During 2021, 2,776 bills were introduced in Sacramento, despite a suggested 12-bill limit for each Assemblymember. The legislation we reviewed involved some of the most consequential issues facing California.
Hot topics this year ranged from health care affordability, homelessness and housing, to the environment, the economy, criminal justice and much more. Since most bills fail to pass, the most significant results often involve failed legislation, and this year was no different. Bills to legalize psychedelic drugs, to allow criminal offenders to have their records expunged, to overhaul the bail system, to establish a single-payer health care system, all failed.
Housing-related legislation, which created a great deal of controversy, was aimed at easing the housing shortage by eliminating single-family zoning in many areas. Duplexes will be allowed in some areas, with up to four units on lots previously zoned single-family. Near transit zones, up to 10 units will be allowed on some single- family lots.
The largest budget in history passed in June, a record $232.6 billion. That included $4 billion for small businesses to help them recover from the pandemic, $7 billion in subsidies to help people who couldn’t pay their rent or utility bills, along with $600 stimulus payments for most residents who lost jobs and income as a direct result of the pandemic. A huge $31 billion surplus is projected next year.
The state has spent $13 billion on homelessness since 2018, yet our homeless population has increased 24%. The budget for 2021-22 allotted another $12 billion over the next three years to address the problem, including $2.75 billion to buy hotels, motels and commercial buildings to reduce the growing homeless population.
Much is unresolved, and problems persist despite vast amounts of spending. When we reconvene in January, we’ll be taking another close look at many of these monumental issues.