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 require producers to only use packaging material that can achieve a recycling rate of 75%, and creates incentives for them to help stop plastic pollution at the source.
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 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 in late 2020 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.
2020 Bills Authored by Senator Ben Allen
SB 45 – Climate Resiliency Bond
This climate resiliency bond measure would have asked California voters to approve an investment of $5.5 billion to fund green jobs that prepare us for extreme weather and other climate-related events. Wildfires, floods, mudslides and droughts will continue to ravage the state. SB 45 did not make it through the legislative process this year due to COVID-19.
SB 158 – Allowing No Party Preference Voters to Serve on Redistricting Commissions
The legislature established Citizens Redistricting Commissions – including one in Los Angeles County with 14 commissioners who reflect the political party preferences of the voting population. However, 26% of registered voters in our county are No Party Preference (NPP) voters who would be precluded from serving on the redistricting commission. This law will allow NPP voters to also serve on the Citizens Redistricting Commissions. More and more Californians choose not to affiliate with either party—and their voices matter too.
SB 1044 – Protecting Firefighter’s Health and Safety
SB 1044 protects both firefighters and the drinking water supply from toxic chemicals known as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These "forever chemicals" are linked to numerous health problems including cancer, hormone disruption, harm to developing infants and children, impaired immunity and interference with vaccine effectiveness. This new law phases out the sale and use of certain firefighting foam that contains PFAS and requires manufacturers of PFAS-containing firefighting gear to provide written notice to purchasers that the gear contains PFAS. Effective and affordable alternatives exist and are in use in other jurisdictions.
SB 1256 – Safety in Children’s Toys
Whether constructed in children’s toys, or sold as separate individual magnets, rare earth magnets have been manufactured and distributed across the country for years. Their small size and relatively low magnetic strength, or flux, may appear to be harmless, however these magnets pose a serious hidden health risk. Due to their small size, rare earth magnets can be easily, and often accidentally, ingested. When two or more of these high-powered magnets are ingested, the magnetic flux allows the magnets to find each other across or between different segments of the digestive system. A collision of two or more rare earth magnets within a child’s digestive system can lead to serious injury or death. This bill would have prohibited any person or entity from manufacturing, selling, or distributing a rare earth magnet in California, protecting California residents and setting a higher bar for safety standards across the US.
SB 1324 – Supporting Military Families
Senate Bill 1324 would have required that data on licensure application submitted by active military, military spouses, and veterans be collected to determine the efficacy of California’s licensure considerations for the military – aiding the legislature in gauging the need for further licensure legislation intended to aid the military community in accessing professional licensing in a timely and efficient manner.
SB 1380 – Protecting the Santa Monica Mountains
Created in 1980, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is a state agency that has helped preserve over 75,000 acres of land in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The Conservancy frequently encounters encroachments related to its proximity to the Los Angeles Metropolitan area. This law enables the Conservancy to purchase small parcels of land using its own authority and more efficiently fulfill its mission to protect public lands and provide recreational opportunities for Californians. This will make it easier for the Conservancy to do its vitally important job of preserving and protecting more open space for future generations. SB 1380 was the latest of a string of closely cooperative legislative and policy efforts between the Conservancy and Senator Allen’s office.
SB 1389 – Public Investment Authorities
This bill would have revised the Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD) law to create a new partnership among community governments and the state to capture growth in local or regional economies for need investment in housing, infrastructure, and economic development. These powers would have provided financial resources to address the broad range of problems that confront state and community governments.
AB 326 (Muratsuchi) – Electric Vehicle Subscriptions
AB 326 by Assemblymember Muratsuchi and coauthored by Senator Allen would have created a new legal framework for Electric Vehicle Memberships. Through these memberships, young adults would have been able to access EVs on a month-to-month basis just as easily as they access movies on streaming platform. Ensuring walkable cities and high-quality public transportation remains a particularly high priority among Millennials, though access to EV memberships could benefit everyone.
2019 Bills Authored by Senator Ben Allen
SB 3 – Higher Education Coordinating Office
The 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education provided a plan for the California Community Colleges (CCCs), California State University (CSU), the University of California (UC) and other California institutions of higher education, to meet the needs of the State during the next 10 years and thereafter. The California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC), the body created for this last purpose, was tasked with providing fiscal and policy advice to the Governor and the Legislature regarding postsecondary education issues. In the January 2012 report, Improving Higher Education Oversight, the LAO warned that in the wake of CPEC’s closure, the future of higher education oversight was unclear.
