Fiscal Report
Public Education's Point of Reference for Making Educated Decisions

2020 Legislative Year Wrap-Up

Wednesday, September 30, 2020, marked the end of an unprecedented legislative year that saw extended recesses and a significantly reduced legislative agenda as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which culminated in the fewest number of bills sent to a governor’s desk in decades. 

When the year began, the most significant legislative priority that the Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom looked to tackle was the issue of homelessness and affordable housing. In fact, Governor Newsom spent almost the entirety of his State of the State address on February 19, 2020, outlining his Administration’s plans for addressing homelessness, calling the issue his top legislative priority for the year.  

Exactly one month later, Governor Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order in response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a public health crisis that has drastically altered everyone’s life and led to a significant shift and reduction to the state’s legislative priorities and workload. 

With his final actions on September 30, 2020, Governor Newsom officially put an end to the 2020 legislative year (barring the convening of an unlikely special session), in which the Legislature sent him 428 bills to consider—a 65% reduction from the 1,217 bills that he took action on in 2019, which shows the toll that COVID-19 had on lawmakers this year. Of the 428 bills that Governor Newsom received, he signed 372 and vetoed 56, giving him a 13% veto rate for the year, less than his 16.5% veto rate in 2019. 

To provide you with a wrap-up for the 2020 legislative year, we list the significant education bills that Governor Newsom signed and vetoed during the month of September and also include links to previous Fiscal Report articles that provide more detailed information for several of these measures.  

Bills Signed by the Governor

Assembly Bill (AB) 685 (Chapter 84/2020)—Imminent Hazard to Employees: Exposure: Notification: Serious Violations. This bill requires employers to provide written notice and instructions to employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at their worksite and enhances Cal/OSHA’s ability to enforce health and safety standards to prevent workplace exposure to and spread of COVID-19 (see “Governor Newsom Signs Workers’ Compensation and Family Leave Bills into Law” in the September 2020 Fiscal Report). 

AB 908 (Chapter 64, Statutes of 2020)—Pupils: Extracurricular Activities: Work Permits. This bill authorizes a school district to extend a student’s probationary period to demonstrate satisfactory progress through the conclusion of the 2020–21 school year for purposes of extracurricular and cocurricular activities; authorizes documentation required for purposes of student work permits to be submitted electronically during an extended school closure; and prohibits a work permit from being denied based on a student’s grades, grade point average, or school attendance when the student’s school has been physically closed for an extended time. 

AB 1350 (Chapter 66/2020)—Retroactive Grant of High School Diplomas: COVID-19 Crisis. This bill authorizes a local educational agency to retroactively grant a high school diploma to a senior in high school during the 2019–20 school year that was in good academic standing, and on track to graduate, but was unable to complete the statewide graduation requirements because of COVID-19. 

AB 2101 (Chapter 275/2020)—Public Employees’ Retirement. This bill specifies that paid administrative leave be included in the “leave of absences” that earn creditable compensation in the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) (see “By the Way . . . CalSTRS Fix to Paid Administrative Leave” in the August 2020 Fiscal Report). 

AB 2234 (Chapter 48, Statutes of 2020)—Classified School and Community College Employees: Personnel Commission: Legal Counsel. This bill authorizes a merit-based school or community college district’s personnel commission to select its own attorney rather than having to use the district’s attorney if a majority of the commission declares that a conflict of interest exists between the commission and the district or the district’s governing board. 

AB 3308 (Chapter 199/2020)—School Districts: Employee Housing. This bill allows school districts to build affordable housing for teachers and school employees on district-owned land, using low-income tax credits. 

Senate Bill (SB) 115 (Chapter 40, Statutes of 2020)—Budget Act of 2019: Budget Act of 2020. This is a budget bill that appropriates $4.6 million in federal funds for Preschool Development Block Grant activities, provides $388,000 in reimbursement authority to the California Department of Education to support the program activities, and appropriates $2.5 million in one-time General Fund and $8.6 million in one-time federal Child Care and Development Block Grant funds to cover an extension of family fee waivers through August 31, 2020. 

SB 820 (Chapter 110/220)—Education Finance. This is the budget cleanup bill for education, which makes a number of technical changes to the education provisions in the 2020–21 State Budget (see “By the Way . . . Education Budget Clean-up Bill Signed” in the September 2020 Fiscal Report). 

SB 860 (Chapter 231/2020)—Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program: Postsecondary Education Financial Aid Applications. This bill requires each county office of education Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program to ensure the students they serve in foster care fill out the forms necessary to receive financial aid for college. 

SB 1159 (Chapter 85/2020)—Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19: Critical Workers. This bill establishes a disputable presumption that an employee who becomes ill from COVID-19 contracted the virus at their workplace and is thus eligible for worker’s compensation (see “Governor Newsom Signs Workers’ Compensation and Family Leave Bills into Law” in the September 2020 Fiscal Report). 

SB 1383 (Chapter 86/2020)—Unlawful Employment Practice: California Family Rights Act. This bill expands the California Family Rights Act to allow employees to use unpaid job protected leave to care for a domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law who has a serious health condition and reduces the employer threshold for this leave from 50 to 5 employees (see “Governor Newsom Signs Workers’ Compensation and Family Leave Bills into Law” in the September 2020 Fiscal Report). 

Bills Vetoed by the Governor

AB 331 (Medina, D-Riverside)—Pupil Instruction: High School Graduation Requirements: Ethnic Studies. This bill would have added the completion of a semester-long course in ethnic studies to the list of state high school graduation requirements beginning with the graduating class of 2029–30 (see “Governor Newsom Vetoes LCFF and Ethnic Studies Bills” in the October 2020 Fiscal Report). 

AB 1835 (Weber, D-San Diego)—Education Finance: Local Control Funding Formula: Supplemental and Concentration Grants. This bill would have required LEAs to annually identify and report unspent Local Control Funding Formula supplemental and concentration grant funds and clarify that those unspent funds must continue to be used to increase or improve services for unduplicated pupils in future years (see “Governor Newsom Vetoes LCFF and Ethnic Studies Bills” in the October 2020 Fiscal Report).