penalties for serial theft offenses.

— AB 88 by Murrieta Assemblyme­mber Kate Sanchez, would require district attorneys to notify crime victims of parole hearings. — Granite Bay Assemblyme­mber Joe Patterson proposed requiring more transparen­cy into when and why inmates are being released early.

• Essayli: “We don't need more gun control. We need crime control.”

While Assembly Republican leader James Gallagher of Chico said he believes there will be “bipartisan support for these reasonable reforms,” some GOP lawmakers acknowledg­ed the reality that many of these bills won't pass, noting that similar bills introduced by Democrats had failed, too. Climate change: Democratic Sens. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, Lena Gonzales of Long Beach and Henry Stern from Calabasas introduced, or rather reintroduc­ed, a package of bills. Wiener put forward SB 253, the Climate Corporate Data Accountabi­lity Act — a bill that failed last year to require corporatio­ns with more than $1billion in revenue that operate in California to publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions. He said the bill would make corporatio­ns “a heck of a lot more interested in buying clean energy.” • Wiener: “It gives large corporatio­ns two options: disclose your emissions publicly or stop doing business in California — and they won't choose the latter.” Gonzalez introduced SB 252, a proposal that was also blocked last year and that seeks to force the state's public pension funds to divest from fossil fuels. Stern introduced SB 261, another measure that also failed last year. It requires companies that earn more than $500 million in revenue to prepare climate-related financial risk reports.

The climate efforts come in the midst of negotiatio­ns to cover a projected $22.5billion budget deficit. Newsom has proposed cutting $6billion from the $54 billion, five-year climate package he pushed through last year.

Wait, even more happened Monday:

Natural gas bills: The Senate Republican Caucus fired off a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission demanding it offer financial relief to families facing skyrocketi­ng bills when it meets this week.

• “California­ns are facing natural gas bills that are double and even triple their usual cost. These high gas bills add to the financial hardships California­n families are already facing, such as rising inflation and high cost of living.”

Media access: State Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat, introduced legislatio­n to restore media access to California prisons and jails, as well as opening access to prisons for legislator­s and other state officials for effective oversight.

• Skinner: “California used to allow the news media much greater access to state prisons, enabling us to learn more about prison conditions. But for the past three decades, California prisons have been among the least transparen­t in the nation.”

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