Monday, June 3, 2013

Fifteen of 21 CCBA Bills on Track for Enactment at Mid-Point of 2013 Legislative Year

The first half of the 2013 legislative year is behind us, and bills on the Conference of California Bar Association's (CCBA) 2013 Legislative Program are faring well.  Of the 21 bills introduced so far this year, 15 have been approved by their house of introduction. Six will have to wait until next year.

The CCBA's 71% passage rate for legislation is well above the legislative average for the year so far.
Of the 2,255 bills introduced in 2013, only 1,269 (56%) were approved by their houses of origin by last week's Friday, May 31, deadline for bills to move from one house to the other, and thus.remain on track to be enacted this year.

Speaker Pérez
Several of the measures sponsored or supported by the CCBA barely made that deadline.  Most of those bills were held up because they were placed on the Suspense File in the Appropriations of Committees of the two houses.  The Suspense File is where the Legislature's fiscal committees send bills that are projected to have fiscal impact in any single fiscal year of $50,000 from the state's General Fund, or of $150,000 from any other funds, and it has been the killing ground for hundreds of bills in the recent years of fiscal austerity.  With a bit more money available this year, more Suspense measures were approved, including four CCBA-sponsored bills - three of which went on to obtain unanimous floor votes. Those included:

  • AB 16 by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), which would extend the protections of California's felony domestic violence law to persons in a dating or engagement relationship.  The measure, based on CCBA Resolution 06-05-2009, was approved on a vote of 78-0.  
  • SB 249 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), which would amend HIV confidentiality laws to allow the sharing of HIV information for the limited purpose of coordination of care during the transition to a new health care option, and would extend the protections that now apply to only HIV blood tests to all types of HIV tests.  The bill, which includes CCBA Resolution 08-01-2012, was approved by the Senate 39-0.
  • SB 669 by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), which would create a training program and standards for the safe and proper use of epinephrine auto-injectors, make epinephrine auto-injectors available to trained first responders and group leaders, and allow these trained individuals to use the prescribed epinephrine auto-injectors on persons suffering from a potentially fatal anaphylaxis, without facing civil liability for trying save a life. SB 669, based on CCBA Resolution 08-05-2012, was approved by the Senate on a 38-0 vote. 
Assm. Lowenthal
A fourth CCBA-sponsored bill that cleared Suspense was also approved by its house of origin, but by a less  substantial margin.  AB 994 by Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), which would require all California counties to establish misdemeanor diversion programs, was approved on a vote of 47-29. The bill is the outgrowth of several CCBA Resolutions, most recently 12-04-2012.

For two other bills, the suspense of the last week was based on policy concerns, not fiscal. AB 604 by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), a CCBA-backed bill based in part on Resolution 01-13-2010 to enact statutory policies and procedures regarding the collection and handling of eyewitness evidence in criminal investigations, and to create a jury instruction informing juries of the relative accuracy of eyewitness identification procedures, was approved Thursday by a bare-minimum vote of 41-34.

Assm. Wagner
And AB 788 by Assemblymember Don Wagner (R-Irvine), a CCBA-sponsored bill (Resolution 01-06-2012) to codify custom and practice by specifically authorizing attorneys to  make copies of purchased copies of official deposition or court transcripts for internal office use, to respond to subpoenas, and pursuant to court order or rule - but not to sell for a profit - was approved on the final day pre-deadline by a deceptively-wide 57-11 margin, after becoming a target of the politically powerful court reporters and their allies in organized labor.

Of course, there will be no time to savor the victories.  The Legislature shifts immediately this week to second-house policy committee hearings, which must be concluded by the beginning of July.  Three CCBA-sponsored measures are scheduled to be heard this week, with many more in the weeks ahead.

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