At the beginning of each calendar year, the California legislature introduces bills that lawmakers hope will eventually be signed into law by the Governor in September. This year is no different as over 2,200 bills were introduced by the legislature prior to the bill introduction deadline in February. However, COVID-19 will likely have a dramatic impact on the 2020 legislative process.
In this space, we were planning to write about the various bills that the EIA’s Legislative Committee is supporting, opposing, or expressing concerns about this year. Before we even had time to start writing position letters, Governor Newsom began recommending social distancing and within another week, workplaces across the state were closed in an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19, including parts of the Capitol.
What does this mean for the 2020 legislative session? Due to COVID-19 concerns, the legislature is on recess until April 13, 2020. Of course, they could be called back on a moment’s notice, but if they are, it is likely because they are needed to address COVID-19-related legislation. There is also a significant possibility that the “sheltering” orders will be extended past April 13th which would further delay the typical legislative review process. Standing legislative rules state that the Appropriations Committees in each house must send all bills with a fiscal impact to the floor of their house for a vote by May 15, 2020, so a more compressed timeframe will make it difficult for the Appropriations Committees to act on all of the bills.
Due to the high number of bills this session and the limited amount of time that committees will have to review bills, it seems more and more likely that many of the bills that were introduced this year will end up being dropped and, perhaps, brought back next year. The speculation is that when it returns the legislature will focus on a fewer number of bills that are deemed critical including bills that are related to COVID-19, homelessness, and wildfire prevention.
Although the legislative session has ground to a halt, the EIA’s Legislative Committee was able to meet on March 12, 2020 and come up with positions on over 125 bills. Per its normal practice, the Committee has posted its positions on bills on our website. EIA staff and our lobbyists are in the process of preparing our position letters, but will not be sending any to the legislature until the legislature is back in session. By then we should have a better idea as to whether many of the bills will actually be moving forward this year.
Should you have any questions about any of the bills, the EIA’s actions related thereto, or be interested in joining the EIA’s Legislative Committee, please contact the EIA’s Chief Legal Counsel, Mike Pott or the EIA’s Director of Worker’s Compensation, Jen Hamelin.