After eight months, California’s legislative session is coming to a close this week with a final flurry of frantic activity. Lawmakers are rushing to pass hundreds of remaining bills before the clock strikes midnight Wednesday, when they must gavel down for the year.

Contentious fights are playing out over vaccination rights for teenagers, online privacy protections, union elections for farmworkers and a package of climate legislation sought by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Other high-profile measures aim to establish California as a progressive leader on hot-button national issues such as abortion access, concealed carry permits for handguns and transgender health care for minors. These votes are taking place as campaigns ramp up for 100 of the 120 seats in the Legislature. 

For those proposals that make it through the gantlet, a final decision awaits on the governor’s desk. Newsom has until the end of September to either sign or veto the bills — and his choices will likely be more closely watched than ever this year as speculation builds about whether he is positioning himself to run for president.

Among the interesting and consequential bills that CalMatters is tracking:

Jerry Sandoval with his daughter Ariel in their living room in Chula Vista on March 13, 2022. Photo by Ariana Drehsler for CalMatters

By Jeanne Kuang

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 951 by Los Angeles Democratic Sen. Maria Elena Duraz  increases payments to workers from the state’s disability and paid family leave programs. Starting in 2025, workers who earn less than about $27,000 a year would be paid 90% of their regular wages, an increase from the current 70%. Other workers also would get a boost, receiving 70% instead of 60% of their wages. The bill would offset some of these costs by removing a cap on workers’ contributions to the program, which currently shields earnings above $145,600.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Groups supporting workers’ rights, child and maternal health, gender equity, retirees, and benefits for low-income Californians are pushing for the bill. 

WHO’S OPPOSED

No one officially. Last year, Newsom vetoed a similar bill over the costs, but his administration’s been silent on this year’s version. The Department of Finance in August declined to take a position. 

WHY IT MATTERS

Supporters say few low-income workers can afford the 30% to 40% pay cut to take time off for a disability or to care for a new child or sick family member. From 2017 to 2019, leave claims by workers making less than $20,000 a year declined while they rose for all other workers — increasing the most for those making $100,000 and above, according to the Employment Development Department. And under current law, lower-earning workers contribute a greater share of their paychecks to the program than higher earners because of the cap on taxing incomes above $145,600. More immediately, without this bill the current amount of benefits is set to expire and would return to 55% of a worker’s wages in January.

Fast-food workers protest outside of a Jack in the Box restaurant in Sacramento on April 28, 2022. Photo by Alejandro Lazo, CalMatters
Fast-food workers protest outside of a Jack in the Box restaurant in Sacramento on April 28, 2022. Photo by Alejandro Lazo, CalMatters

By Jeanne Kuang

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

AB 257 creates a state-run council to set labor standards across the fast food sector, including on wages, safety and other workplace conditions. The council would consist of fast food workers, their advocates, restaurant owners, fast food corporations and the state’s labor and business departments. Assemblymember Chris Holden, a Pasadena Democrat, carried the bill.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

The Service Employees International Union and its Fight for $15 campaign for low-wage workers, the California Labor Federation and other unions backed the bill. 

WHO’S OPPOSED

A swath of business and restaurant groups representing individual franchise owners and corporate chains, including a number of minority chambers of commerce, opposed it. 

WHY IT MATTERS

The bill is a first-in-the-nation attempt by a state to regulate a broad range of working conditions across an industry that this year employed roughly 700,000 Californians. It’s also labor’s foothold toward bargaining power for a low-wage workforce that has been difficult to unionize because of widespread franchise ownership. Business groups say California’s labor laws already are onerous, and new regulations would raise costs at a time of record inflation and threaten a business model that has allowed many minority entrepreneurs to advance.

