This week, the Legislature returns from its summer recess and begins the sprint to adjournment at the end of the month. For the bills that have survived multiple committee hearings, floor votes and amendments, this is the end of the line.
That makes August a very interesting month in Sacramento. A number of good bills are pending in the Senate, and I look forward to working with the authors to help get these worthy laws enacted. Here are several great proposals that will hopefully soon become law.
AB 1561: Repeal the tampon tax! This bill by Assemblymember Christina Garcia has gotten a lot of attention this past year -- and rightly so. We don't tax medicine. We don't tax food. We don't even tax candy. So why do we make every woman pay sales tax on a product she will need every month for decades of her life? It's not just unfair -- it's unjust. #Notaxontampons.
AB 1559: Disaster Relief for Businesses. Last year, after the horrific Valley Fire and other wildfires up and down the state affected thousands of businesses, I partnered with Assemblymember Bill Dodd to introduce this legislation to allow people whose businesses have been affected by a natural disaster to delay paying their taxes. This is just common sense. If your business has burned down alongside the rest of your community, the last thing any of us should worry about it whether we get your quarterly sales tax on time.
AB 2678: Fair Funding. With summer in full swing, families across the state are taking the kids to the fair. It's a timeless tradition for nearly every community in America. But like so many places these days, local fairgrounds are struggling. Assemblymember Adam Gray has introduced this bill to dedicate a very modest revenue stream to these important local institutions. Fairgrounds serve such an important function, well beyond the few weeks each summer we typically think of. In emergencies or natural disasters they are routinely used as emergency shelters and first responder dispatch sites. Day to day, they can be used as anything from community centers to concert halls to commencement stages. Fairgrounds are essential to our communities, we need to keep them funded. (Besides, where else can we find deep fried twinkies?)
AB 2888: Response to Stanford Rape Case. Assemblymember Evan Low, Assemblymember Bill Dodd and Senator Jerry Hill introduced this bill that simply states no person can be merely sentenced to probation if they are convicted of sexual assault. The bill stems from the overly-lenient sentence handed down to a member of the Stanford University swim team who was convicted of attempting to assault an unconscious young woman, whose case sparked national attention after the young woman's letter to the defendant was posted on Buzzfeed.
AB 797: Right to Rescue. Assemblymember Mark Steinorth and Assembly Majority Whip Miguel Santiago have jointly introduced this bill which would protect passers-by from liability if they break into a hot car to rescue an animal. Another bill that should have been in law a long time ago. Don't leave your pets in the car. Ever. And if you do, don't be surprised when a Good Samaritan breaks your window.
AB 717: Exempting Diapers from Sales Tax. Another easy call, this bill by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez exempts diapers from sales tax. Any new parent can tell you how expensive diapers are, and this is another clear cut example of why we shouldn't be taxing a basic necessities of life.
In fact, I believe that AB 717 and 1561 make a strong case for creating a fourth general exemption from sales tax in state law: basic necessities of life. Things like diapers and tampons are indispensable to our health, even if they aren't directly related to medical treatment or sustenance of life.
Finally, there are a trio of bills related to our continuing efforts to better regulate and integrate the medicinal cannabis industry in California.
AB 2149 by Assemblymember Susan Bonilla authorizes SBOE and counties to accept cash payments from medicinal cannabis related businesses -- a very important rule change, given the federal blackout on banking services forces medicinal cannabis businesses to operate on a strictly-cash basis.
AB 821, also by Assemblymember Gipson, removes the fee imposed on cash transactions at SBOE. This is a simple change, but one that removes an unfair penalty on legal businesses that can't get banking services.
Each of these bills are pending in the State Senate, and I hope our senators approve them. These are all common sense bills, and some of them -- like repealing the tampon tax and strengthening punishment for sexual assault perpetrators -- should have been passed years ago.
Either way, this small sample shows that the temperature isn't the only thing that makes August the hottest month in Sacramento.