Successful Legislative Year
Earlier this summer, I highlighted what we accomplished in this year’s historic state budget that I helped craft as chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. Now that the year’s legislative session is over, I’m happy to report that all of my bills, save one, were signed into law.
My two most significant pieces of legislation this year target Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), which have been linked to cancer, liver damage, and thyroid disease. Used to coat food packaging and cookware, PFAS are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” because they take years to break down. Assembly Bill 1200 bans the use of food packaging by 2023. Additionally, under this bill, California will become the first state to require cookware manufacturers to disclose what chemicals are included in their products.
AB-1201 further cracks down on PFAS by prohibiting anything containing them from being labeled “compostable.” PFAS-contaminated compost can end up mixed in with agricultural soil, allowing the chemicals to get into our food supply. While AB-1200 limits our foods’ exposure to these toxins from packaging and cookware, AB-1201 prevents them from being absorbed from the soil.
Another notable achievement is AB-33, which builds on my record of fighting climate change. It expands an existing state low-interest loan program so Native American tribes and public entities, like schools and hospitals, can install clean energy storage systems and electric vehicle charging. As climate change exacerbates wildfires, we must be ready for Public Safety Power Shutoffs; these energy storage systems allow for a power supply without the need for fossil fuel-burning generators.
I also made progress toward making our criminal justice system fairer. AB-1452 authorizes the San Francisco Superior Court to implement a pilot program testing whether increasing the pay of low-income jurors from $15 to $100 per day would diversify juries. Workers often ask to be excused because they cannot afford to miss a day’s pay. But that can lead to a jury that doesn’t reflect the community. Studies show when juries have more racial and income diversity, they spend more time in deliberation and are less likely to presume guilt.
Unfortunately, AB-1238, The Freedom to Walk Act, was vetoed. The bill would have prohibited assessing fines for jaywalking if there is no immediate danger. It shouldn’t be a crime to cross the street when it’s safe. I will continue to work on ways to address not only the arbitrary enforcement of our jaywalking laws but also the costly tickets that financially burden working families – both of which disproportionately impact communities of color.
Lastly, I secured a waiver for Seton Medical Center in Daly City, granting them up to one additional year to comply with seismic retrofit requirements. AB-1527, along with my previous efforts to keep this facility open during the pandemic, will allow our local healthcare systems to continue serving their communities.
I’m already putting together next year’s agenda. My goal is to continue moving California forward, investing in the right priorities, and making sure our economic recovery is inclusive of all. Feel free to contact my office at a19.asmdc.org, or (415) 557-2312 with your legislative ideas or if you need assistance with a state agency.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City. Find an archive of his columns online at RichmondSunsetNews.com.