Abandoned businesses at a Fresno strip mall on Aug. 25, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local
Abandoned businesses at a Fresno strip mall on Aug. 25, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local

By Manuela Tobias

WHAT THE TWO BILLS WOULD DO

AB 2011, by Democratic Assemblymember Buffy Wicks of Oakland, would fast-track housing development along the ubiquitous strip malls that flank California’s roads. In order to skip lengthy and costly local review processes, including the much-dreaded California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, developers would pay their workers union-level wages and in bigger projects, offer apprenticeships and health benefits, and cap at least a portion of rents. Apartments would have to be either 100% affordable or mixed-use, meaning market-rate but affordable to at least 15% of lower income earners, or 8% of very low income and 5% of extremely low income earners.
SB 6, by Democratic Sen. Anna Caballero of Salinas, would bypass the first step in permitting housing on commercial real estate while allowing other opportunities for local input, like CEQA. It applies to a much wider swath of land and doesn’t cap rents, but developers must use at least some union labor on every project. If at least two union shops don’t bid on the project, union-level wages kick in.

WHO SUPPORTS THEM

The Building and Construction Trades, an umbrella union of nearly a million workers, and the bigger Labor Federation behind them, support SB 6, while the state carpenters union and affordable housing developers backed AB 2011. The bigger unions dropped their lethal opposition to AB 2011 once the Assembly and Senate struck a deal that let both bills through. Pro-housing Yes in My Backyard activists, or YIMBYs, who have been trying to increase density through similar measures for years, are among the proposal’s loudest cheerleaders.

WHO’S OPPOSED

Dozens of cities and local control advocates say the bills take away critical neighborhood input to development decisions and worry local governments may lose tax revenue from commercial properties. The Assembly bill, which razes more neighborhood forums, has a longer list of opponents. Equity groups who originally pushed for higher affordability requirements in both bills had to settle for less, while developers worry the labor and affordability standards will be too high to meet.

WHY IT MATTERS

California needs 2.5 million more homes by 2030 and almost no one wants them in their backyard. These bills would unlock a glut of empty stores, offices and parking lots for as many as 1.6 million housing units — market conditions permitting — without contributing to urban sprawl. The labor truce also matters: Following years of heated debate and dead bills, unions put their differences aside, at least for this year.

Social media applications on a smartphone screen. Photo via iStock Photo
Social media applications on a smartphone screen. Photo via iStock Photo

By Grace Gedye

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

If AB 2273 is signed into law, businesses that provide online services or products likely to be accessed by kids under 18 would have to provide greater privacy protections by default starting in 2024. For example, the bill would generally prohibit companies from collecting, selling, sharing, or keeping kids’ personal information other than to provide the service that the kid is actively interacting with. It was co-introduced by a bipartisan group of Assemblymembers: Democrats Buffy Wicks from Oakland and Cottie Petrie-Norris from Costa Mesa and Republican Jordan Cunningham from San Luis Obispo. The state attorney general could bring civil lawsuits to enforce the measure.  

WHO SUPPORTS IT

A long list of consumer, tech, and children advocacy groups who argue technology is harming kids, and say a similar law has already spurred positive changes in the United Kingdom. The bill was sponsored by Common Sense media, a non-profit that reviews entertainment and technology for families and schools, and 5Rights Foundation, a UK non-profit whose founder led the charge on a similar law now in place in the UK. It’s also backed by California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the former head of monetization at Facebook.

WHO IS OPPOSED

Trade groups for businesses and tech companies, including California Chamber of Commerce, and TechNet, which counts among its members Google, Airbnb, Meta (formerly known as Facebook), Snap, and other major tech companies. They say the bill is overly broad, and that setting privacy regulations state-by-state could create confusion for businesses. 

WHY IT MATTERS

It would be a first-in-the-nation law requiring broad privacy protections online for children under 18, and would represent yet another step California has taken to lead privacy regulation.

The Kettleman City Power solar farm on July 27, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local
The Kettleman City Power solar farm. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local

By Nadia Lopez

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 1020, authored by state Sen. John Laird, a Democrat from Santa Cruz, sets interim targets for generating clean energy. The current law already requires 100% of retail electricity to be fueled by renewables such as wind and solar by 2045. This change requires 90% by 2035 and 95% by 2040. In addition, all state agencies must source their energy from 100% renewable sources by 2035, ten years sooner than the current law requires. 

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Gov. Gavin Newsom, environmental justice groups and The Utility Reform Network, a consumer advocacy group. Newsom has made this one of his top climate priorities this legislative session. 

WHO’S OPPOSED

The Western Electrical Contractors Association, a trade group, raised concern that the measure could increase energy costs, reduce competition in the energy market and “discriminate against otherwise qualified contractors.” State Sen. Brian Dahle, a Republican who is running against Newsom for governor, said the bill would set an arbitrary goal that could drive up rates and contribute to the state’s high cost of living.

WHY IT MATTERS 

California’s fight against climate change requires a massive shift away from fossil fuels. The bill sets phased-in targets to assist the state’s transition to 100% renewable energy. Accelerating greenhouse gas cuts is essential to meeting the state’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2045. 

 

A person receives the COVID-19 vaccine on their arm.
A COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Oakland. Photo by Marissa Leshnov for CalMatters

By Ana B. Ibarra

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

AB 2098 would make it easier for the Medical Board of California to punish doctors who deliberately spread false information about COVID-19, vaccines and treatments. The bill, authored by Cupertino Democrat Evan Low, would classify disinformation as “unprofessional conduct,” allowing the board to take action. Discipline could include a public reprimand, probation, suspension, or license revocation. 

WHO SUPPORTS IT

The bill is supported by doctor groups including the California Medical Association, the California chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Emergency Physicians. The groups argue that COVID disinformation is dangerous and undermines public health efforts.

WHO’S OPPOSED

Some individual doctors and groups like A Voice for Choice Advocacy argue that the bill infringes on doctors’ free speech and that physicians should be allowed to share their professional opinions without fear of repercussions. 

WHY IT MATTERS

The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and the virus has killed more than 94,000 people in California. COVID disinformation has been linked to vaccine hesitancy and in some cases has popularized unproven treatments. Since early in the pandemic, California has dealt with its share of doctors who have made false claims about the virus. Disinformation can have serious consequences. For example, last year the nations’ poison control centers saw a spike in calls after people reported taking ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug for animals, to cure COVID-19 after being persuaded by false information shared by influential people on the internet. 

Police officers in Balwin Park on Aug. 6, 2019. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Police officers in Balwin Park on Aug. 6, 2019. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

By Ariel Gans

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 731 would, as of July 1, expand criminal record relief for all felonies, not just jailable felonies, if an individual is no longer serving a probationary sentence, not currently involved in another case, and two years have elapsed. It would exclude crimes requiring the offender to register as a sex offender. Criminal records must be disclosed to school districts, which can use those records for deciding teacher credentialing or employment.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

A long list of criminal justice reform and rehabilitation organizations are supporting the bill, including Californians for Safety and Justice, who sponsored it. Supporters say that criminal records are serious barriers to the successful reentry of formerly incarcerated individuals to society. These barriers appear when, for example, individuals look for housing, pursue careers in education or healthcare, want to coach a sports team, adopt a child or care for their grandparent. Supporters say poor and Black and Latino residents are disproportionately affected.

WHO’S OPPOSED

Law enforcement and medical groups make up the majority of the bill’s opponents, including the Peace Officers Research Association of California. It argues that dismissing records for violent criminals will reduce deterrents for repeat offenders and jeopardize public safety. The group says it would have supported the bill if it excluded violent criminals.

WHY IT MATTERS

Nearly one in three adults in California have a past arrest or conviction on their record, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. While many cases are never prosecuted, these incidents remain on an individual’s record until they are 100 years old in California. These records, when they appear in background checks, can block access to employment and housing, which are primary factors driving recidivism, costing California $20 billion annually.