SB 3 would have established the Office of Higher Education Coordination, Accountability and Performance, to serve as the statewide postsecondary coordination and planning agency to steward the state’s higher education agenda. The office would have provided independent policy recommendations to the Legislature and Governor and provide a vision to ensure academic and workforce success for current and future California students.
SB 43 – Revenue Neutral Carbon Pricing
SB 43 would have required the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the State’s Department of Tax and Fee Administration to investigate and make recommendations for how California can replace the current Sales and Use tax with a revenue neutral tax based on carbon intensity, encouraging manufacturers and consumers to consider the climate impacts of products and reward those companies helping to meet the state’s emissions goals.
SB 47 – Petition DISCLOSE Act
SB 47 helps voters make informed decisions by requiring initiative signature gatherers to disclose the top three funders of the committee organizing the campaign to voters before they sign to qualify the initiative for the ballot.
SB 139 – County Independent Redistricting Commissions
SB 139 requires counties with more than 400,000 residents to establish an independent redistricting commission, ensuring a more fair, nonpartisan system for drawing the lines of county supervisorial districts.
SB 212 – Local Options for Elections
SB 212 authorizes general law cities, counties, and school districts to utilize two majority-winner voting methods for local elections: top-two primary and ranked choice voting (RCV). RCV can be used in single-seat or multi-seat elections. This gives local jurisdictions the same flexibility that charter cities already have to conduct their elections.
SB 296 – College Assistance for Asylum Seekers
SB 296 would have enabled students residing in California who apply for asylum to escape persecution from their home country to be eligible for state financial aid through the Cal Grant program while their asylum application was being reviewed.
SB 638 – Reducing Cost Barriers to Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
SB 638 reformed previous insurance requirements for California’s renters so they became free to install and operate an EV charging station without insurance, providing it is certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory and installed by a licensed electrician. Absent such certification and licensed installation, the bill permitted landlords to require tenants who install an EV charging station to maintain personal liability insurance coverage for property damage and personal injury proximately caused by installation or operation of the station.
SB 641 – Special Elections Consolidation
SB 641 gave the governor more flexibility to work with local counties to determine the best election date for special elections. The bill extended the timeline for special election consolidation from 180 to 200 days.
SB 652 – Freedom of Religious Expression
SB 652 prohibited a property owner, landlord, or a homeowner association from adopting and enforcing a policy that would prevent a resident from displaying religious items on an entry door or doorframe of their home.
SB 677 – Latex Glove Safety
SB 677 helps protect latex-allergic people by requiring restaurants workers that use gloves to only use nonlatex alternatives such as nitrile, vinyl, or polyethylene options. These options cost the same or less than latex while providing the same level of protection for workers.
SB 682 – Climate Stabilization
SB 682 would have required California’s Air Resources Board to adopt Radiative Forcing (RF) protocols to evaluate climate mitigation and restoration actions to measure their effectiveness for reducing radiative forcing and excess heat. RF protocols are additive and complementary to existing Global Warming Protocols (GWP), which are critical for the state achieving its long-term GHG emissions reduction goals. Evaluating climate mitigation efforts using both RF and GWP will enable California to better assess not just the climate challenges facing the state but also the necessary, innovative solutions.
SB 742 – Passenger Rail Thruway Buses
SB 742 removed prohibitions in California law which hamstring an important network of publicly subsidized intercity buses. These restrictions, modeled after federal regulations, previously banned taxpayer-subsidized rail thruway buses from selling tickets to any passenger unless he or she either rode on a train before catching that bus or is riding on that bus to catch a train.
2018 Bills Authored by Senator Ben Allen
SB 720 – Environmental Education
This bill will increase access to environmental education through outdoor learning and other non-classroom based learning experiences by directing the Superintendent of Public Instruction and school district governing boards to promote environmental literacy. The bill also ensures that environmental principles and concepts are incorporated into core curriculum.
SB 933 – Arts for Every Student Act
This bill establishes an incentive grant program for school districts to expand access to visual and performing arts instruction, including music, dance, theatre, media arts and visual arts. Only 39% of students currently receive arts instruction. Arts education improves critical thinking and problem-solving skills, facilitates cross-cultural understanding, and supports civic engagement.
SB 961 – Public Transit
This bill provides a voluntary tool for local governments to help expedite transit improvements and incentivize affordable housing near transit by enabling them to bond against future sales and property tax increments without voter approval. The bill specifies that proceeds can be used for urban forestry, landscaping, and greening improvements, first and last mile access to transit for pedestrians and bicyclists, older adults, people with disabilities, and other priorities.
