The California Legislature in 2018 cranked out 1,016 pieces of legislation that Gov. Brown signed into law. Number of bills vetoed? 201. (For those keeping track, note that Brown rejected bills at a much higher clip his second time around as governor.)
Here are some of the most important environmental and health changes coming in 2019:
SB 100: The long road to 100 percent clean energy
It was, in many ways, the defining environmental law of the year: a groundbreaking mandate for generating 100 percent of the state's electricity from solar, wind and other non-fossil sources by 2045. Now comes the hard part: actually doing it. Legislators have already passed a rash of environmental legislation to begin meeting these goals, including an increase in incentives for solar panels, more restrictions on hydrofluorocarbons, and an extension of the state's cap-and-trade system to 2030.
SB 901, et al: Wildfire mitigation
In September, Brown signed a package of bills in response to the massive wildfires of the last few years. The main bill, SB 901, requires utilities to implement fire prevention plans and upgrade equipment. It also creates incentives for landowners to reduce excess fuel and remove dead trees, and sets aside $1 billion for forest management over the next five years. Controversially, the negotiated deal allows PG&E to pass on to consumers some of the cost it may incur if it's found liable for the 2017 fires. The two- dozen or so fire prevention bills Brown signed include rules making it easier for private landowners to conduct controlled burns, rules requiring garage door openers to have backup batteries in case of electrical outages, and a clarification that insurers must cover losses due to landslides and mudslides if those calamities resulted mainly from a separate, insured catastrophe like fire.
Gov. Brown signed two bills to stem offshore drilling, in response to the Trump administration's push to open nearly the entire U.S. coastline to offshore oil leasing in federal waters. The companion bills prevent any new leases for construction of oil or gas infrastructure like pipelines or piers in state waters or tidal lands as of Jan. 1, which would ostensibly prevent any oil from coming ashore.
AB 1274: Smog check exemption
Previously, cars six model-years old or newer could forego a smog-check. The new law extends that exemption to cars eight years old or newer. During the last two of those eight years, the smog abatement fee will jump to $25 from $20.
AB 544: HOV stickers for zero-emission cars
- Stickers issued before Jan. 1, 2017 expire on Jan. 1, 2019.
- Stickers issued to new cars after Jan. 1, 2019 are valid for three full years and then until Jan. 1 of their fourth year.
- Drivers issued stickers in 2017 and 2018 will be able to apply for a new sticker in 2019 that is valid until Jan. 1, 2022.
In addition, drivers that receive the state's Clean Vehicle Rebate, which can be several thousand dollars, won’t be eligible for HOV lane stickers unless their gross annual income falls below $150,000 for a single tax filer, $204,000 for a head of household and $300,000 for joint filers.
Here is the California Air Resources Board list of vehicles, going back to 1997, that are eligible for carpool stickers.
These laws don't go into effect in 2019, but their passage in 2018 was an important part of Gov. Brown's push to make water conservation "a way of life." SB 606 and AB 1668 collectively require the state to establish new efficiency standards for water use by 2022 and mandate that local agencies devise drought and water-shortage plans. The bills also set indoor residential use at 55 gallons per person per day, incrementally reducing that number after Jan. 1, 2025. Basically, this year, you might want to start getting used to using less water and more water- efficient appliances.