California State Assembly gears up for big votes

By Emily Hoeven | | 

Grab some popcorn — you’ll need it Monday, when the state Assembly takes do-or-die votes on a slew of ambitious and controversial bills after declining to act on them Thursday. Why are the votes do-or-die? Because the bills, which failed to pass the Assembly last year, face a Jan. 31 deadline to clear their house of origin and stay alive. 

Among the proposals we’re watching: one that would create a state-funded single-payer health care system; one that would launch a state-appointed council to negotiate wages, hours and work conditions for the entire fast food industry; and another that would force property owners in rent-controlled jurisdictions to hold onto their buildings for at least five years before invoking the Ellis Act, which gives them a path to exit the rental market and evict tenants. 

Leaving the vote until Monday gives lawmakers more time to rustle up support for their bills — a more challenging proposition than usual given that four Democratic Assembly seats are currently vacant. And the stakes are high, especially in an election year: The California Democratic Party’s progressive caucus warned Thursday that it will seek to block party endorsements for any assemblymember who votes against the single-payer proposal. 

Another sign that legislators may be trying to make their proposals more amenable: last-minute amendments introduced Thursday.
  • The fast-food bill no longer grants the state-appointed council subpoena authority. (However, the state Department of Industrial Relations, which would oversee the council, has its own subpoena power.)
  • And small landlords are now exempted from the restrictions outlined in the Ellis Act bill.

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