SB 964 – Public Pension Funds; Climate Risk
Climate change will have profound consequences for long-term financial investments held by institutional investors. SB 964 affirms the commitment of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System to address the material financial risks posed by climate change and asks the funds to report on that risk beginning in 2020.
SB 1015 – Climate Resiliency
SB 1015 will help California reach its climate goals while assisting local communities in adapting to, and withstanding, the impacts that climate change will have on public health and the environment. The bill establishes the Climate Resiliency Program at the Wildlife Conservation Board and will enlist the state’s 10 Conservancies to fund local projects that will help the state become more resilient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
SB 1016 – Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
SB 1016 will make electric vehicle ownership more widely available to condominium owners by prohibiting Home Owner Associations from unreasonably restricting an owner's ability to install a separate electric meter and accompanying infrastructure in the common area dedicated to electric vehicle charging.
SB 1017 – Sustainable Swordfish and Marine Life Protection Act
California is the last state that allows fishermen to use harmful drift gillnets in the swordfish fishery. SB 1017 will transition the industry away from one of the most destructive fishing practices on the West Coast by reducing the number of drift gillnets used to catch swordfish off the coast. The bill establishes a transition program that will incentivize fisherman to move away from drift gillnets to more sustainable fishing practices. Large scale drift gillnets have been banned on the high seas, in all other states, and in many countries worldwide because of the unavoidable impacts on marine wildlife, including whales, dolphins, sharks, pinnipeds, and sea turtles. Many of the species harmed by these nets are protected under state and federal law or covered under international protective agreements, such as the sperm whale, leatherback sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, common thresher shark, bigeye thresher shark, smooth hammerhead shark, scalloped hammerhead shark, shortfin mako shark and longfin mako shark.
SB 1018 – Redistricting Reform
This bill would allow school boards, community college boards and special district boards to establish independent, hybrid or advisory redistricting commissions, thereby bringing more transparency and nonpartisan redistricting to local districts.
SB 1335 – Sustainable Packaging in State Facilities Act
SB 1335 will reduce the amount of toxic waste that pollutes state parks, beaches, and oceans; chokes landfills; and litters communities by phasing out nonrecyclable take-out food packaging from state facilities, such as state beaches, parks and buildings.
SCA 22 – School Funding
This bill would place a constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot to lower the vote threshold needed for local communities to pass school bond measures from 2/3 vote to 55%.
2017 Bills Authored by Senator Ben Allen
SB 50 – Public Lands Protection Act
This bill is part of a package of measures aimed at safeguarding California’s environment from federal rollbacks. The bill gives the State Lands Commission first right of refusal to purchase the property if the federal government chooses to sell or lease any federally owned public lands in California. The bill would prohibit a county recorder from recording a change in title if the federal government does not offer the state the opportunity to purchase the property.
SB 79 – Electric Vehicle Incentives
This bill incentivizes the purchase of zero emission vehicles, particularly in disadvantaged communities, by eliminating the sales tax on used plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) for buyers trading in older used cars.
SB 140 – Promise Zones
The Promise Neighborhoods program is a United States Department of Education initiative that provides grant funding to designated distressed urban and rural areas to assist these communities in improving educational and health outcomes for students and youth. California has six federally-designated Promise Neighborhoods which have realized improvement in educational outcomes through this program. This bill would give priority to Promise Zone neighborhoods for receiving funds under the Learning Communities for School Success Program.
SB 150 – Building Sustainable Communities
This bill will ensure California’s landmark Sustainable Communities law (SB 375) is helping the state meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals by requiring transportation planning agencies and the Air Resources Board (ARB) to report on and monitor progress being made toward achieving vehicle miles travelled reduction targets. The bill would require those agencies not meeting their targets to prioritize funding to make better progress.
SB 162 – Marijuana Advertising Act
The bill would prohibit advertisement of marijuana products by licensed sellers on merchandise targeting youths, such as t-shirts and caps.
SB 235 – Judicial Ballot Designation Reform
This bill requires candidates for judicial office to use a ballot title that provides an accurate, unembellished, description of their occupation.
SB 249 – Off-highway Motor Vehicle Reauthorization
California’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Program, which seeks to ensure residents can enjoy this form of outdoor recreation in a sustainable and safe manner, is set to sunset at the end of 2017. This bill will reform and reauthorize the OHMVR program by balancing user opportunities, resource protection, and available funding, and putting in place effective safeguards ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy these resources. The bill updates the restoration program to better ensure that while these park lands are managed for recreation, their natural and cultural resources are protected.
