2021 Bills Authored by Senator Ben Allen

SCA 2 – Housing Equity Through Constitutional Modernization

Since 1950, Article 34 of the California Constitution has required majority approval by the voters of a city or county for the development, construction, or acquisition of a publicly funded “low-rent housing project.” The result: regional inequities and NIMBYism that undermine the ability of local leaders to be agile in addressing California’s acute housing and homelessness challenges. Supported by a broad coalition of housing advocates, Senator Allen proposes Senate Constitutional Amendment 2, a statewide ballot measure asking voters to repeal Article 34.

SCA 3 – Clarifying the Recall Process

Recall elections typically yield much lower voter turnout, meaning a small fraction of eligible voters decide who will represent them. SCA 3 proposes to amend the California Constitution to eliminate the yes/no portion of the recall question, and simply place the elected official being recalled on the ballot alongside all candidates seeking to replace him or her in a statewide election.

SB 44 – Expedited California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Review for Green Transit Projects

An expired California statute established a process permitting certain large-scale construction project proponents to apply for “environmental leadership development project” certification. SB 44 would help make environmentally beneficial, zero-emission mass transit projects eligible for potential expedited California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review.

SB 54 – Plastics Pollution Producer Responsibility Act

SB 54 would have required producers to only use packaging material that can achieve a recycling rate of 75%, and created incentives for them to help stop plastic pollution at the source. Unfortunately, while the Senate passed the policy, the bill fell short of passage on the final night of the legislative session in the State Assembly. The policy work laid the groundwork for future efforts to address the plastics crisis, including a potential ballot measure that has already acquired the requisite signatures to appear on the 2022 ballot.

SB 66 – Smart Planning for the Future of Transportation

California has no strategic policy for widespread deployment of AVs. In order for the state to facilitate a thoughtful rollout of AVs as they become more commonplace, oversight will be critical.  SB 66 proposes creating an Autonomous Vehicle Task Force that will oversee coordination of cohesive policies and proactively ensure this new technology furthers California’s public safety, economic equity, and environmental goals. 

SB 83 – Innovative Financing for Communities Threatened by Sea-Level Rise

SB 83 provides local governments with an innovative financing option to alleviate the risks of rising sea levels while protecting both property owners and taxpayers through state-backed low interest mortgages that would buy properties that will be threatened in a decade or two, allowing the owners to sell while the house still has value. The local government can then rent out the property, repaying the loan, and potentially even earning revenue. Then, when the property is at risk of flooding from rising sea levels, the house can be demolished without local residents or the taxpayers bearing the cost.

SB 235 – Safely Regulating Hemp-Derived CBD Products

Current California law generally prevents cannabis licensees from growing, manufacturing, and selling hemp or hemp-derived products. SB 235, and its companion measure Assembly Bill 45 by Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry (D – Winters), would regulate hemp under a legal framework similar to marijuana, and explicitly permit hemp-derived CBD to be added to food, beverages and dietary supplements.

SB 343 – Truth in Labeling for Recyclable Materials

SB 343 expands the existing “Truth in Environmental Advertising” law that prohibits the use of the word “recyclable” on unrecyclable products to include the use of the chasing-arrows symbol or any other suggestion that a material is recyclable, unless the material meets certain criteria developed by CalRecycle to ensure the material is routinely sold to manufacturers to make new products.

SB 433 – Protecting California’s Coast

SB 433 builds on the California Coastal Commission’s existing, proven process for handling access violations, providing it with the clear authority to issue administrative penalties for other types of violations such as unpermitted damage to wetlands, natural habitat, or coastal waters. All fines in the Coastal Conservancy’s Violation Remediation Account will be used to support projects that restore and preserve coastal resources.

