Hurting homeless people and helping out billionaires: Don't let these troubling bills become law

Hurting homeless people and helping out billionaires: Don't let these troubling bills become law
Los Angeles County's ability to provide services to the homeless could be impeded by the union-backed AB 1250, one of the bills that should die this week in the California Legislature. (Los Angeles Times)

We already made a last-minute pitch for good bills pending in the final days of the 2017 California legislative session. Now it's time to talk about the troubling bills that the Los Angeles Times editorial board believes should not become law.

AB 1250 Why? It endangers homeless services, for one thing


This union-backed legislation would severely limit the power of counties to contract out for services. In Los Angeles County, in particular, it would seriously cripple the county's efforts to combat homelessness. The bill compels county boards of supervisors to use only their payroll employees — or hire onto their payrolls — for services unless they can prove that contracting out the work will save money. That's a cumbersome, unnecessary process for the county and the contractors alike.

Right now, L.A. County is gearing up to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, generated by voter-approved Measure H, on services for homeless people. Most of those services will be provided through contracts with highly skilled and respected nonprofit groups with expertise in this field. AB 1250 could be the single biggest impediment to rolling out that funding. At a time when homelessness has increased by 23% in the county, Los Angeles does not need this hurdle in its path to fighting homelessness.

Read our full argument about why this is a bad idea here.

SB 649 Why? It's an attack on local government autonomy

The provisions in this legislation would force every city and county in the state to turn over their street lights, utility poles and other public infrastructure to for-profit telecommunication companies to install 5G mobile network equipment — even if the community doesn't want it. This would strip the city's power to push back on the mass deployment of equipment by private companies, which in some cases could be clunky eyesores, placed in the public right away. That's wrong. Cities and counties have the right to decide how to use their own assets.

SB 630 Why? It's a headline-driven hate-crimes bill

This end-of-session bill was a response to the death of a protester in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this summer and would make it easier to punish offenses against "allies" of victims of racism. While well-intentioned, it contains vague language that could actually complicate the attempt to bring violent criminals to justice.

Hate crime laws serve a useful purpose in punishing acts that are clearly motivated by bigotry. But they need to be carefully designed and not enacted, or amended, in response to the headlines of the day.

Read the full editorial here.

SB 789 Why? It would bend environmental rules for billionaires

This is little more than a gift to deep-pocketed developers who want to build a few favored projects, not fix the flawed CEQA process.

The bill's author, Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena), removed the exemptions for Olympics-related projects and language that would have allowed the city of Inglewood to use eminent domain to take private commercial property without first completing an analysis as required under the California Environmental Quality Act.

But the bill would still exempt certain projects within Inglewood's sports and entertainment district, including the proposed Clippers arena, from the full CEQA requirements.

AB 1408 Why? It would roll back criminal reforms
Since we wrote about this at length in Wednesday's paper, I won't belabor the argument here.


And finally, some good news. AB 726, a problematic last-minute bill that would have restructured the state’s electric grid, was pulled by its author Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) Wednesday afternoon.


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2:45 p.m.: This post was updated with the news that AB 726 was pulled by its author Wednesday afternoon.