SB 402 – Marine Fisheries
This bill will ensure the state’s representatives to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council retain authority over state marine fisheries.
SB 424 – Environmental Education
The bill seeks to improve environmental education by expanding the work of the California Regional Environmental Education Community Network designed to connect teachers with nonformal resources, such as outdoor education providers, zoos, aquaria, to supplement and support what is being taught in the classroom.
SB 436 – California STEM Professional Teaching Pathway Act of 2017
The bill will address the teacher shortage in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by establishing a state program to recruit, prepare, and support the transition of STEM professionals and military veterans into the teaching profession.
SB 461 – Small Hotel and Motels
This bill permits alcohol manufacturers to also own hotels, provided they have at least 50 rooms.
SB 541 – Stormwater Guidelines for Schools
This legislation directs the State Water Resources Control Board and the Division of the State Architect to develop stormwater capture guidelines for school sites. This bill is supported by the cities working together to address stormwater.
SB 560 – Protecting Pensions from Climate Risk
This bill requires public pension funds to consider the potential risks posed to investments, or to potential investments, resulting from the impacts of climate change.
SB 602 – Pollinator Protection Act
This bill classifies neonicotinoids (neonics) as restricted pesticides and requires labeling of plants sold at the retail level that have been treated with neonics.
SB 651 – Petition Disclosure Act
This bill would require that petitions circulated by paid circulators to include a disclosure of the entities from which the committee received the 3 largest cumulative contributions of $50,000 or more in support of the measure.
SB 674 – Student Loan Refinancing
This bill provides California students with private loans the opportunity to refinance their loans at lower interest rates by expanding the California Student Loan Refinancing Program.
SB 692 – Renewable Energy Charges
The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) operates the electricity transmission grid and assesses transmission access charges (TACs) to pay for the transmission system. In much of California, TACs are unfairly applied to energy from distributed generation (DG) resources, which are primarily renewable energy located close to homes and businesses and therefore do not use the transmission grid to deliver energy. Because of the misapplied TAC charge, DG projects effectively subsidize less clean energy sources. This subsidy inflates the demand for new transmission facilities, which means ratepayers pay for much more transmission infrastructure than they need. SB 692 corrects this inequity by preventing transmission fees from being charged on sources that do not use the transmission grid.
SB 705 – The Ocean Pollution Reduction Act
This bill prohibits food providers such as restaurants, grocery stores and supermarkets from selling food in disposable food containers that are made of polystyrene (Styrofoam). Polystyrene is a major source of ocean pollution.
SB 768 – Accelerating Transportation Projects
SB 768 permits regional transportation agencies and CalTrans to enter into Public-Private Partnerships (P3s), with no restrictions on the number or type of projects that could be undertaken. The bill deletes a restriction in current law that prohibits any P3 lease agreements from being entered into after January 1, 2017. Regional transportation agencies such as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority are considering P3s as a means to accelerate delivery of high-demand transportation projects.
SB 777 – Arts Education Access Bill
This bill requires the State Department of Education to establish a statewide program to provide professional development training to assist school districts and county boards of education with offering instruction in visual and performing arts.
2016 Bills Authored by Senator Ben Allen
SB 254 – Citizens United
This legislation places an advisory measure on the November 2016 ballot urging Congress to seek to amend the United States Constitution to overturn the Citizens United decision. Since the Citizens United ruling was handed down by the United States Supreme Court in 2010, campaign spending by Super PACs – the organizations whose contribution limits were lifted – has reached more than $1 billion.
SB 450 – Elections reform
This measure will transform the way elections are conducted by replacing traditional neighborhood polling places with centralized vote centers and ballot drop-off spots that would be open 10 days before Election Day, including weekends. In addition, every registered voter would receive a mail-in ballot, which could be returned by mail or dropped off at the new vote centers. Similar changes in Colorado have dramatically increased voter participation in that state.
SB 773 – Vehicular air pollution
Drivers who bypass the Smog Check program by failing to register their vehicle have major air quality impacts, but California lacks meaningful data on the scope and magnitude of the problem. SB 773 will provide critical information related to unregistered vehicles and policy suggestions on how best to remedy the situation by requesting the University of California to conduct a study of the problem.
SB 778 – Motor oil
This bill will save drivers money and reduce unnecessary oil waste by requiring automotive repair dealers to follow the oil drain interval specified in a vehicle owner’s manual when recommending the date or mileage for the next oil change on the window sticker or by other means. Reducing oil waste will lower the amount of oil polluting our waterways and degrading air quality.
