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Sacramento Snapshot: What OC legislation has been killed in Sacramento?

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.

In what is a rather speedy process of approving or axing legislation, California legislators essentially killed hundreds of bills last week.

During the twice-a-year process of what is called the “suspense file,” appropriations committees in the Assembly and Senate — responsible for discussing and passing bills that have to do with where and how money is spent — held back hundreds of bills they deemed to have a potentially great fiscal impact on the state.

California this year is facing an estimated $31.8 billion budget deficit, something legislators had to keep in mind as they decided the bills’ fates.

The Senate approved 326 measures on the suspense file, or 78%, and the Assembly approved 535, or 71%, according to CalMatters.

This year, bills from Orange County representatives dealing with electricity rates, housing plans and more hit the suspense roadblock.

That includes a bill from Assemblymember Laurie Davies, R-Laguna Niguel, that aimed to require calls made by counties to applicants or recipients of a social services benefits program to be made using a displayed number. A majority use blocked or masked numbers, she has said, and immigrants, people with disabilities and elderly residents, in particular, may not answer those calls — meaning they could be denied benefits.

Also killed was a bill — included in the Assembly GOP’s “supporting law enforcement and California” package — that would have required the Office of Emergency Services to create a website with resources, including readily available local and statewide services, for victims of domestic violence.

Assemblymember Tri Ta’s bill to “cap electricity rate increases to the rate of inflation” also did not make it through the process. The Westminster Republican said he is “extremely disappointed that my colleagues have decided not to protect consumers from out-of-control prices.”

Over in the upper chamber, legislation from Sen. Catherine Blakespear to mandate cities and counties provide proposals for homeless-serving housing as part of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation plans was killed.

“I identify homelessness as the state’s top problem,” Blakespear, who represents southern Orange County communities, previously said. “I don’t look around at our systems right now and believe we are going to reduce homelessness because all of the current systems provide money or help for people but doesn’t have the goal of reducing homelessness to zero.”

And then there was a bill from Sen. Kelly Seyarto, R-Murrieta, to give tax credits to people who provide housing below market rates to nonprofits that assist domestic violence victims. Seyarto had said his bill would help rectify California’s high-cost rental markets which can be a barrier to helping domestic violence survivors obtain housing.

In other news

• Blakespear convened the first hearing of the Transportation Subcommittee on LOSSAN Rail Corridor Resiliency last week, with Sens. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, and Janet Nguyen, R-Huntington Beach. also participating. The LOSSAN corridor, which stands for Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo, moves freight and passengers through the region.

“The LOSSAN rail corridor has never been in more jeopardy,” Blakespear said during the hearing.

The tracks are not resilient, she said, not due to human error but because of climate change. In the southern portion of the corridor, trains haven’t run but for two weeks out of the last six months.

The next meeting is expected to explore the science behind the threats to the corridor, such as sea-level rise, coastal erosion and impacts from our built environment on rail, according to Blakespear’s office. Set for July, it will also cover the overall regional, inter-regional, state and national benefits of the rail line, the various investments that have gone and are going to the corridor and what more needs to be done, her office said.

• Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken and Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan traveled to Sacramento last week as part of the Big City Mayors coalition — made up of mayors from California’s 13 largest cities — to advocate for more homeless funding and mental health and substance abuse beds. Aitken also lobbied legislators in Sacramento in early March regarding housing policies.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report. 

Source: Orange County Register

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