Environmental Law

Envt'l Law News Spring 2018, Vol. 27, No. 1

The 2017 Environmental Legislative Recap: Facing an Unprecedented Risk to California’s Environmental Legacy

by Gary Lucks*

As the legislative session began, California faced an unprecedented assault on its environmental legacy from President Trump and his controversial Environmental Protection Agency Secretary, Scott Pruitt. In his 2017 State-of-the State message, Governor Brown responded: "California is not turning back. Not now, not ever." He was joined by Speaker of the Assembly, Anthony Rendon who remarked that "California does not need healing. [It] need [s]to fight." Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon led the fight with Senate bill (SB) 49, SB 50, and SB 51 to protect California’s environmental legacy; however only one of those bills—SB 51—was signed by the Governor.

Nonetheless, the 2016-2017 legislative session was bountiful and included several significant new laws on environmental quality, land use, and natural resources. Governor Brown signed 859 new laws compared to 930 in the 2015-2016 Legislative session while vetoing 188 bills. Capping the list of achievements was a major transportation infrastructure spending bill; a comprehensive package of new laws designed to tackle California’s critical housing shortage; a ten-year extension of California’s signature climate change law; and a major parks bond scheduled for a vote in November. Except for budget-related urgency bills that passed by a supermajority (which took effect upon approval), newly enacted laws became effective on January 1, 2018.

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