SB 888 – Underground gas leaks
In response to the methane gas leak at Porter Ranch, SB 888 will improve coordination among the seven state agencies responding to future leaks by designating the Office of Emergency Services as the lead agency. It also requires that the fines paid by the party responsible for the leak are used to mitigate the environmental impacts of the leak, and are not passed on to ratepayers.
SB 916 – Theatre and Dance Act
California is one of only two states that does not issue teaching credentials in theatre or dance. Persons wishing to teach these subjects are required to obtain a credential in English or Physical Education, respectively, even though the training for theatre and dance is unrelated to these subjects. Recognizing the importance of the visual and performing arts to students’ education and the economy, SB 916 creates single-subject credentials for theatre and for dance.
SB 933 – Teacher training and mentorship
This bill addresses the teacher shortage by providing funds for local school districts to recruit, train, and retain teachers through teacher residency and mentoring programs. Enrollment in teacher preparation programs at state universities has plunged 75% from 2001 to 2014. Studies show that teachers enrolled in residency programs are 50% more likely to stay in the profession.
SB 1038 – Tuberculosis testing
This legislation will help alleviate the shortage of tuberculosis tests by eliminating universal tuberculosis testing for community college employees, and instead conducting tests only when indicated as necessary by a screening.
SB 1043 – Biogas
This bill will lower the harmful environmental impacts of the natural gas sector. It requires the Air Resources Board to adopt policies to increase the production and use of renewable, less carbon intensive gas, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help California comply with climate change goals.
SB 1083 – Oil spills
In response to lessons learned from the 2015 Refugio oil spill, SB 1083 requires the Office of Spill Prevention and Response to add a communications element to the state’s Oil Spill Contingency Plan, ensuring local communities have timely and accurate information about oil spills, including information about who the responsible party is.
SB 1107 – Campaign finance
In 1988, voters enacted Proposition 73, which banned public financing of campaigns. SB 1107 would repeal this ban, authorizing public financing to be adopted by the state or local governments.
SB 1108 – Local redistricting commissions
This bill would authorize counties or charter cities to establish an independent redistricting commission to draw the boundaries of supervisorial or city council districts. Under current law, local redistricting commissions must be advisory only.
SB 1114 – Sustainable Swordfish and Marine Life Protection Act
This bill will clean up the most harmful fishing industry on the West Coast and save marine life by transitioning the swordfish industry away from drift gillnets to more sustainable technology. Hundreds of sea turtles, sharks, whales and other marine life are injured or killed in these damaging nets every year.
SB 1161 – Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act
Recently discovered documents show that many of the world's largest fossil fuel companies knowingly worked to deceive the public about the realities and risks of climate change for decades, despite detailed knowledge about the impact their product was having on the climate. SB 1161 creates a one-time, four-year window in which legal actions may be brought against companies over climate change deception.
SB 1214 – University of California contracting
This bill will enable the University of California to save money and time on construction projects by authorizing the use of “best value” bids for construction contracts.
SB 1215 – California Aerospace Commission
Aerospace is a major industry in California, but there is no official state entity responsible for coordinating and developing state policy affecting this industry. SB 1215 will establish the California Aerospace Commission to fill this void in state government.
SB 1260 – Stormwater compliance
This bill will help cities comply with new stormwater discharge standards by requiring the State Water Resources Control Board to establish an online resource center containing information about programs and funding available for stormwater pollution reduction.
SB 1282 (Leno/Allen) – Pollinator Protection Act
In 2015, California beekeepers lost a staggering 40 percent of their hives. Research confirms that toxic neonicotinoid pesticides kill and harm bees, which poses a serious threat to the food system which relies on bees for pollination. SB 1282 requires labels on any plants or seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides so that the public can make an informed choice when purchasing products that have been treated with a pesticide harmful to bees.
SB 1408 – Organ donation
This bill saves the lives of HIV-positive persons who need organ transplants by removing the prohibition on organ donation by HIV-positive persons to other HIV-positive persons.
SB 7X, Transit funding
This bill will increase funding for public transit projects by raising the incremental sales tax rate on diesel fuel.
2015 Bills Authored by Senator Ben Allen
Senate Bill 277 – Vaccines (Pan/Allen)
High rates of unvaccinated students in many schools has led to outbreaks of communicable diseases that were eradicated decades ago, such as measles. SB 277 will reduce the number of unvaccinated students by eliminating the “Personal Belief Exemption” from current law, which has allowed children to attend school without the required immunizations. This change will protect students from exposure to potentially deadly diseases.
