Coming out of the 2023 legislative session, over twenty CALPIRG-backed bills have advanced and now head to Governor Newsom’s desk to be signed into law. Here is a roundup of eight bills we think could have a real positive impact on the lives of everyone who calls California home.
The right to repair our stuff
Once the Governor signs the Right to Repair Act (Senate Bill 244), Californians will have access to the parts, tools, and repair information needed to fix our electronics, appliances and other devices. We can keep our phones, washing machines, printers and other machines in use longer which will not only save us money, but will help take a huge bite out of the state’s electronic waste problem. Californians currently dispose of approximately 46,000 cell phones per day, and only 15 to 20 percent of electronic waste is recycled.
A cleaner, healthier ride to school
Starting in 2035 California school children could be much more likely to ride to school on an electric bus. Assembly Bill 579 sets a state goal of 100% new electric school buses by 2035. The majority of California’s 24,000 school buses currently run on diesel. Transitioning to an all-electric fleet will not only reduce global warming emissions, but it will eliminate the tailpipe pollution that has been linked to serious health risks, including respiratory illness and cancer.
No more junk fees
One of the most basic tenets of consumer protection is transparency. Hidden fees jack up prices for everything from hotels to food deliveries to cable, leaving consumers blindsided when they finally reach the checkout screen. If Senate Bill 478 becomes law, consumers will be able to see the whole price of a product upfront, prior to purchasing.
Protections against surprise ambulance bills
No one in a medical emergency should hesitate to call 911 for fear of a large out-of-network ambulance bill, and they definitely don’t have time to consult a network directory to make sure the ambulance they call is covered by their health plan. Assembly Bill 716 will prohibit surprise ambulance bills, so Californians could soon make sure that protecting their physical health isn’t so detrimental to their financial health.
We should be able to trust that the food we eat and feed our kids is safe, but some ingredients on the market are connected to harmful health impacts. Red Dye No. 3 for example is added to kid’s treats like freeze pops and strawberry milk to give them their red color, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has known of a link between Red 3 and cancer in lab rat tests for decades. Assembly Bill 418 will ban four toxic food ingredients, including Red Dye 3. If this bill becomes law, many popular foods will be safer for our families.
Less microplastic in the water
A shocking amount of plastic is shed from our clothes, and enters our waterways from our washing machines. One study estimated that in 2019, as much as 2,200 tons of synthetic microfibers were generated from apparel washing in California. But thanks to Assembly Bill 1628, starting in 2029 new washing machines sold in California could come with filters designed to capture microplastics and prevent them from entering our environment and waterways.
Better lead testing in schools
Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin, so we should be doing everything we can to get lead out of drinking water, especially our schools as lead is particularly toxic to children. Assembly Bill 249 requires better lead testing and remediation in school drinking water, helping our kids’ get access to safe, clean drinking water where they learn and grow.
Few bee-killing pesticides
We depend on bees to pollinate one-third of our food. They’re essential, and yet we’re poisoning them. Assembly Bill 363 will help save the bees by banning bee-killing pesticides called neonics from being used in lawns, gardens, and golf courses. If signed, our state will join six others that are taking action to save the bees.
We made incredible progress this year advocating for consumers and creating a more healthy, livable California. We didn’t win every bill we set out to, so we’ll keep bringing people together to tackle California’s urgent problems, but we’re pleased with what we’ve accomplished this year, thanks in large part to our supporters.
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State Director, CALPIRG
Jenn directs CALPIRG’s advocacy efforts, and is a leading voice in Sacramento and across the state on protecting public health, consumer protections and defending our democracy. Jenn has served on the CALPIRG board for the past two years before stepping into her current role. Most recently, as the deputy national director for the Student PIRGs, she helped run our national effort to mobilize hundreds of thousands of students to vote. She led CALPIRG’s organizing team for years and managed our citizen outreach offices across the state, running campaigns to ban single-use plastic bags, stop the overuse of antibiotics, and go 100% renewable energy. Jenn lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys spending time at the beach and visiting the many amazing restaurants in her city.