New Report on SB 49 – California Environment, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2017-2018

SB-49 was not voted on by the state legislature in 2017 but was instead held over for a vote in 2018 by Senator DeLeon, the author. It appears likely that this bill was carried over because it lacked the votes in the state assembly, where democratic assembly members from more-conservative districts did not support it. It was heavily lobbied against by the California Chamber of Commerce and other business groups. The key to passage in 2018 will be getting people in those districts to write letters supporting it to their assembly member. 

At the last minute, changes were made in the wording of SB49 that made state listing of federally delisted species subject to the approval of the California Fish and Game Commission and not automatic. These changes were made by a supporter of the bill, Assemblyman Mark Stone, to limit the exposure of the Department of Fish and Wildlife to lawsuits that would drain their operating budget to fight. An adverse consequence of these changes was to invest all power for listing in the Fish and Game Commissioners, who are political appointees, are drawn from the business and labor union communities, and could find themselves subject to intense political pressure from business or labor groups. To reduce this risk, we have proposed a one sentence addition to the bill that Assemblyman Stone said he would support. This sentence reads,

“However any determination by the Fish and Game Commission that the listing is not warranted must also be supported by new and conclusive biological evidence that the listing is not in compliance with the baseline federal standard.”

We believe that this change will insure that the Commission’s decision is based on sound biological science and not political pressure. We will be asking Senator DeLeon to amend the bill, and we will keep you posted.  Information on SB49 can be found at www.leginfo.legislature.ca.gov, just type in “SB49” in the search box. Article 3 of the bill deals with Endangered and Threatened Species.