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Big Week For Lawmakers To Steam Key Bills Through

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Sacramento, CA — Friday is the deadline for state lawmakers in both chambers to pass or reject a number of hot topic bills they initiated.

Key decisions state senators and assemblymembers face this week include addressing police use of force, rent spikes, and labor laws affecting workers in the “gig economy,” a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs. The opposing chamber will subsequently consider the bills that move forward ahead of the September adjournment.

AB 392 would empower police to use lethal force only if necessary to prevent death or serious harm to themselves or others. Current law allows officers to use it if they reasonably fear they are in danger. After the proposed bill was recently amended, key law enforcement groups now support it. They are also backing SB230, which requires training every officer in ways to avoid using deadly force.

AB1482 would cap the size of rent increases for some tenants, while AB1481 would require landlords to provide a reason for evicting tenants. The Assembly has voted to reduce some of the red tape around building accessory dwelling units, or granny flats and casitas. Despite the state’s acknowledged housing crisis, the biggest housing bill of the session, which would have overridden local zoning rules in some areas to allow for the construction of more homes, appears to not have support to move forward this year but might turn up again next year.

Backed by labor unions, AB5 could expand rights and benefits to workers now labeled independent contractors, such as those working for companies like Uber and Lyft, while upending some other industries. The bill comes in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling and wave of protests that are pressing policy makers to look at the fine print of workers’ rights as the nature of work changes.

Privacy, Health Care, Status Quo Protections

Among other areas of concern and debate are Assembly bills that would create exemptions to the privacy law, such as AB 846 for customer loyalty programs and more broadly for security purposes, such as in AB 1416. As more people use Alexa and Echo devices in their homes, another measure, AB1395, would put limits on how companies can use data collected through smart speakers.

Relating to health care, AB1611 seeks to ban hospitals from charging out-of-network prices to people who have health insurance, which the California Hospital Association opposes, arguing hospitals and health insurance companies should have the freedom to negotiate their own rates. AB731 would require regulation of some large-group insurance plans similar to small-group plans, which supporters say would protect more people from exorbitant premium increases. However, insurers groups say the bill would drive up premiums and encourage employers to move to self-insurance that is not state-regulated.

Democratic lawmakers are working to keep pre-President Donald Trump federal rules in place in order to preserve health, environmental and workplace safety protections eroding under the Trump Administration. SB1, which awaits a Senate vote, would enforce federal standards in place before Trump took office under state law, even if the federal government changes its policies.