SACRAMENTO – Sen. Steve Glazer’s legislative agenda – including a three-bill package to help residents survive power outages – cleared the Senate this spring and moved to the Assembly despite challenging conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the power outage bills, Glazer carried measures to deter unsafe house parties in short-term rentals – prompted by an Orinda tragedy in which five people were killed – and another to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, which have been used to lure kids into the nicotine habit.
Behind the scenes, the senator also played a key role in passing a constitutional amendment (ACA 11) that could make it easier for seniors to sell their house and buy another without incurring huge increases in their property tax bills. That measure would increase taxes in the state by $1 billion per year, raising money for fire protection by closing a loophole that has allowed out of state investors and absentee landlords to take advantage of a law meant to help people pass on their family home to their children.
The power outage package was intended to address issues with cell phone service, medical devices and hospitals during shutdowns triggered by utilities trying to avoid sparking a fire during high-wind events.
The bills were:
SB 431– (co-authored with Sen. Mike McGuire) to require a 72-hour backup power for cell towers to ensure people have access to cellphone communications during a wildfire power shutdown;
SB 801 – to require utilities to provide backup power sources to protect residents who rely on electricity to power life-saving medical devices;
SB 1099 (co-authored with Sen. Bill Dodd) – to allow hospitals to use backup power without facing local penalties.
“Senator Glazer has truly been a champion of persons with disabilities, older adults and wildfire victims and we commend his work in carrying legislation to ensure that power companies are required to provide backup power to many of them during Public Safety Power Shutoff events,” said Curtis Child, legislative director for Disability Rights California, referring to SB 1099. “This legislation will save lives.”
The Senate also approved Senator Glazer’s bill, SB 1049, increasing penalties for short-term rentals that allow disruptive and dangerous events. Last Halloween in Orinda a mass shooting left five people dead at a party hosted at an AirBnB property.
“In a few short months amidst a deadly crisis, lawmakers were asked to scale back their legislative agendas,” Senator Glazer said. “So, I am thrilled with how much important work we were able to get done, and am especially glad I could address some critical issues for residents in my district.”
The Senate also approved SB 793, which Glazer co-authored with Sen. Jerry Hill, to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products. This bill is similar to previous legislation Glazer has co-authored with Hill banning tobacco and e-cigarette companies from marketing flavored products to children.
The Senate also approved Senator Glazer’s bill, SB 1232, to help student parents pay for books and college supplies with a Cal-WORKS grant. It would also exempt these students from having to meet work requirements.
Assembly Constitutional Amendment 11, which Glazer helped push through the Senate, allow seniors and disabled people to sell their home and buy another one without having to pay the substantially higher property taxes that would typically be assessed on the new purchase. This will allow more empty-nesters to move out of larger homes that have more space than they need while freeing up homes for young families who have been squeezed out by the housing shortage. It appears on the November ballot as Proposition 19.
The constitutional amendment, if approved by voters in November, would also close a loophole that gives people a property tax break when they inherit a home from their parents. People who live in the home they inherit would still get the benefit but it would no longer be available to landlords.
According to the California Board of Equalization, “Proposition 58, effective November 6, 1986, is a constitutional amendment approved by the voters of California which excludes from reassessment transfers of real property between parents and children.
Proposition 193, effective March 27, 1996, is a constitutional amendment approved by the voters of California which excludes from reassessment transfers of real property from grandparents to grandchildren, providing that all the parents of the grandchildren who qualify as children of the grandparents are deceased as of the date of transfer.”
According to Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association in his latest California Commentary, “the Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the repeal of the ‘intergenerational transfer protections’ guaranteed by Props. 58 and 193 will result in 40,000 to 60,000 families getting hit with higher property taxes every year.”
The two changes could eventually raise $1 billion a year in new revenue that would be dedicated to fire protection.
“Senator Glazer’s efforts to create a dedicated fund to support underfunded fire districts in California show how effective a resourceful and persistent lawmaker can be in delivering much needed funds to his fire districts,” said Brian K. Rice President, California Professional Firefighters. “We are grateful for the support Senator Glazer has provided us and should ACA 11 (Proposition 19) be passed by the voters, we look forward to working with him to secure funds for his district.”
Glazer worked with the authors of the measure to ensure that a portion of the revenue would be available to the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, which has been forced to reduce services and close a number of stations because state funding formulas gave it far less property tax revenue than a typical fire district.
“This fire district has never had the revenue it needs to serve the fast-growing East County,” Glazer said. “ACA 11 is a smart, fair tax reform that will help seniors while generating more resources for fighting fires. If it passes, I will work with my fellow legislators to make sure that the East County district gets its fair share.”
Allen Payton contributed to this report.