What bills are Long Beach’s state legislators working on?
With nearly two months of the 2023-24 state legislative session under their belts, Long Beach’s representatives have drafted a slew of bills to address opioid addiction, gun regulations, air pollution from oil refineries and more.
Friday, Feb. 17, was the deadline to introduce new bills for this session. Some bills are placeholders on topics legislators are still researching, and others may get rewritten in an effort to win support as they pass through committees. Here’s a sampling of the issues the city’s delegation is working on.
Senator Lena Gonzalez
Gonzalez, who won a special election in 2019 and was elected to a full term the following year, represents the 33rd District, which stretches from Long Beach north to the city of Vernon.
Some of her bills this session focus on environmental protection, extending paid sick leave and giving more people access to electric vehicles, she said in an email.
“This legislation will greatly benefit working families and underserved communities all across California who have been struggling the most from the impacts of climate change, and a post-pandemic economy,” Gonzalez said. “I believe it is extremely important to prioritize equity in our legislative work so that those who need help the most are getting the support they need.”
SB 57: Details of this bill are still being hammered out, but the basic idea is to stop utility providers from shutting off service during major storms and other extreme weather events.
Electric utilities—whose lines or equipment have been blamed for some of the state’s most devastating wildfires—have at times opted to shut down service when dry weather and high winds increased fire risk. But critics point out that the loss of power is not just an inconvenience for people and businesses; some customers need electricity to charge electric wheelchairs, keep medicine refrigerated or run life-saving medical devices.
SB 674: Petroleum refineries are already required in some cases to install air monitoring equipment to measure any pollutants they generate and make sure they don’t exceed legal limits.
The bill would expand the types of refinery facilities that must monitor emissions and create a statewide standard, require the facilities to collect and report monitoring data and conduct independent audits to ensure the data is accurate.
SB 616: California employers are currently required to provide most employees with at least three paid sick days per year. The bill would increase that minimum to seven days.
A federal bill passed early in the pandemic provided emergency sick leave to most workers who had COVID-19 symptoms, were recommended to quarantine or were caring for someone infected with the coronavirus.
A fact sheet on Gonzalez’s bill said that emergency leave was “one of the most effective tools in curbing the spread of COVID-19” and that paid leave is especially important for lower-income workers “who can least afford to miss work and jeopardize their ability to make ends meet.”