With nearly two months of the 2023-24 state legislative session under their belts, Long Beach’s representatives have drafted a slew of bills to address opioid addiction, gun regulations, air pollution from oil refineries and more.
Friday, Feb. 17, was the deadline to introduce new bills for this session. Some bills are placeholders on topics legislators are still researching, and others may get rewritten in an effort to win support as they pass through committees. Here’s a sampling of the issues the city’s delegation is working on.
Assemblymember Mike Gipson
Gipson represents the 65th District, a weirdly shaped area that includes North Long Beach and Compton on its northern end and Wilmington, part of San Pedro and the Port of Los Angeles to the south, with most of Carson cut out of the middle (it’s in the 69th District).
Gipson—a former police officer and Carson City Council member—has been a state legislator for almost a decade, but his district changed when the lines were redrawn after the 2020 census; it now includes a little more of Long Beach plus San Pedro and the LA port.
In the 2023-24 session, Gipson has put forward a package of 28 bills that deal with topics including police reform, gun laws, public safety, health equity and the rights of foster youth. Here are a few details:
AB 1089: This bill would tighten restrictions on using a 3D printer or CNC milling machine (a computerized cutting tool) to manufacture a gun, and it would create legal liability for anyone who “distributes any code or digital instructions for the manufacture of a firearm” by such a printer or machine.
In an email, Gipson said he was thinking of the tragedy of David Mora, a man who was prohibited from having firearms when he used a ghost gun to kill his daughters, the chaperone supervising his visit with them and himself last year in Sacramento. Authorities don’t know how or when Mora obtained the gun, Gipson said.
AB 1751: Under current law, if a doctor intends to treat pain in a minor patient by prescribing opioids, they must first discuss the risk of addiction and other dangers with the patient and their parent or guardian. The bill would extend that requirement to cover patients of any age and also require doctors to explain alternative, non-drug treatments or therapies.
AB 21: The bill would require that law enforcement officers get trained in “how to effectively interact with persons with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia” as part of crisis intervention techniques.
“Oftentimes people with dementia can become confused and agitated and it is important that our peace officers are trained to recognize these signs and respond with compassion and patience,” Gipson said in the email.
Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal
Lowenthal, a Long Beach native and business owner, is new to state politics but comes from a political family that includes his father, Alan, who held local, state and federal elected offices for three decades; and his mother, Bonnie, a Port of Long Beach Harbor Commissioner and former City Council member. His 69th District includes most of Long Beach and Carson, plus Signal Hill and Catalina Island.
In addition to focusing on protections for girls and young women, Lowenthal authored a gun safety bill and is supporting climate legislation that could address air quality and protect communities from sea level rise. Here are a few of his proposals:
AB 1013: Under the bill, alcohol-serving restaurants and bars would have to offer test strips, straws, or some other device to detect certain drugs in beverages; the aim is to help patrons make sure no one has drugged their drink. The bars and restaurants could charge patrons to cover their costs for the testing devices.
AB 1164: Crowding and patient wait times at hospitals, especially in emergency departments, became a higher-profile issue during the pandemic. This bill would mandate that hospitals create a protocol to deal with crowding and help speed the process of getting patients admitted after they’ve received emergency care, to free up space in the ER for incoming patients.
Lowenthal said a previous version of this bill was vetoed in 2008 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Our emergency rooms are the only locations in the entire state where not a single patient will be turned away, so it’s critically important that we have the facilities and resources available to see all our patients in a timely manner—it could be a life or death situation,” he said.
AB 1135: Remember long-distance charges? Most young people probably don’t, but phone companies used to charge extra for calls outside your geographic area (such as to another state), so most government agencies and some businesses responded by paying for toll-free numbers, so callers wouldn’t have to bear the cost.
This bill would require state agencies to switch their main phone numbers to non-toll-free ones and inform the public of the change. Lowenthal said while he’s not sure how much it’s costing taxpayers to maintain those lines, it’s certainly multiple millions of dollars.
Having toll-free access to their government was “important to consumers back at a time when we paid per-minute long-distance charges, but to my knowledge, there’s not a single plan remaining for domestic long-distance charges. We don’t pay long distance on our cell phone plans,” and people can make free calls over the internet, Lowenthal said, so there’s no need for toll-free lines.
Senator Lena Gonzalez
Gonzalez, who won a special election in 2019 and was elected to a full term the following year, represents the 33rd District, which stretches from Long Beach north to the city of Vernon.
Some of her bills this session focus on environmental protection, extending paid sick leave and giving more people access to electric vehicles, she said in an email.
“This legislation will greatly benefit working families and underserved communities all across California who have been struggling the most from the impacts of climate change, and a post-pandemic economy,” Gonzalez said. “I believe it is extremely important to prioritize equity in our legislative work so that those who need help the most are getting the support they need.”
SB 57: Details of this bill are still being hammered out, but the basic idea is to stop utility providers from shutting off service during major storms and other extreme weather events.
Electric utilities—whose lines or equipment have been blamed for some of the state’s most devastating wildfires—have at times opted to shut down service when dry weather and high winds increased fire risk. But critics point out that the loss of power is not just an inconvenience for people and businesses; some customers need electricity to charge electric wheelchairs, keep medicine refrigerated or run life-saving medical devices.
SB 674: Petroleum refineries are already required in some cases to install air monitoring equipment to measure any pollutants they generate and make sure they don’t exceed legal limits.
The bill would expand the types of refinery facilities that must monitor emissions and create a statewide standard, require the facilities to collect and report monitoring data and conduct independent audits to ensure the data is accurate.
SB 616: California employers are currently required to provide most employees with at least three paid sick days per year. The bill would increase that minimum to seven days.
A federal bill passed early in the pandemic provided emergency sick leave to most workers who had COVID-19 symptoms, were recommended to quarantine or were caring for someone infected with the coronavirus.
A fact sheet on Gonzalez’s bill said that emergency leave was “one of the most effective tools in curbing the spread of COVID-19” and that paid leave is especially important for lower-income workers “who can least afford to miss work and jeopardize their ability to make ends meet.”
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