By Rebecca Saltzman, Program Associate
June 8, 2011
Sometimes the most exciting work of California’s environmental movement happens in what might not be regarded as an exciting venue: the state Capitol building in Sacramento.
CLCV Education Fund, formed and facilitates Green California, a powerful network of more than 75 environmental, public health and social justice organizations. Together we plan, strategize and work collaboratively in order to speak to the state legislature and regulatory agencies with a unified voice on issues impacting California’s air, water and natural resources.
Green California participants meet regularly as a full group and in five policy committees to share knowledge and to determine our priority “hot list” bills for the state legislature. Though I’ve only been working with and coordinating Green California since January, I’m already blown away by the power of this network.
The past couple of weeks have been very exciting for Green California as we’ve worked together to pass our top priority hot list bills out of their first houses. Last Friday, June 3rd, was the deadline to do so. Even though we faced many uphill battles, every hot list bill that we supported that made it to the floor of the Assembly or Senate was passed by its first house!
How did we do this? Through a combination of hard work, passion, and a lot of help from our friends!
Green California is truly collaborative. Leaders from organizations including CLCV, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Environment California, Natural Resources Defense Council, Planning and Conservation League, Sierra Club, and TransForm worked day and night to pass all of Green California‘s priority bills. They helped round up last minute votes that were critical to passing some bills, like AB 1319 (which would ban the toxic chemical BPA in baby products) and SB 568 (which would phase out styrofoam).
We couldn’t have had such a resounding success without help from our legislative allies. All of the bill authors worked hard to pass their bills. They were aided by Green California champions Senators Kevin De León and Alan Lowenthal, and Assemblymembers Luis Alejo, Roger Hernandez, Jerry Hill and Ricardo Lara.
Though our work in the last couple of weeks pushed us over the edge to victory, we couldn’t have been so successful without advance planning and work. To introduce Green California and its membership to new legislators, we set up meet-and-greet meetings back in February with 18 new asssemblymembers and senators.
We followed up in May with the 2011 Green California Advocacy Day, where we educated legislators and their staff about Green California priorities. More than 50 people from 27 Green California member groups participated in the day, meeting with members or staff from nearly 70 legislative offices and dropping off information packets at dozens of other offices.
Our advance work paid off, leading to our success in passing so many priority bills off the floors of their first houses. What did we pass? Here’s the list of Assembly and Senate bills we passed. (For more information about these bills, check out the more detailed PDF.)
- AB 42 (Huffman): Helping Keep State Parks Open
- AB 296 (Skinner): Building Standards: Cool Pavement
- AB 341 (Chesbro): Solid Waste: Diversion
- AB 359 (Huffman): Groundwater Management Plans
- AB 376 (Fong, Huffman): Shark Fins
- AB 380 (Chesbro): Resources Watersheds
- AB 591 (Wieckowski): Oil and Gas Production: Hydraulic Fracturing
- AB 650 (Blumenfield): Blue Ribbon Task Force on Public Transportation
- AB 685 (Eng): State Water Policy
- AB 703 (Gordon): Preserving Tax Incentives for Open-Space and Parks
- AB 796 (Blumenfield): Clean Energy Financing
- AB 837 (Nestande): Solid Waste: Plastic Food and Beverage Containers
- AB 938 (V. M. Perez): Translation of Drinking Water Violations
- AB 1221 (Alejo): State Water Quality Control Fund: State Water Pollution Cleanup and Abatement Account
- AB 1319 (Butler): Product Safety: Bisphenol A
- SB 244 (Wolk): Land use: general plan: disadvantaged unincorporated communities
- SB 263 (Pavley): Wells: Reports: Public Availability
- SB 454 (Pavley): Energy Efficiency Standards Enforcement
- SB 468 (Kehoe): Department of Transportation: Coastal Zone State Highway Projects
- SB 535 (De Leon): California Communities Healthy Air Revitalization Trust
- SB 568 (Lowenthal): The Sustainable Take-Out Food Packaging Bill
- SB 580 (Wolk): State Park Protection
- SB 833 (Vargas): Water Quality Protection in San Diego County
Our fight is not over yet. Now we need to pass these pro-environmental bills through their second houses (Assembly bills by the Senate and Senate bills by the Assembly) and then make sure Governor Brown signs all of them into law.
Together, we can ensure all of our priority bills make it past their next hurdles and are signed into law, protecting California’s environment for many generations to come.