REGION — While much state legislative activity advances along party lines, nevertheless North County’s lawmakers have put their names on a variety of bipartisan bills so far in the 2021-22 legislative session.
Collectively, North County’s six representatives to Sacramento have sponsored 44 bipartisan bills, representing about one-third of all bipartisan legislator-sponsored bill activity.
Some 2,400 bills are winding through the statehouse, having at least been introduced, according to a Coast News analysis of the most recent legislative database from Legiscan, a data provider. Only 561 have gained sponsorship from more than one legislator.
Of these, three-quarters are strictly partisan — 373 have all Democrat sponsors and 49 have all Republican sponsors. The remaining 139 have at least one Democrat and Republic sponsor; 47 boast more than one sponsor from each party.
North County’s legislators include three Democrats and three Republicans. Sen. Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas) represent Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista and Camp Pendleton. Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee) and Assemblywoman Marie Waldron (R-Escondido) represent San Marcos and Escondido. Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assemblyman Chris Ward (D-San Diego) represent Solana Beach and Del Mar.
Bipartisan bills carrying at least one North County sponsor cover a range of issues. For example, among the most bipartisan (by “equitability,” a statistical measure):
- SB 74 would establish a COVID-relief grant program for small businesses and nonprofits;
- SB 19 would expand alcohol licenses for winegrowers and brandy manufacturers;
- AB 348 would require an annual summary of state, federal and private funds spent to develop affordable housing, echoing a recent recommendation from the state auditor;
- SB 227 would change certain regulations pertaining to off-road vehicles;
- AB 582 would increase punishment for drivers who flee hit-and-run scenes;
- AB 239 would allow winegrowers to sell and deliver wine to consumers in consumer-supplied containers.
North County’s three Republican representatives have sponsored an average of 19 bipartisan bills each, while the three Democrats have sponsored an average of 4 each.
The Coast News asked all six lawmakers to comment about their bipartisan activity, as well as other priority or interesting legislation.
“While partisan conflicts often get the headlines, Republicans and Democrats do work together on many issues,” Bates said. The Orange County lawmaker highlighted her SB 434, a bipartisan bill that would crack down on certain health facilities engaging in fraudulent or misleading marketing.
Bates also emphasized her SB 668 and SB 706 (no co-sponsors). These would, respectively, delay the reassessment of property transferred from parents or grandparents to their children or grandchildren; and increase penalties for certain failures to disclose to state tax officials the acquisition of ownership interests in real property.
Jones, despite sponsoring the most bipartisan bills of his North County colleagues, took a harsher tone regarding the opposing party.
“Politicians in the Democrat ruling party in Sacramento are always looking to raise taxes and fees so it’s a never-ending battle to keep them in check,” he said.
“Unbelievable how much nanny government we have in California,” he said of AB 1084, a Democrat-sponsored bill that would require department stores to combine boys’ and girls’ sales floor areas into “gender-neutral” areas.
Atkins emphasized her SB 7, which would expand streamlining eligibility under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, to small housing development projects. Affordable housing and building industry advocates sometimes blame CEQA for killing affordable housing development projects with red tape.
While the bill gained no Republican sponsors, Bates and Jones recently voted in favor of it.
Aktins also highlighted her SB 1, which would establish measures to combat sea-level rise, including, among other things, a new state-level grant-making body. This bill carries no Republican sponsors and recently passed out of committee along a party-line vote.
Ward highlighted four bills, none with cosponsors. AB 218 would allow people to change their legal gender and sex listed on their children’s birth certificates. AB 223 would prohibit removing or harvesting dudleya, an endangered plant, from certain properties. AB 311 would prevent the sale of homemade, unregistered gun kits at gun shows. AB 340 would allow the use of certain state financial aid to pay for student debt and apprenticeship programs.
Boerner Horvath and Waldron’s offices did not respond to requests for comment.