Publication: Los Angeles Times
The new two-year session of the California Legislature began Monday as legislators took the oath of office under some of the most unusual circumstances in state history, quickly compiling an urgent to-do list addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on housing, schools and the economy.
Though the agenda for convening newly elected and returning lawmakers was familiar, the setting was not.
The 80 members of the state Assembly held their organizing session seven blocks from the state Capitol inside Golden 1 Center, home to the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. The event marked the first time either house has convened outside of the state Capitol since the building’s six-year restoration ended in 1981.
Only a few pieces of legislation were formally introduced Monday; most of the work will begin in early January. Even so, the initial legislation offered a glimpse at an agenda to tackle both short-term and systemic problems laid bare by the worsening COVID-19 pandemic and community shutdowns.
With millions of California children facing the prospect of most or all of the school year being conducted remotely, lawmakers will look for ways to standardize the procedures for when to open and how to provide the money to do so safely.
Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill Monday that would require school districts to reopen campuses when community infection rates drop.
Throughout the fall, school leaders took varying approaches toward resuming limited in-person instruction when their counties moved into the less-restrictive public health tiers established by the Newsom administration. As a result, schools in neighboring communities sometimes made conflicting decisions about whether to open. ...