California Government Relations Update

December 15, 2023

California State Assembly Announces New Committee Chairs

In a recent announcement, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) unveiled his roster of committee chairs for the 2024 legislative session. These appointments signify a significant shift in the Assembly’s power dynamics, with several new faces assuming leadership positions.

Notable Changes in Committee Leadership

The most eye-catching change to the Assembly leadership was the announcement of Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Napa) being appointed to replace Assemblymember Isaac Bryan (D-Culver City) as majority leader. Bryan was in the role which serves as the speaker’s key ally for four months. Bryan will now serve as chair of Assembly Natural Resources Committee.

One of the most prominent changes is the appointment of Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) as Chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee. This committee holds the reins over the state’s budget, making Wicks a key player in shaping California’s financial trajectory. She replaces Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) who is running for a Los Angeles Board of Supervisor seat.

Another notable appointment is Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) as Chair of the Budget Committee. Similar to Wicks, Gabriel will wield significant influence over the state’s purse strings, overseeing the allocation of funds to various programs and initiatives.

Other Key Appointments

Alongside Wicks and Gabriel, several other Assemblymembers have been tasked with leading crucial committees, including:

  1. Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) will chair the influential Judiciary Committee, overseeing matters related to the state’s legal system.
  2. Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) takes the helm of the Governmental Organization Committee, tasked with scrutinizing a wide-range of issues relating to alcohol, Indian gaming, gambling, horse racing, tobacco, the state lottery, and other issues.
  3. Assemblymember Cottie Petrie Norris (D-Irvine) will have her plate full overseeing both the Utilities & Energy Committee and Accountability and Administrative Review Committee.
  4. Assemblymember Alex Lee (D-San Jose) assumes chairmanship of the Human Services Committee, responsible for overseeing programs that support California’s most vulnerable residents.
  5. Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) will lead the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, safeguarding Californians’ personal data and ensuring fair business practices.
  6. Assemblymember Diane Papan (D-San Mateo) takes charge of the Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee, managing the state’s precious natural resources.
  7. Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Alameda) steps up as Chair of the Health Committee, addressing critical issues like healthcare access and public health initiatives. She is also the wife of California State Attorney General Rob Bonta.
  8. Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), who is also running for Sacramento mayor, will become the chairman of the Public Safety Committee overseeing law crime prevention and control, victim’s rights, public health and safety, and emergency preparedness and response.

Implications of These Appointments

The selection of these committee chairs signals a focus on progressive priorities within the Assembly. With leaders like Wicks, Gabriel, Kalra, and Bonta, the Assembly is poised to continue to prioritize issues such as healthcare, education, environmental protection, and worker rights.

Overall, the announcement of committee chairmanships marks a new chapter in the state’s legislative landscape. With a focus on progressive priorities and a diverse leadership team, the Assembly is fit to tackle the challenges facing California in the years to come.

Don’t forget the Senate

With both houses recently announcing leadership changes, the attention now turns to the Senate ProTem designee Mike McGuire (D-Santa Rosa) to reveal his leadership team after he is officially sworn in as the new Senate Pro Tem, replacing the current Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). The transition in the Senate is anticipated to occur sometime in January 2024. 

High-Profile Bills to take Effect in 2024

Unlike the perpetual water issues in California, there is no shortage of legislation that is passed and enacted year in and year out. For example, there were 1,046 bills that reached Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk this year. Of those, the Governor signed 890 bills and vetoed 156 bills, which was a 14.9% veto rate. For comparison, last year (2022 Session), 1,166 bills reached Governor Newsom’s Desk, he signed 997, and vetoed 169 of them for a 14.5% veto rate.

Here are some of the high-profile bills passed in California that take effect in January 2024:

  1. Senate Bill 253 (Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act): This bill requires public and private companies doing business in California with more than $1 billion in revenue to publicly report their Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Reporting will be phased in, with Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions reporting required starting in 2026 and Scope 3 emissions reporting required starting in 2027.
  2. Senate Bill 261 (Climate-Related Financial Risk Act): This bill requires companies doing business in California with annual revenue exceeding $500 million to report on their climate-related financial risks. This includes an assessment of the company’s potential financial risks from climate change, such as physical risks from extreme weather events and transition risks from changes in policy and technology.
  3. Senate Bill 525 (Minimum Wage Increase for Health Care Workers): Raises the minimum wage for nearly all health care workers to $25 per hour by 2028. Effective January 1, 2024.
  4. Senate Bill 616 (Paid Sick Leave): Expands paid sick leave entitlements for California employees to 40 hours or five days (whichever is greater) per year effective January 1, 2024.
  5. Senate Bill 770 (Single-Payer Health Care): This bill directs the Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency to research, develop, and pursue waiver discussions with the federal government with the objective of a unified health care financing system that incorporates specific features, including a comprehensive package of medical, behavioral health, pharmaceutical, dental, and vision benefits, without cost sharing for essential services and treatments.
  6. Assembly Bill 647 (Grocery Employee Protections Upon Change In Control): Requires grocery store chains with more than 100 employees to provide notice and a severance package to employees if the store is sold or closed.
  7. Assembly Bill 1076 (Noncompete Agreements): Prohibits employers from entering or enforcing noncompete agreements with employees, regardless of the employee’s position or salary.

These are just a few of the many bills that were passed in California that take effect in January 2024. For a more comprehensive list, please visit the California Legislative Information System website available here.