Bills have now been reviewed by policy committees in their house of origin. Next comes the fiscal deadline where bills that contain significant costs to the state are reviewed by the Appropriations committees in their respective houses. The Appropriations committees use a process called the Suspense File to group all bills with costs to the state above a threshold to be heard in one hearing. Decisions as to which measures are released from the suspense file are made by legislative leadership. Those bills that are held on the suspense file will not advance to the floor. In order for fiscal and non-fiscal bills to move forward, they must pass from their house of origin by May 31st. Bills that have not passed off the floor by the deadline will not advance this year.
It is important to note that bills that do not pass either a committee or the floor before their deadlines are considered stalled for the year. However, we are in the first year of a two-year session thus first house bills can be taken up again for action in January of the following year. It is important to remember that issues that have stalled this year, may return next year making vigilance on legislative issues important.
Key bill updates:
AB 138 (Bloom) – Sugar Sweetened Beverage Taxes – Held in Committee
Mr. Bloom’s bill would have levied additional taxes on sugar sweetened beverages. This bill was part of an all-out assault in 2019 on sugar sweetened beverages. As a result of CDA’s lobbying efforts in conjunction with the efforts of other affected industries this bill has stalled for this year. This bill was at least the third attempt in recent years to try tax or adding fees to sugar sweetened beverages, so we can expect to see this issue again in future years.
AB 766 (Chiu) – Unsealed Beverage Capacity Cap – Held in Committee
Mr. Chiu’s bill would ban any unsealed soda cup containing more than 16 ounces of liquid. Commonly called “the Big Gulp ban,” this bill would ban the sales of key products in convenience stores across the state. Due to intense lobbying pressure this bill did not pass its policy committee by the necessary deadline, therefore it is being held this year, but will most likely return in 2020.
SB 38 (Hill) – Flavored Tobacco Ban – Awaiting hearing in Appropriations Committee
Senator Hill’s bill would ban the sale of any flavored tobacco products. This bill was introduced in response to concerns that vape products are being marketed to underage smokers. As drafted, this bill would not only apply to vape products, it would also ban products that have been legal for decades, including menthol flavored tobacco products. Currently SB 38 is on “suspense” in the Senate Appropriations committee. The bill is being heavily lobbied. Its fate in the current committee will be known by May 17th.