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Sacramento Snapshot: Orange County legislators get to work

Editor’s note: Sacramento Snapshot is a weekly series during the legislative session detailing what Orange County’s representatives in the Assembly and Senate are working on — from committee work to bill passages and more. 

Now that the election dust has settled, legislators in Sacramento are off to work.

There’s a lot on the table this session — a potential budget deficit, the governor’s special session call to set penalties for big oil companies engaging in price gouging and housing, just to name a few.

Although the legislature officially convened in December, it was a largely ceremonial day of electing legislative leaders and swearing in new members. Now, after the holiday break, legislators are back to a rainy — and in some parts, without power — Sacramento.

Although many have already filed what they dub priority bills, legislators have more than a month until the final day to file legislation. That means committees aren’t quite yet holding hearings.

For Assemblymember Laurie Davies, R-Laguna Niguel, this quieter time of session is used to build relationships and meet the new members — and there are many of them in both chambers. Her schedule right now, she said, is filled with “a lot of coffees.”

Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, is gearing up to once again chair the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, a policy committee with broad jurisdiction covering privacy, COVID-19, social media, liability and more.

Expect to see Umberg, a former federal prosecutor, champion legislation this year requiring mandatory reporting for lawyers — meaning, lawyers who know or should know of serious misconduct on the part of another lawyer would have to report it to the State Bar.

Umberg said California is the only state that doesn’t require mandatory reporting of misconduct.

Umberg, too, said his biggest local priority is the Angel Stadium deal.

“The issue concerning the previous attempted sale will get resolved here in the next year, but learning from that debacle, moving forward, what do we need to do to make sure the dissolution, the lease or renovation of the stadium is done consistent with the law and in the best interest of Anaheim taxpayers,” Umberg said.

Many legislators, including Davies and Umberg, plan to tackle fentanyl-related issues this year as well.

For Davies, that includes ensuring schools have naloxone on site. Assembly Republicans have already backed a bill increasing the penalty for selling or transporting fentanyl as part of their “California Promise” agenda.

Umberg’s proposal is still a work in progress, he said, but essentially it creates implied intent, meaning someone could be charged with murder if they had been previously convicted of selling fentanyl, did it again and someone died. He also wants to give people the ability to test substances for fentanyl.

“We’re losing way too many teens and adults when it comes to fentanyl,” Davies said. “There needs to be accountability. I’m optimistic that there will be good bills this year.”

In other news

• Gov. Gavin Newsom was inaugurated to his second term on Friday, Jan. 6. He kicked off his inauguration — which fell on the two-year anniversary of the Capitol insurrection in Washington, D.C. — with a march to the State Capitol.

• Assemblymember Kate Sanchez, R-Rancho Santa Margarita, filed two bills this week that she said “express my support of crime victims and my dedication to ensuring that their voice is always heard.” One requires district attorneys to notify crime victims if a representative will not be sent to attend a parole hearing. The other prohibits the Board of Parole Hearings from requiring more than 15 days’ notice for a victim, next of kin, family member, representative or counsel to attend a parole suitability hearing.

• Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Irvine, filled legislation to expand access to immediate postpartum long-acting reversible contraception, like IUDs. As she explains it, the idea is to extend access to these sorts of contraceptives to women who may wish to have the procedure done while already receiving postpartum or gynecologic inpatient care by expanding California’s Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment coverage and reimbursements.

• Orange County Democratic senators will chair various committees this year, including: Bob Archuleta, Military and Veterans Affairs; Dave Min, Natural Resources and Water; Josh Newman, Education; and Tom Umberg, Judiciary.

• Assembly Budget Vice Chair Vince Fong of Central Valley and Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher of Yuba City sent a letter to the governor on Friday, Jan. 6, asking him to invest in California’s water infrastructure, especially in the wake of the heavy storms hitting the state. The governor is set to unveil his preliminary budget next week, and the pair of Republicans asked for funding for repairs to the California Aqueduct and money for the Sites Reservoir in Northern California, specifically.

Source: Orange County Register

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