Legislative Update – December 15, 2022
By Brian White, KP Public Affairs
On December 5, the California Legislature convened its organizational session to begin the regular session of the 2023-24 legislative session, including swearing in several new legislators and electing the legislative leaders of each house. The most significant change will come in the Assembly leadership where the Democrat Caucus selected a new Assembly Speaker-Designee with the election of Assembly Member Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) who will replace current Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Los Angeles), who terms out in 2024. The changeover is expected to take place on June 30, 2023, after adoption of the state’s budget. With the change, there will be some changes with committee chairs which could come early in the session or after Speaker-designee Rivas officially assumes the lead role. There are two key vacant chairs in the Senate and Assembly Budget Subcommittees overseeing resources and the environment. These chairs are important in making decisions on resource funding, including for forestry management and wildfires.
Overall, there will be about 35 new legislators who were elected to the Legislature. Most of them filled seats held by legislators who were either termed, retired early or boundaries changed due to redistricting. Democrats will continue to hold more than 2/3 of the seats in both houses with at least 61 seats out of 80 in the Assembly, and at least 30 seats out 40 in the Senate. With several new faces in the Legislature, we have prepared bios of all the new legislators. Democrats will also continue to control all facets of state government, including the Governor’s and the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, and other statewide constitutional officers.
Although legislators were allowed to begin introducing new bills this week, they won’t be back in Sacramento for regular business until January 4, 2023. So far, at least 150 new bills have already been introduced and legislators will have until February 17 to submit their ideas for introduction. Typically, there are about 2,000 bills introduced each session and that will likely be the case again. By all accounts, the Legislature will focus on homelessness, climate change, potential $25 billion state budget deficit, and gas prices as its top issues. Like other years, it’s highly likely wildfire issues will continue to get significant attention with the ongoing drought despite the recent rain the state is experiencing. When the Legislature comes back in January, the Governor will also be releasing his proposed 2023-24 state budget on January 10, which will begin the start of the budget process.
Last week, the Legislature started a Special Session at the request of Governor Newsom to begin discussions on whether to impose a so-called windfall profits “penalty” on oil refiners. It’s not clear if the Legislature will pass a Special Session bill on this issue, but legislation (SB 2x - Skinner) has already been introduced to begin the debate. The challenge will come when several new legislators will be asked to vote on a controversial bill.
Appellate Decision on WFMP Case
Good News -- Exemptions and NTMPs
CAL FIRE has reversed its policy change regarding the acceptance of exemptions for NTMPs. Please refer to the link below to view the letter from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Ken Pimlott) to the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (Keith Gilless).
Should you have any questions, please send an email to the FLC Legislative Committee at email@example.com.
Letter and Supporting Content from CAL FIRE to Board of Forestry
Legislative Committee Assignments
Public Policy Institute of California
The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) issued a report in mid-September on the status of forest health in the Headwaters Forests. On September 20, there was a panel debriefing on the report. Click on the links below to download the documents.
If you are interested in wathcing the panel debrief, the video is posted on the PPIC's website: