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Recap and Update on California's Special Legislative Session


Guest blogger: Callie Hanft, Government Relations Director, California

As you likely remember, in July California’s legislative leadership introduced an original package of 6 tobacco control and reform bills for consideration in response to Governor Brown’s call for the Extraordinary Session on Health Care. The original 6 bills have both a Senate and an Assembly version with mirrored language, in hopes the two versions can be passed out of their respective houses and on to the Governor quickly.

On August 19th the Senate versions of our original 6 tobacco control package were heard in the Senate Public Health and Developmental Services Committee and all 6 successfully passed! The bills then quickly moved to the Senate Finance Committee, successfully passed the second committee, and then were moved to the Senate Floor on August 24th. On August 27th, all 6 bills were heard on the Senate Floor and also passed the Senate vote.  The Senate versions of the bill then headed to the Assembly for a similar process on the Assembly side.

Almost simultaneously, the Assembly versions the original 6 bills were introduced in the Assembly Public Health and Developmental Services Committee on August 24th and were passed, and now have made it to the Finance Committee soon. Currently there is not a scheduled hearing for the Assembly Finance Committee. Our Senate versions of the original 6 also have not been scheduled for a hearing.

As noted in the Save Lives California Lobby Day post, Senator Pan announced introduction of legislation to increase California’s state tobacco tax by $2 per pack of cigarettes and an equivalent amount on other tobacco products including electronic smoking devices, snus, cigars, etc. This late addition will bring our tobacco control package to 7 bills purposefully introduced during this Extraordinary Session to comprehensively combat the ill-effects tobacco use has on our state to protect our youth and to save California’s health care system.

As you can see, things have been and will continue to move fast and furious and we will continue to need your support! Please keep on the lookout for calls to action in the very near future.

In summary, the Legislature is evaluating the following bills during the extraordinary session:

  1. SB 5 X2 (Sen. Leno)/ AB 6 X2 (Asm. Cooper) would regulate use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or e-cigs) in California. It specifically defines e-cigs as tobacco products, therefore regulating e-cigs the same as all other tobacco products.
  2. SB 6 X2 (Sen. Monning)/ AB 7 X2 (Asm. Stone) would close current loopholes in smoke-free workplace laws, including hotel lobbies, small businesses, break rooms, and tobacco retailers. In 1994, California led the nation when it passed a smoke-free workplace law. More than 20 years later, this law is now outdated with loopholes that need to be closed. 
  3. SB 7 X2 (Sen. Ed Hernandez)/ AB 8 X2 (Asm. Wood)  would increase age of sale for tobacco products to 21. It is estimated that 90% of tobacco users start prior to age 21, and 80% of lifetime users start before the age of 18. By increasing the legal purchasing age to 21, this bill intends to prevent and severely restrict youth access to these highly addictive and deadly products
  4. SB 8 X2 (Sen. Liu)/ AB 9 X2 (Assembly members Thurmond and Nazarian) would require all schools to be tobacco free. Current legislation allows some school districts exemptions from tobacco-free policies, but this bill would close all gaps by requiring that all districts adopt 100% tobacco-free policies. 
  5. SB 9 X2 (Sen. McGuire)/ AB 10 X2 (Asm. Bloom) would allow local jurisdictions to tax tobacco. This bill would allow counties to levy taxes on tobacco distributers.  It would be subject to the usual rules for the adoption of such taxes.
  6. SB 10 X2 (Sen. Beall) / AB 11 X2 (Asm. Nazarian) would establish an annual Board of Equalization (BOE) tobacco licensing fee program that will require tobacco retailers to reapply for tobacco licenses on an annual basis.
  7. SB X2-13 (Senators Pan and Hernandez)/AB X2-16 (Assembly members Bonta and Thurmond) would increase the price of a pack of cigarettes by $2 and impose a similar tax on all other tobacco products.

If you have any questions or want to get involved, please contact Kula Koenig at (916) 431-2331 or myself at (916) 431-2372.

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