Public Law

Public Law Journal: Fall 2014, Vol. 37, No. 4

Legislative Update

By Kenneth J. Price*

The 2013-2014 legislative calendar has come and gone. The Legislature and the Governor were busy this year. One newspaper described the Governor as being on a "bill-signing spree" over the last month, considering nearly 800 bills and signing many of them.

In comparison to last year, this legislative cycle included some very high profile new laws, most of which had very little to do with the nuts and bolts issues faced by public lawyers. For example, the Governor signed a bill by Senator Alex Padilla making California the first state in the nation to ban single-use plastic bags. The bags will be phased out of large grocery stores by July 2015 and from convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. No good bag ban goes unpunished, however, because the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a bagging industry trade group, has announced its intent to collect more than a half-million signatures for an initiative to reverse the statewide plastic bag ban.

The focus of this Legislative Update is the passage of three significant bills that I have been updating you on over the last year on groundwater management regulations or what I fondly refer to as the "Governmental Lawyer Protection Act of 2014." These three laws, which are intended to create a new plan for groundwater monitoring, will have a significant impact on counties, cities and special districts throughout California. In so doing, they will create a lot of work for attorneys, engineers, hydro-geologists and local and state bureaucrats alike. The one question is whether they will achieve the desired effect – preserving and conserving groundwater.

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