News from Sacramento

Looking Back on a Big Legislative Year

I started the legislative year determined to focus on four things: our changing climate, toxic chemicals omnipresent in our everyday lives, public safety and supporting workers. It was a revolutionary year in California for all four, and I’m proud to share an update on my work.

Addressing Climate Change

One of the key components of reducing California’s greenhouse gas emissions is solar energy. Solar energy systems have grown in popularity, but some cities were price gouging property owners when they tried to pull a permit for rooftop solar installation. The last thing homeowners, businesses and our planet need is a city discouraging private solar investments by imposing costly fees. Although the popularity of solar has grown, only 10% of California’s properties have solar systems installed. We need to incentivize solar, not discourage its installation. AB 1132 creates a cap on those fees to 2034.

Of course, when it comes to climate change it’s not just greenhouse gas emissions that have to be tackled – it’s our water use. This year, I wrote and passed AB 1572, which will eliminate using treated drinking water to water non-functional turf. What’s non-functional turf? It’s what you find in road medians and in front of office buildings that’s purely decorative. It’s also a water hog. Our bill still allows watering of functional turf, like turf used for picnicking in parks, golf courses and soccer fields. Nor will AB 1572 apply to your lawn. According to the Southern California Municipal Water District AB 1572 will save 98 billion gallons of water per year in their service area alone. This bill is a massive win for making sure our precious water will be there for the things we really need it for.

Protecting Californians from Harmful Chemicals

Over the past few years, I’ve been working to get harmful chemicals out of the products that we use every day in our homes. This year, I worked with experts and the personal care products industry to write and pass AB 496, which will ban dozens of hormone disrupting toxic chemicals in cosmetics. The European Union has banned over 1,600 different chemicals from cosmetics. The U.S.? Just 13. Looking good on a date night should not result in disruptions to your endocrine system, and it’s time that California consumers have the same protections as our European friends.

My cosmetics bill was one of three I authored to take dangerous chemicals out of our homes. I authored and passed AB 1059 to remove fiberglass and other toxic chemicals from bedding. And I wrote AB 1322, which adds diphacinone to a banned list of rodenticides. It’s one of the chemicals that has had a devastating effect on our wildlife, including our iconic mountain lions. And the chemical impacts our own homes as well. Over 3,000 humans are poisoned every single year due to injudicious use of anticoagulant rodenticides. Over 2,300 of them are children under the age of 6. Poisoning our children is preventable. I’m happy to say AB 1322 also passed.

Improving Safety

Those of you who have followed my work in the Assembly know that I have focused on improving the safety of our streets and roadways. This year, I introduced legislation allowing a trial program for speed cameras in California. I know we are all familiar with red light cameras. This bill is not that. AB 645 is about saving lives.

Thousands of Californians are lost to traffic violence every year. Research has shown that speed cameras reduce crashes by 54% in urban cores, especially high-injury and fatality crashes. That’s why seven other states, with both Democratic and Republican governors, have authorized or expanded the use of speed cameras this year. Red light cameras were punitive and came with a criminal $500 penalty and points on your license. This program is different. Speed camera tickets will start at $50 and apply only to drivers going at least 11 mph over the speed limit. Points are never added to your license. Tickets can also be reduced by as much as 80% for those in financial need. And the first ticket you get will be a warning! Speed cameras are about slowing down drivers and saving lives, not about punishment.

Supporting Workers

And finally, the ongoing strikes have had a serious impact in our community and on our economy. I’ve partnered with my colleagues to provide a safety net for striking workers during a prolonged labor dispute. I co-authored SB 799, a bill to provide striking workers with unemployment benefits. In addition, I’ve introduced AB 1017 with Assemblymember Chris Holden, a bill to provide striking workers with financial assistance through zero-interest loans to help cover their housing expenses. These bills offer much-needed protections and would prevent employers acting in bad faith and weaponizing the threat of homelessness against their employees legally fighting for their rights.

It’s been a busy year and I’m looking forward to continuing the work as we head toward 2024. In the months ahead, I’d like to hear from you about the issues you care about. What are your priorities for legislation or budget investments? As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any comments, questions or concerns through my District Office at (818) 558-3043 or

Assemblymember Laura Friedman