After balking last week, the California Legislature is preparing for a vote on a series of bills that would help offset the state’s housing crisis.
Senate Bill 2 from Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, is the most controversial measure in the housing package. The bill would impose a $75 to $225 fee on real estate transactions and generate as much as $258 million per year for low-income housing development and programs to combat homelessness.
Atkins has struggled to convince two-thirds of the Assembly – all 54 Democrats – to support a fee increase after they raised gas taxes on motorists earlier this year. Besides the unpopular transportation measure, the Legislature extended the state’s cap-and-trade program climate change, which will raise the price of gas.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Los Angeles, on Friday called off a vote on SB 2 and two other housing measures after it became clear that they didn’t have the votes to pass the Atkins bill in part due to a lawmaker’s absence from the floor session.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Leaders of both houses would like to vote on the package this week, although it’s unclear whether they can get SB 2 to the governor’s desk by the time the legislative session ends on Sept. 15.
Atkins worked through the summer recess to talk with every member of the Assembly about the measure. She subsequently amended the bill to give revenue from the real estate fee to each district and prioritize programs to curb homelessness, which gives lawmakers something to boast about during election season. Atkins had not yet secured verbal commitments for 54 yes votes by late Friday, but planned to continue to work through the holiday weekend.
“The most important thing is the author and supporters can talk to everyone who remains undecided and has questions,” said Nick Hardeman, Atkins’ chief-of-staff, said on Friday. “We need the time to do that.”
Welcome to the AM Alert, your morning rundown on California policy and politics. To receive it regularly, please sign up here.
WORTH REPEATING: “It's embarrassing that California shuts down its nightlife so early.” – Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, on his bill that would allow cities to extend bar closing times to 4 a.m.
EARLY BIRD: Domestic Violence Awareness Month isn’t until October, but lawmakers in California are starting to draw attention to the issue a month early. Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, will speak in support of Assembly Bill 557, her measure to allow someone fleeing an abuser to apply for homeless assistance under CalWORKS. A rally is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on the north steps of the Capitol. It will be followed by a mixer in the Capitol Plaza Ballrooms at 5 p.m.
POLITICAL ANIMALS: Equality California and the California LGBT Legislative Caucus are hosting a screening of ‘Political Animals,’ a documentary focused on the first four member of the caucus – Jackie Goldberg, Christine Kehoe, Sheila Kuehl, and Carole Migden during the gay rights movement. The screening, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Crest Theater, also coincides with the 15th anniversary of the LGBT caucus.
MUST READ: Concern over soaring tuition rates and ballooning student debt has propelled a rapidly expanding campaign for free college. Democrats are taking up the mantle in California, though they disagree about who should benefit.