The Crush - May 2020 - 4
[ FEDERAL FOCUS ]
COVID-19 * STATE
Legislature Returns From a COVID-19 Recess
HISTORIC, TRANSFORMATIVE CHANGES AT THE STATE CAPITOL
By Michael Miiller
The California Assembly returned to business on May 4 and the
Senate did so on May 11. But a new and different reality now
governs how the Legislature will operate. The changes in how
the Legislature will conduct its business are historic.
In the next four weeks, the Legislature will consider and adopt a
state budget for 2020-2021 that will be unlike any budget before.
In the last two months, California has moved from a $21 billion
surplus to a $54 billion deficit. This is unprecedented.
In January, California's total budget was projected to be around
$222 billion. Consequently, this deficit is nearly 25 percent. This
will have an impact on all aspects of public services - schools,
public safety, regulatory agencies and much more.
Normally, at this point in the budget process, there will have
been dozens of budget subcommittee hearings. But during this
stay-at-home period, understandably there have been minimal
budget hearings in review of a monumental state budget.
PUBLIC HEARINGS OF COMMITTEES
The state Capitol is under a whole new set of strict rules,
including: screening everyone as they walk into the Capitol, no
more than one person per elevator, legislative offices are closed,
those entering the Capitol must be escorted by a public safety
officer, social distancing, face coverings and much more.
Many lawmakers are in an at-risk category due to advanced
age, family situations or health issues. Those lawmakers are
not returning to the Capitol. Twenty assemblymembers sent a
letter to the Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, in part asking
that hearings be conducted remotely. The American Civil
Liberties Union objected and the speaker is requiring every
assemblymember to cast their vote in person.
However, the Senate believes remote hearings are allowed under
the law and is pursuing a plan of remote public participation that
also allows Senators to participate remotely.
CAWG's engaged advocacy continues. But how we advocate
during this pandemic is very different from past efforts. These
days, advocacy is accomplished through phone calls, Zoom
meetings, email and text. Because lawmakers are not dealing
with back-to-back-to-back in-person meetings (because offices
are closed), they are very responsive to the more immediate
4 / MAY 2020
methods of connecting with their
communities, stakeholders and
ESSENTIAL LEGISLATION IN
While the Senate and Assembly
have differing approaches to
conducting public hearings in
2020, they also have differing
approaches to considering
legislation for the remainder
of the year. The Senate would like to move only legislation that
is in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the
Assembly appears ready to hear a wider range of legislation.
While each committee is attempting to conduct only one hearing
in the next few weeks, these committees cover a wide range of
public policy issues, many of which are not related to COVID-19.
The Legislature works under strict deadlines whereby legislation
must move expeditiously through the various steps of the
legislative process. In light of the pandemic, the Legislature
took a break and shut down the Capitol. During that break, the
Capitol building went through a deep clean, and procedures
were adopted to keep people safe. This is because thousands of
people come in and out of the Capitol on a daily basis in normal
This break also meant that virtually every bill is dead because
the Legislature returned after the deadline whereby bills must
be heard by a committee. Consequently, the Legislature adjusted
the deadlines. For example, the Assembly revised the following
* Pushed back the house of origin deadline from May 29 to June
19 (this is the date whereby Assembly bills must be approved
by the Assembly, and Senate bills must be approved by the
* Moved the four-week summer recess from July 3 to June 19.
This means that the Legislature is basically working through the
budget process and the new house of origin deadline and then
taking an early summer recess. When they come back after that
recess, they will have seven weeks to wrap things up.
These are unprecedented times and how the Legislature deals
with this is transformative.
The Crush - May 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush - May 2020
The Crush - May 2020 - 1
The Crush - May 2020 - 2
The Crush - May 2020 - 3
The Crush - May 2020 - 4
The Crush - May 2020 - 5
The Crush - May 2020 - 6
The Crush - May 2020 - 7
The Crush - May 2020 - 8
The Crush - May 2020 - 9
The Crush - May 2020 - 10
The Crush - May 2020 - 11
The Crush - May 2020 - 12