Senator Morrell Scores Legislative Wins for California Families, Small Businesses, & Consumers

Thursday, October 4, 2018

SACRAMENTO – As the state legislature closed out its 2018 legislative year, Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) successfully saw signed into law several measures that prioritize protecting consumers and taxpayers, empowering small businesses, and increasing government efficiency.

“I attempt each year to focus on legislation that improves opportunity and security for Californians so that they have every chance to succeed,” said Senator Morrell. “These bills are a reflection of that goal. I’m grateful for the support of my colleagues in collaborating on these issues this year.”

Roundup of new laws authored and coauthored by Senator Morrell:

SB 1139 – Keeping New Homeowners from Debt
This bill prevents new homeowners from assuming debt that belonged to the previous homeowners by keeping in place improved processes for shutting down home equity lines of credit.  These provisions help avoid time-consuming and costly litigation.

SB 1183 – Consumer Protection - Reverse Mortgages
This bill ensures consumers are not misled when they have to deal with an estate after a loved one has passed. Reverse mortgages are not assumable, but out of an abundance of caution, mortgage providers currently issue notices to surviving successors regarding the existence of reverse mortgages, similar to other loans or mortgages. To avoid confusion, SB 1183 exempts reverse mortgages from being subject to these notice requirements.

SB 1217 – Streamlining State Law
This measure cleans up relevant code sections pertaining to private investigators and the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services by placing statutes that apply to private investigators into the code sections to which they routinely adhere. This bill allows for these small businesses to better perform their functions and serve consumers.

SB 1410 – Utility Efficiency & Accountability, Increasing Ratepayer Confidence
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is currently required to audit the state’s utility providers on a regular schedule prescribed by law. However, a 2013 state audit found that the CPUC has not consistently complied with the timeline, often folding in the review with a utility’s general rate case (GRC), which periodically sets a utility’s future budget based on previous spending. SB 1410 would align this GRC cycle with the CPUC audit cycle to ensure audits take place, reducing uncertainties for utilities and creating efficiencies to benefit ratepayers.   

SB 1431 – Reducing Confusion in Settlement Process
This bill clarifies the law for individuals who choose to represent themselves in legal settlement cases. Current language in Civil Code is understood by the legal community at large, but can be confusing to unrepresented or self-represented parties. SB 1431 simply makes a certain section of Civil Code, used often in settlement cases, abundantly clear.

AB 403 – Whistleblower Protection for Legislative Employees (coauthor)
This bill provides legislative employees with the same protections other state workers already receive under the California Whistleblower Protection Act. It prohibits any legislator or legislative employee from intimidating a person into not reporting sexual harassment, sexual assault or other illegal, unethical, immoral or inappropriate behavior. It also prohibits retaliation against legislative employees who report misconduct.

SB 920 – Empowering Small Businesses to Succeed (coauthor)
This bill allows licensed engineers, land surveyors, and architects to continue forming limited liability partnerships (LLPs) so that they can remain financially and economically successful. These professions are critical to construction and building in California. Over the last decade, less than 80,000 new homes were built each year, falling behind the projected need of 180,000 new homes annually. The state should not stand in the way of industry working to help meet this threshold.

SB 1079 – Supporting Local Fire Prevention Efforts (coauthor)
This measure ensures CalFire grant funding gets to local Fire Safe councils, nonprofits, and other districts in a timely manner so that fire prevention efforts are not disrupted. Specifically, it allows for advance payments of grants, rather than solely reimbursements. The issue was brought to the attention of Senator Morrell by the Mountain Rim Fire Safe Council.