A man sits in his wheelchair down a long nursing home hallway. The California Department of Public Health faced tough questions about its oversight of nursing homes at an informational hearing Tuesday in front of the Assembly Health Committee. Image via iStock
The California Department of Public Health has faced tough questions about its oversight of nursing homes. Image via iStock

By Jocelyn Wiener

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

AB 1502 would close certain loopholes preventing people from purchasing nursing homes before they have licenses to run them. The bill followed a series of CalMatters’ stories exposing the problems caused by these loopholes, which have allowed owners to operate homes while license applications are in yearslong pending status, or even when the licenses have been outright denied. The bill, carried by Democratic Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi of Torrance and Jim Wood of Santa Rosa, would also institute time limits to prevent such delays.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Several advocacy organizations for nursing home residents, including the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine, support this bill. The California Department of Public Health was involved in drafting more recent versions of the bill.

WHO’S OPPOSED

The bill’s original sponsor, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, yanked its support for the bill after it was amended earlier in the year and has since voiced strong opposition. The group contends that it has been gutted and now serves as a lifeline to problematic nursing home owners.

WHY IT MATTERS

Some 10,000 California nursing home residents died during the pandemic. Advocates on both sides of the bill have for years called for reform of the licensing system. They want to see better state oversight of who owns and operates nursing homes in the state.

Condenser microphone on a boom stand in a music studio. Photo via iStock Photo
Condenser microphone on a boom stand in a music studio. Photo via iStock Photo

By Nigel Duara

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

AB 2799 would require prosecutors who want to use “creative expressions” as evidence of a crime to hold a pretrial hearing away from the jury to prove that rap lyrics or other artistic expression are relevant to the case. The bill by Democratic Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles would require judges to balance the value of the evidence with the “undue prejudice” and racial bias possible when that evidence is presented to a jury. 

WHO SUPPORTS IT 

The bill has enjoyed broad support as it sailed unopposed through both houses. The California Attorneys for Criminal Justice cited the 2019 book “Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America,” which they say proves that prosecutors use rap lyrics and other forms of expression to imply a defendant’s guilt, They contend such usage plays on a jury’s racial bias and a belief that what someone said in a song is also a true accounting of the crime with which they’re charged. 

WHO’S OPPOSED

There’s no official opposition to the bill, though the original version from Jones-Sawyer only called for a judge to instruct the jury to treat artistic expressions with “caution and close scrutiny.” A revised version from the Senate calls for an entirely separate hearing, away from the jury. 

WHY IT MATTERS

This bill is about rap lyrics and the book “Rap on Trial.” In one study mentioned in the book and by California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, two groups of people were read identical lyrics. One group was told they were from a country song, the other was told they were from rap. Participants rated the lyrics they were told was rap as more offensive and more likely to be true to life. In 2021, a Contra Costa man was convicted of murder after an expert prosecution witness testified that the man’s repeating of rap lyrics from popular songs was a confession to his own alleged crimes. He was sentenced to life in prison. 

Members and supporters of the United Farm Workers march through Fresno during day 10 of their 24-day march on Aug. 12, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local
Members and supporters of the United Farm Workers march through Fresno during day 10 of their 24-day march on Aug. 12, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local

By Jeanne Kuang

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

AB 2183 would allow farmworkers to vote in union elections by mail, rather than the current system that requires in-person elections, which usually take place on a farm owner’s property. Assemblymember Mark Stone, a Santa Cruz Democrat, carried the bill. It gives agricultural employers two options for union drives: They could select a “labor peace” process in which they pledge to remain neutral during a union election, during which farmworkers could choose to receive and submit ballots by mail from the Agricultural Labor Relations Board; or if growers do not agree to neutrality, workers could unionize via a “card check” process in which growers must recognize the union if a majority of workers sign cards expressing interest.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

The United Farm Workers and other labor groups say the bill protects agricultural workers from interference and intimidation when voting in union elections. More than half of California’s farmworkers are undocumented, and they often live on their employers’ land. The UFW says under the current, more rigid voting system, growers hearing of unionization efforts have called immigration authorities on organizing workers.

WHO’S OPPOSED

Business groups, including the Western Growers Association, said the proposal opens the door for unions to request ballots for workers, influence their votes and “force” unionization. Newsom says he’s opposed, though the bill has been amended to include provisions he supports after he vetoed a similar bill last year. 

His main sticking point: that the bill allows workers to request union ballots before growers are notified there will be an election.

