New laws authored by Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) that will help better protect California’s water systems from earthquakes and ensure state taxpayers get prompt assistance and refunds when they are overcharged will take effect on Jan. 1.
Other legislation carried by Hertzberg will help ensure low-income Californians get legal assistance and require local governments to make public the types of data they are collecting.
“Water is a precious resource in California, and it’s imperative that we make sure our waterways are earthquake safe, and if not, take the proper steps to protect them,” Hertzberg said. “Senate Bill 664 aims to do that with important new reporting requirements for water officials.”
Aside from protecting water and improving government disclosure, Hertzberg has focused on providing Californians greater access to justice by enacting a traffic amnesty program, encouraging lawyers to work in public-interest law and making permanent a tax advocacy program.
“Every Californian deserves access to justice and fair treatment, regardless of their income level or background, and that’s what these new laws will help deliver,” Hertzberg said.
SB134 will help ensure low-income Californians have greater access to equal justice. This bill allows the use of certain unclaimed funds to help pay off loans for attorneys practicing public-interest law.
SB 239 pertains to contracts for fire protection. It will ensure residents and public officials have an opportunity to examine plans, costs and other financial estimates before local governments provide new or extended fire-protection services.
A new local government data law will now create an inventory of their key data-keeping systems, make that catalog publicly available online and list the types of data collected by those systems. Cyber-security systems and infrastructure-control systems are exempted.
A taxpayer advocate makes permanent a soon-to-expire taxpayer-advocate program to help ensure taxpayers who are overcharged by the state Franchise Tax Board can receive assistance and refunds.
A mental health and public safety measure clarifies that counties can apply for Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant funds to pay for diversion programs that reduce recidivism of non-violent mentally ill offenders.
An “Accountability Act” will increase accountability and transparency in the Public Utilities Commission.
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