Capitol Corner Update
House of Origin Deadline
With the first official day of summer occurring on June 20th and California reopening on June 15th, it’s time to address one of the key deadlines that occurs in the legislative process: the house of origin deadline. This deadline occurred on June 4th this year and is a good measurement of what bills are moving through the legislative process for this session. The house of origin, or the location where a bill was introduced, has a deadline every year. This deadline requires the respective house to vote and move bills introduced in their body to the other house or the bill is considered “dead”. However, as mentioned in my previous update, this is the first of two years in the 2021-2022 legislative session, meaning bills that do not pass the house of origin can still be heard and moved next year without reintroduction (unless the bill was voted down by the legislature).
CALBO continues to be a fierce advocate for the needs of our members in Sacramento. CALBO took positions on many bills at the beginning of this legislative session, but after the various legislative deadlines, only four bills remain for this year. I am happy to share with you another major win for the CALBO legislative team and our members that occurred in May. Due to CALBO’s advocacy efforts, our most significant bill fight, SB 617 died in the Senate Appropriations Committee and will not be moving any further for this legislative session. This was a huge victory for CALBO as this bill would have mandated an automated permitting system for residential solar energy systems. With that said, CALBO still has two important measures we are still fighting in Sacramento and hope this winning streak can continue.
AB 1124 by Assemblymember Friedman from the greater Los Angeles area is our next legislative fight that CALBO is handling in Sacramento. This bill would redefine a solar energy system to include “any structural design feature by eliminating the provision that it be a feature of a building”. This bill would specify that certain structural design features be included in the definition of solar energy systems including solar racking, solar mounting, and elevated support structures, regardless of whether the feature is on the ground or a building. CALBO has concerns that this new definition could impact building department fees on some larger-scale solar energy systems as it would include fee caps on these larger projects that tend to have more significant costs for life-safety plan checks. Additionally, by changing the definition via the legislative process as opposed to the regulatory process, CALBO has concerns it could lead to even more concerning future legislation regarding these types of systems. Can you imagine an automated permitting requirement for a large-scale solar carport or a massive solar farm?
CALBO has been working closely with the sponsors of the bill and the author’s office to find amendments that would allow plan check fees to match the costs associated with these safety checks. Additionally, CALBO has tried to add in the definition of smaller systems including roof-mounted or ground-mounted solar energy systems. CALBO does not feel like larger scale columns or steel structures should be included in a new definition given that these types of systems are significantly different from smaller-scale residential solar energy systems. Unfortunately, the sponsors do not feel these amendments should be accepted.
CALBO supports the idea of clarifying the definitions associated with AB 1414 (Friedman, 2017) which capped permit fees for technology that is integrated with a building but does not feel that expanding these definitions to these other systems is good policy. Nor does CALBO believe that the original bill intended to include solar carport structures for fee caps. CALBO will continue to work closely with the stakeholders and local government to find common ground on the language associated with this bill. Our coalition includes several local government partners including the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), and the Urban Counties of California (UCC). CALBO, along with our local government partners, continue to bring concerns and amendments forward and hope that we can find common ground on the bill.
Another priority bill is AB 970, which would require a city, county, or city and county, to deem an application for an electric vehicle charging station complete after 20 days if a building official has not determined that it would harm public health or safety. CALBO appreciates the language that allows building officials to determine the safety implications of these complicated systems but wants to make sure it is for singular residential charging stations only and does not include extensive projects for multiple charging stations in, perhaps, a retail parking lot or older apartment complexes. Currently, CALBO is opposed to the bill until we receive clarifying language that it will be a single charger in a single residential complex. We have joined a coalition of local government stakeholders to oppose this bill and CALBO hopes to remove opposition if we can find common ground on the bill. CALBO supports California’s laudable goals relative to climate change and wants to be a part of these efforts while keeping in mind public safety.
Here are our a few more priority bills that the CALBO Legislative Team wants to share with you:
- AB 1010: This bill would require architects, as a condition of license renewal, to participate in 5 hours of coursework regarding net-zero design. This bill is sponsored by our partners at the American Institute of Architects California Council (AIACC) and will allow design professionals to learn the most up-to-date knowledge of best practices regarding net-zero carbon design. Additionally, this training could serve as a reminder of the safety standards needed in development while balancing the ecological solutions to address climate change in California. Due to these implications and the shared goals of addressing climate change in the state, CALBO is proud to support this piece of legislation. This bill is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
- AB 1329: This bill would require the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) to develop, adopt, and publish building standards that would require a functional recovery standard for the construction of new buildings to respond to earthquake loads. CALBO supports the idea of developing these safety standards in California but does not want to step on the toes of the CBSC, so we are neutral without a position on this bill. CALBO has been working closely with the Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC) to fine-tune language in the bill and will continue these conversations as the bill moves through the legislative process. Currently, the bill is in the Senate Committee on Housing.
For a full listing of legislative items of interest to CALBO members, please check out our All Bills Report on the CALBO website. There are several notable measures of high interest to CALBO and our stakeholders, which is why we have kept them on our radar and are actively monitoring their progress.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to continuing to advocate for our members in Sacramento and sincerely appreciate your continued support.