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New California Laws? Here’s A Roundup Of Bills Passed This Week By Lawmakers At The Capitol

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

This week, California lawmakers debated hundreds of bills, as the 2017-18 legislative session came to a close. Here are a few that will have the biggest impact in the years to come (if Gov. Jerry Brown chooses to sign them).  

And look back at our end of session live blog to see more of what transpired in the Legislature this week.

 

The End Of Cash Bail

California will become the first state to completely get rid of cash bail for suspects awaiting trial under a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Instead of putting up money to obtain their release, people charged with a felony will go through a pre-trial risk assessment. If a judge releases them, they would be supervised by a government agency or business contracted to handle that task.

People arrested for most misdemeanors would be booked and released without an assessment.

The new law will go into effect in October 2019.

 

Net Neutrality

Brown will decide whether California should create the nation's strongest net neutrality rules, defying the Trump administration.

The bill heading to his desk seeks to regulate internet service providers after a rollback of federal rules. California's new protections would largely mirror the net neutrality rules put in place by the Obama administration, which were repealed in June by the Federal Communications Commission.

The measure bars internet providers from speeding up, slowing down, blocking, prioritizing or exempting from data caps one company’s web content to advantage a competitor’s.

 

Preventing Wildfires And Deciding How To Pay For Them

  • For fires that started in 2017, the California Public Utilities Commission would conduct a “stress test” to determine the maximum amount of damages a utility could sustain without harming ratepayers or going bankrupt. That amount would serve as a “cap” on their fiscal liability.

  • Also for fires started in 2017, costs passed along to ratepayers could be financed — spread out over several years under a process called “securitization” — to reduce the sticker shock on ratepayers’ monthly utility bills.

  • For fires caused by electrical infrastructure from next year forward, the CPUC will decide whether a utility acted reasonably, considering factors that include extreme weather conditions. If so, the CPUC could order that the costs be passed along to ratepayers and securitized.

It also contains several provisions intended to reduce the risk of massive wildfires and improve response and recovery efforts when fires do burn.

 

Release Of Law Enforcement Body Camera Videos And Records

Two measures would require the release of law-enforcement body camera footage and records related to shootings and deadly use-of-force incidents.

One bill, AB 748, would require video and audio from police body cameras and other law-enforcement recordings be released within 45 days of incidents — but only in cases where an officer fires a weapon, or kills or severely injures another person.

Despite those caveats, the measure would set the first definitive statewide disclosure standards for when departments must release body camera footage.

Another measure, SB 1421, would require disclosure of investigative records after a police shooting, use-of-force incident resulting in death or severe harm, or if an officer commits sexual assault, perjury or evidence tampering.

It also allows some delays in the release of the records, based on active lawsuits or investigations.

 

100 Percent Renewable Energy By 2045

California may be required to pursue 100 percent zero-emission energy by mid-century if Brown signs a bill passed this week.

SB 100 raises the amount of renewable energy the state is required to use in 2030, up to 60 percent from the current target of 50 percent. It also tells energy regulators to pursue 100 percent clean energy by 2045, including a mix of renewables, hydroelectric power, and gas plants that capture the carbon.

Brown has previously declined to support the bill, calling the state’s current energy goals “daunting.” It’s not clear if he will sign it.

 

Raising Long Gun Purchase Age From 18 To 21

The measure would increase the minimum age required in California to purchase long guns from 18 to 21, the same age required under federal law for handgun purchases.

The bill now moves to Brown, who has signed some gun control bills in recent years and vetoed others.

 

Bars In Some Cities Could Stay Open Until 4 a.m.

Bars in Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and a few other cities could remain open until 4 a.m. under a bill headed to the governor’s desk.

The bill would allow nine cities to extend drinking hours starting in 2021 and ending after 2025. Lawmakers describe the measure as a “pilot program.”

Cities would have to agree to the extended hours before they would take effect. Bars wanting to extend hours would have to obtain an additional license.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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