WHY IT MATTERS

The bill is an effort to ease the path toward collective bargaining – and potentially higher wages – for the 400,000-member California agricultural workforce. Union representation among California’s farmworkers has dwindled to statistically zero, UC Merced researchers found, and a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year effectively kicked union organizers off growers’ property. 

Student housing at Fresno State on Feb. 8, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela for CalMatters
Student housing at Fresno State. Photo by Larry Valenzuela for CalMatters

By Mikhail Zinshteyn

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 886 by Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, would excuse public college and university housing from regulations of the  California Environmental Quality Act, a 1970s-era law that developers deplore but that environmental groups and some cities champion as a safeguard against pollution. The bill is meant to address the chronic student housing crisis by sparing development from environmental lawsuits that in the past have slowed down dorm construction. Campus projects for student and faculty housing would have to check off a long list of environmental and labor-relations musts to evade CEQA’s, which cities and community groups cite in lawsuits to challenge development. Housing projects would have to be on campus-owned land and not displace affordable housing.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

A vast constellation of student groups, labor unions, business organizations and “YIMBY” activists who support more housing development. They view the bill as vital to protecting much-needed housing development from environmental lawsuits. They argue the bill will lead to more dorm beds faster.

WHO’S OPPOSED

Some environmental justice groups, the city and county where UC Santa Cruz is located, a town adjacent to UC Santa Barbara and three state Democrats who cast the only dissenting votes against the bill. The barrier to more student housing is poor university planning and insufficient funding, the California Environmental Justice Alliance argued.

WHY IT MATTERS

Is CEQA the bogeyman it’s made out to be? Opponents of this bill point to research showing that only 2% of housing development projects face CEQA lawsuits. But the environmental law was catapulted into national prominence when UC Berkeley was almost forced to cut its new class of students by a third until state lawmakers bailed out the campus with another CEQA exemption in March. Backers and foes of this bill say they want the same thing: more student housing. They just don’t agree on how to get there or that this watershed environmental law is the culprit. 

A correctional officer walks near one of two entrances into Kern Valley State Prison, in Delano on June 14, 2005. Photo by Ric Francis, AP Photo
A correctional officer walks near one of two entrances to Kern Valley State Prison in Delano. Photo by Ric Francis, AP

By Nigel Duara

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Assembly Bill 2632 from Democratic Assemblymember Chris Holden of Pasadena would overhaul how California prisons treat inmates in solitary confinement. They would no longer be held in solitary for longer than 15 consecutive days, or 45 days in a 180-day period. The bill would also prohibit the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from putting certain groups in solitary confinement, including inmates younger than 26 or older than 59, pregnant people or those with mental or physical disabilities.  

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Civil liberties groups, immigration advocates and a constellation of criminal justice reform groups, including the California Public Defenders Association. A federal judge has ruled that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has systematically violated the due process rights of inmates, and continues to ignore a 2015 settlement between the state and two Pelican Bay State Prison inmates held in solitary confinement for decades based on their perceived gang affiliations.

WHO’S OPPOSED

The people operating prisons and the Security Housing Units within them. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association wrote in a letter of opposition that forcing violent inmates back into the general prison population will lead to more violence, both to inmates and prison guards. “Inmates who have attempted, or succeeded in, murdering their cellmates would be let right back into the population they pose a risk to.”

WHY IT MATTERS

Solitary confinement is the Wild West of carceral regulations – there aren’t many rules in place, so prisons set many of their own. Horror stories abound from California and elsewhere of people kept for years in solitary confinement, getting perhaps two hours of time outside their cell a day with little contact with the outside world. The bill would also extend its regulations to private California prisons that house federal inmates or immigration detainees.

Students walk through campus at Sacramento City College on Feb. 23, 2022. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters
Students walk through campus at Sacramento City College on Feb. 23, 2022. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters

By Mikhail Zinshteyn

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Assembly Bill 1705 continues California’s efforts to ensure more community college students enroll in classes required to transfer to a UC or Cal State campus. The bill, by Democratic Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin of Camarillo, would order community colleges to enroll most students in a transfer-level math and English course if their program requires those subjects. It would exempt short-term credentials that have industry-specific math requirements and adult programs that don’t require a math or English course (think: basic office software or fire-resilient landscaping), among other carve-outs. 