SB 459 – Increasing Lobbying Transparency

In the final hours of the legislative session, a flurry of last-minute spending and political advertising can litter social media with little clarity about the funding source. High-pressure lobbying tactics, like issue advertisements targeted at elected officials’ constituents, can be engaged in entirely anonymously SB 459 expedites the lobbying reporting period from quarterly to monthly for the highest-spending lobbying firms and interest groups, so that the public, press, and legislators have a more simultaneous sense – when it matters – of the behind-the-scenes spending to influence high-stakes legislation.

SB 483 – Full Repeal of Ineffective Sentencing Enhancements (RISE)

Criminal sentencing has often been applied inequitably and people have color have overwhelmingly paid the price. Long sentences have no demonstrable positive effect on public safety, but are injurious to individuals, communities, families and children. SB 483 would improve fairness in the legal system by retroactively applying the elimination of automatic three-year and one-year criminal sentence enhancements recently repealed by the State Legislature.

SB 502 – Improving Protection from Toxic Chemicals

SB 502 will help provide consumers with the information they deserve about potentially toxic chemicals in household products. This bill will improve accountability and transparency by giving the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) more authority to obtain product ingredient data from manufacturers and chemical suppliers, and require DTSC to adopt a seven-year timeline to identify and assess products.

SB 563 – Strengthening a Tool to Build Affordable Housing

In 2018, Senator Allen authored SB 961 to provide cities and counties with tools to incentivize developing housing in transit oriented communities. SB 563 builds upon SB 961 by allowing overlapping jurisdictions to agree to help finance housing projects near transit. This follow-up bill also implements certain recommendations from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to make the projects more viable, and implements even stronger tenant protections, preventing displacement.

SB 590 – Aligning Municipal and Statewide Election Schedules

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed vital Census data needed for the Citizens Redistricting Commission to redraw the boundaries of our representative’s districts. As a result, the 2022 primary election was postponed to allow the Commission additional time to redraw jurisdictions so voters can select representatives that reflect their new districts.  SB 590 would prevent the subsequent prolonged vacancies of some local offices by extending the terms for officials that are set to expire in March or April 2022 to align with the postponed June 2022 statewide primary election.

SB 628 – Creative Workforce Development Act of 2021

SB 628 will establish the California Creative Corps which will ensure employment opportunities and the continuity of our creative community. This program would provide employment and job training for artists and creative sector workers through public programs and focus on uplifting disadvantaged communities that may not otherwise have an opportunity to pursue a career in the arts.

SB 664 – Reforming Hospice Care

The  Los Angeles Times published an expose late last year examining how an “exponential boom” in hospice care providers, especially throughout LA County, has “spawned a cottage industry of illegal practices, including kickbacks to crooked doctors and recruiters who zero in on prospective patients at retirement homes and other venues”. Senator Allen introduced SB 664 to address concerns about whether this industry’s rapid growth is in the best interest of patients.

SB 724 – Strengthening the Rights and Protections of California’s Conservatees

SB 724 would advance due process rights of conservatees and proposed conservatees by providing them with the guarantee of legal counsel, the clear right choose an attorney of their preference, and require conservatee attorneys to be a zealous advocate on their client’s behalf. Collectively, these provisions robustly expand the duties of court investigators; give courts greater latitude to review existing conservatorships; establish regular reviews of limited conservatorships for adults with developmental disabilities; require—with few exceptions—the in person attendance of proposed conservatee at hearings; and provide for better documentation and oversight of a conservatee’s assets.

SB 752 – The Disclosure Clarity Act

For voters to make an informed choice in the political marketplace, political advertisements should not intentionally deceive voters about who or what interest is trying to persuade them how to vote.  SB 752 ensures that political advertisers cannot obscure the person of interest groups that are paying for an ad a voter may see.

SJR 1 – Student Loan Debt Relief

SJR 1 calls on the President and Congress to forgive $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower. In California alone, over 3 million people owe nearly $147 billion in student loans. It has a negative impact on individuals and the economy, and clearly needs to be addressed. With the ongoing national debate, this SJR will encourage a more substantive federal action to address student loan debt.