California Legislative Roundup

Key bills on climate accountability and health reach Newsom’s desk

The California State Capitol in Sacramento


Stephen Leonardi

The state legislature gaveled down on the 2023 legislative session just before midnight on September 14. After fits and starts, fierce lobbying, and tense moments, it was a strong finish for environmental and health bills in California. NRDC and our partners worked effectively together to persuade legislators to vote to protect Californians from liability for oil well cleanup, and from the health harms of toxic chemicals. We also scored legislative victories on issues including clean energy, climate accountability, clean transportation funding, and water efficiency. Below are highlights of key bills on Governor Newsom’s desk. 

NRDC sponsored or co-sponsored bills 

 AB 363 (Bauer-Kahan) to direct the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to fully and timely complete reevaluation of outdoor, non-agricultural uses of neonicotinoid insecticides, or “neonics” and ban over-the-counter home and garden sales of neonic pesticides by 2025.  

 AB 1167 (W. Carrillo) to ensure that California taxpayers are not stuck with the bill for cleaning up oil wells that get sold to less financially stable buyers.  

AB 1572 (Friedman) to prohibit the use of California’s treated drinking water for irrigation of decorative grass landscapes (nonfunctional turf) located on commercial, industrial, municipal, and institutional properties in stages through 2031.   

SB 410 (Becker) to require the California Public Utilities Commission to establish reasonable average and maximum target energization time periods to connect new customers and upgrade the service of existing customers to the electrical grid.

NRDC strongly supports the following along with our coalition partners:  

AB 126 (Reyes and Gonzalez) to extend certain vehicle fees that were first established in 2007. These nominal fees provide reliable funding for programs that support the transition to zero-emission vehicles and reduce vehicle pollution.  

AB 421 (Bryan) for state referendum measures, this bill requires top funders to be listed in the voter information guide. It also clarifies the wording on ballots to “Keep the law” or “overturn the law” rather than “Yes” or “No.” Victory! This bill was signed into law on September 8. 

AB 631 (Hart) improves enforcement tools to go after oil operations that violate the law, endanger public health, and threaten the environment.   

 AB 1373 (Garcia) safeguards California’s energy grid while giving the state the ability to step up when needed to procure diverse, long-lead time resources like offshore wind.

SB 48 (Becker) - develops a strategy to track and manage energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions in buildings over 50,000 square feet.

SB 244 (Eggman) “Right to Repair” Allows individual owners and regulated independent service dealers access to functional parts, tools, and service literature from manufacturers for electronics and appliances.  

SB 253 (Wiener) requires the most profitable US-based corporations with annual gross revenues of $1 billion USD or greater that do business in California to publicly disclose their full greenhouses gas emissions in a manner easily understandable and accessible to the people of California. Good news! The Governor committed to signing this bill. 

SB 261 (Stern) requires corporations with more than $500 million in gross revenues that do business in California to report on their respective climate-related financial risk. Good news! The Governor committed to signing this bill. 

SB 355 (Eggman) - Improves the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing Program to increase access to funding for low-income housing.

SB 394 (Gonzalez) – Requires a statewide master planning process for sustainable, resilient school infrastructure.

SB 389 (Allen) grants the State Water Resources Control Board the authority to review, verify, and issue decisions on senior water rights claims not granted via the Water Commission Act of 1913.  

SB 555 (Wahab) creates the Stable Affordable Housing Act of 2023 to direct the state’s Housing and Community Development Department to study the development of social housing through a mix of acquisition and new production. 

SB 619 (Padilla) aims to speed up the state permitting process for electric lines. 

SB 745 (Cortese) - Requires the development of building standards to reduce potable water use in new residential buildings to improve water efficiency and make the state's buildings more drought resistant.

Below are bills that are on hold for 2023 and are “two-year bills:”  

AB 7 (Friedman) requires state transportation agencies to incorporate the principles of the Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure and the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in those agencies’ project selection and implementation process.  

AB 80 (Addis) establishes a West Coast Offshore Wind Science Entity, which will advance coordinated wildlife and ecosystem research and monitoring necessary for managing offshore wind development on the U.S. West Coast in the most environmentally responsible manner.  

AB 408 (Wilson) to provide critical funding for sustainable agriculture, farmworker health and safety, healthy food infrastructure, and regional food infrastructure.   

AB 593 (Haney) directs the California Energy Commission (CEC) to identify and implement an emissions reduction strategy for the building sector to advance California’s path to carbon neutrality by 2045. 

AB 985 (Arambula) requires the California Air Resources Board to review the San Joaquin Air Board’s emission reduction credit system for effectiveness and equity.

AB 1250 (Friedman) ensures data collection to assist California in addressing emissions from its use of key carbon-intensive materials (asphalt, cement and concrete) used in state infrastructure projects.   

SB 674 (Gonzalez) expands the scope of the fence-line monitoring system to include monitoring at biofuel refineries and for additional pollutants. 

We’ll keep working on climate and natural resources bond bills that must pass the legislature early next year to go before voters in November 2024. AB 1567 and SB 867 are two bond bills that will provide critical funds for climate resilience and mitigation, in addition to AB 408 (Wilson) that provides funding for sustainable agriculture, farmworker health and safety, and healthy food infrastructure.  

We also plan to revisit our efforts to phase out toxic chemicals from plastic products and packaging. Assembly Member Luz Rivas authored AB 1290 in 2023. The bill is pending on the Assembly Floor. 

Finally, we will explore the best way to ensure that Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are installed by licensed contractors with permits. We were disappointed when a bill we were co-sponsoring with the labor community, SB 795 (Stern), didn’t move out of the Assembly Appropriations committee. 

Stay tuned for updates on the fate of bills on Governor Newsom’s desk. Thank you for writing, calling, and visiting your state representatives on these critical environmental priorities.  

Related Issues
Fossil Fuels

Related Blogs