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Pretty much everyone but faculty. The bill received not a single dissenting vote from lawmakers. Its champions include the Chancellor’s Office of the California Community Colleges system, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, various think tanks and a few individual community colleges.  

WHO’S OPPOSED

Faculty unions, associations and the academic senate, plus Mt. San Antonio College, who fault it for being too prescriptive. Faculty groups also say the bill comes with no additional funding to hire more tutors who work alongside faculty to help students during class and give faculty more training.

WHY IT MATTERS

Until a few years ago, most community college students had to take remedial math and English. For many, their goal was to eventually transfer, so remedial courses were a key hurdle. Over time research chipped away at that logic: Students with high school grades who enrolled directly into transfer-level math and English courses were likelier to pass the courses in a year than if they took a remedial class first. Following a 2017 change in the law, most students started taking gateway courses to eventually get into a UC or CSU, but still thousands — 20% of first-time students — continue to take these remedial courses. In almost all cases, campuses couldn’t justify their policy of requiring that.

llustration by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters; iStock
llustration by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters; iStock

By Jocelyn Wiener

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

AB 988 would raise funds to support call centers and mobile crisis teams associated with the new three-digit federal mental health crisis hotline, also 988. The bill would attach a fee to cell phone lines.That fee has been lowered significantly in negotiations with the telecommunications industry, which in turn has dropped its opposition.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

The Steinberg Institute and The Kennedy Forum, co-sponsors of the bill, point to a rise in mental health needs, which has been further aggravated by the pandemic. They say the fee is an important way to make sure the services associated with the hotline are adequately funded.

WHO’S OPPOSED

The California Association of Health Plans is opposing the bill, saying amendments to it have created a broad new mandate on insurers without a chance for stakeholders to weigh in. County mental health directors and the union that represents county mental health employees called for the bill to be amended, saying they want private insurers to pitch in more, and that they fear implementation may be patchy and variable among counties without sufficient funding. 

WHY IT MATTERS

In July, the new federal 988 number debuted in California and across the country. The number, billed as an alternative to 911, is intended to make it easier for people experiencing mental health emergencies to tap into the state’s network of National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call centers. But to build out the system as envisioned, including providing mobile crisis response, proponents of the cell phone fee say the state needs ongoing funding.

A freshly dug grave awaits a burial at Rose Hill Memorial Park and Mortuary in Whittier on Jan 26, 2021. Photo by Mike Blake, Reuters
A freshly dug grave awaits a burial at Rose Hill Memorial Park and Mortuary in Whittier. Photo by Mike Blake, Reuters

By Sameea Kamal

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

After failed attempts in 2020 and 2021, a bill to legalize “natural organic reduction,” or turning bodies into soil as an after-death option was resurrected this year. AB 351, authored by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, a Democrat from Downey, establishes licensing and regulation processes for human composting. It would also require the state’s public health department to regulate the “reduction chambers” where it’s done to prevent the spread of disease. The regulation would be funded by a maximum fee of $8.50 per reduction — or per body — paid by licensed facilities to the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau.  

WHO SUPPORTS IT

The bill was supported by the environmental group Californians Against Waste and by two companies who offer sustainable burial services, Better Place Forests and Recompose. 

WHO’S OPPOSED 

The California Catholic Conference opposes the bill, saying that scattering the remains of multiple people in the same area is “tantamount to a mass grave.” 

WHY IT MATTERS

Garcia said the state needs more environmentally friendly burial options, since traditional methods put chemicals into the ground, or release carbon into the atmosphere. The National Funeral Directors Association estimates that about 67% of people were cremated in 2021 – and that number is expected to rise. Cremating one corpse can release almost 600 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Supporters of the bill say if each Californian opted to be composted after death, the carbon saved would be enough to power 225,000 homes for a year. It would take effect in 2027.



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