Senate Bill 254 – State highways
This bill simplifies and streamlines the process by which state highways are transferred to local communities.
Senate Bill 380 – Topline Teacher Recruitment Act
To encourage California’s best and brightest to enter the teaching profession, SB 380 creates a program to recruit top high school seniors by offering them a full merit scholarship to a public college or university, in return for a five-year commitment to teach in a public high school.
Senate Bill 386 – Veterans pension scams
Veterans of the United Stated armed forces face many challenges when they return to civilian life, and some have been preyed upon by unscrupulous persons who promise a lump sum of money in exchange for signing over their future monthly benefits. These schemes are illegal, but advertisements for them continue to appear in publications targeting veterans. SB 386 makes it illegal to advertise this type of financial scam.
Senate Bill 434 – Property tax fairness
Mobile homes purchased prior to 1980 are taxed as vehicles at a low rate of $19 to $80 a year. If these mobile homes are completely rebuilt on a foundation system, SB 434 requires them to be taxed in the same manner as other permanent homes.
Senate Bill 439 – Election modernization
California’s statewide voter turnout in the November 2014 election was just 42%, a record low. Los Angeles County’s turnout was the lowest in the state at 31%. This legislation will modernize how elections are conducted, making it more convenient for voters. SB 439 authorizes county elections officials to mail every voter a ballot and expand early voting a minimum of eight hours per day for 10 days before Election Day, including weekends. Voters will be able to cast a ballot at any vote center within their county, instead of being tied to a single polling location. Based on similar landmark reforms implemented in Colorado, these changes are expected to revolutionize California’s voting systems, and vastly increase turnout.
Senate Bill 447 – Community clinic reimbursements
Community clinics provide an affordable, convenient way for low-income and uninsured persons to obtain medical care, including prescription medications. But a complicated billing methodology required by the state has prevented clinics from receiving reimbursement for medications they dispense. SB 447 simplifies the drug reimbursement process by specifying clinics are entitled to the Medi-Cal reimbursement rate, and will result in clinics receiving crucial funding to which they are entitled.
Senate Bill 454 – Groundwater protection
This bill establishes criteria to protect California’s precious groundwater aquifers from the waste pollution resulting from oil and gas extraction operations.
Senate Bill 460 – English language learners
This bill enables school districts to continue to receive supplemental funding for English language learners for two years after they are redesignated as no longer English language learners, or until statewide redesignation standards are implemented.
Senate Bill 613 – Alzheimer’s and dementia care
This legislation requires the state Department of Health Care Services to develop evidence-based guidelines for the care of persons with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, in consultation with nurses, social workers, primary care physicians, advocates for people with dementia, health plans and insurers.
Senate Bill 637 – Rivers and stream protection
Suction dredging is a form of mining that can cause severe environmental damage to rivers and streams. SB 637 will give the State Water Resources Control Board the authority it needs to ensure water quality is protected during suction dredging, or to deny a permit to do so if it cannot be done in a manner that maintains water quality standards.
Senate Bill 652 – Common Core science curriculum
The new Next Generation Science Standards will revolutionize the way students learn and align with new Common Core standards. SB 652 will help to ensure the success of the science curriculum by allowing an additional year for the curriculum framework and instructional materials criteria to be adopted.
Senate Bill 687 – Climate change; renewable gas standard
Natural gas is responsible for one-quarter of all California’s greenhouse gas emissions. SB 687 requires gas sellers to reduce the carbon intensity of their gas by increasing the percentage of renewable gas they use, and sets a goal of 10% renewable sources by 2030. Eligible renewable sources would include gas made from organic waste.
Senate Bill 773 – Air pollution; unregistered vehicles
Unregistered vehicles are a major source of air pollution because a disproportionate number of these cars are gross-emitting vehicles that have not passed smog tests. This bill requests the University of California to issue a report on the prevalence of unregistered vehicles, and recommend strategies to increase compliance with registration laws.
Senate Bill 778 – Clean motor oils
As part of the state Senate’s legislative package addressing climate change, this bill will require motor oil sold in the state to meet quality standards that protect engines, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lessen oil pollution in waterways and the ocean, and make improvements to gas mileage equivalent to taking a half a million cars off the road.
Senate Bill 786 – Career technical education
This legislation will provide funding stability to regional occupational centers, such as the Southern California Regional Occupational Center, by authorizing them to participate in newly formed Adult Education consortiums.