Environmental Bills Introduced

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Jan. 28, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Over 2,000 proposed bills were submitted to the Legislative Counsel prior to the January 20th deadline for this year 's session. While we are awaiting the onslaught of these introductions, the following three environmental bills have come across the desk:

Senator Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) introduced SB 109, Prosecution of Stationary Source Minor Violations. This bill is very similar to SB 1211 which Ortiz introduced in 2004 and became the number two bill on CMTA's top 25 environmental bills. Like SB 1211, SB 109 would again allow for criminal prosecution on top of civil prosecution for the same violation. There would be little incentive to settle civil suits and the number of cases going to court would increase substantially.

Senator Christine Kehoe (D-Los Angeles) introduced SB 44, General Plans; Air Quality Element. This bill would require cities and counties adopting a long-term general development plan to include data and analysis, comprehensive goals, policies and feasible implementation strategies to improve air quality in that plan and for the amendment of existing plans no later than one year from the date specified for its next revision of its housing element. While the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District has already implemented such a requirement, a mandate for all districts is unwise as many districts have severe funding limitations and have less severe pollution problems.

Assemblymember Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) has again introduced a bill concerning lead in candy, AB 121. This year's version, however, does not contain many of the problems with previous legislation he proposed on the subject. Private watchdog groups, for example, are not funded in the bill and an extremely low maximum lead level is not stated. The funding for the monitoring program would, however, still come from a "Sinclair tax"* levied on petroleum and paint manufacturers.
*Proposition 13 requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature for increases in state taxes. In the Sinclair Paint decision, the State Supreme Court said, with very broad language, that an exaction imposed to mitigate past, present or future harm caused by an activity should be considered a "regulatory fee." This has resulted in countless pieces of legislation that link these new "fees" to programs merely by alleging some remote linkage to harm caused by a given industry, product, or activity. This fee (a Sinclair tax) can be passed by only a majority vote, rather than the 2/3rds required for a tax.
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