Legislative Action Center

The mission of EERI is to support individuals, communities and organizations with a common interest in reducing earthquake risk, and includes advocating for comprehensive and realistic measures for reducing the harmful effects of earthquakes. Our Legislative Action Center will keep members, partners, and allies updated on seismic safety legislation while providing opportunities to directly engage with the policymaking process.

The Public Policy and Advocacy Committee (PPA) also has a process for developing broader policy position statements. These Policy Statements are short white papers that can be used by EERI members to promote and encourage action by policymakers to reduce earthquake risk. For more information, view our Policy Statements here.

CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR HOUSE AND SENATE REPRESENTATIVES

Current Legislation and Measures

California Assembly Bill 1923 - Residential structures: natural gas shutoff devices

Assembly Bill 1923 (Salas) requires the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), in consultation with the Office of the State Architect and the State Fire Marshall to consider whether to propose for adoption and approval by the California Building Standards Commission the requirement that seismic gas shutoff devices or excess flow gas shutoff devices to be installed on customer-owned piping, be installed in all or a portion of dwelling units, motels, hotels, and lodging houses.

The purpose of this Bill is to better protect residents and prevent property damage by determining whether installing gas shutoff valves in homes could help prevent fires caused by gas leaks in the event of an earthquake.  It does so by utilizing the existing building standards process and utilizing the information previously gleaned from the DHCD’s analysis of this issue.

According to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 2011 authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to require the installation of automatic shutoff valves or remote controlled sectionalized block shutoff valves on specified gas pipelines if that Commission determines that those valves are necessary for the protection of the public.  Existing laws also authorize cities and counties to enact ordinances that conform to specified standards adopted by the State Architect that require the installation of earthquake sensitive gas shutoff devices in buildings open to the public.

The California Building Standards Law requires state agencies that propose adoption of any building standard to submit the standard to the California Buildings Standards Commission for its approval and adoption before that standard can become effective in code.

The State Housing Law requires the Department of Housing and Community Development to propose the adoption, amendment, or repeal of specific building standards related to residential structures in accordance with the California Building Standards Law.

The installation of automatic gas shutoff valves was a topic of major legislative discussion brought about by SB 1992 (Perata) in 2002 which authorized a study published in 2005 entitled “Final Report Seismic Gas Shutoff Devices and Excess Flow Gas Shutoff Devices.”  The major conclusion of this Report is: “...the Department [DHCD] concludes that there are not sufficient benefits to support the additional costs associated with such a proposed building standard.  However, the Department continues to support existing law that permits local governments to choose to modify the California Building Standards Code to require the installation of gas shutoff devices based on local geological, topographical or climatic reasons.”

EERI Position: Support

Bill Status  | Link to California Legislature page

View EERI Letter of Support - AB 1923 [PDF] 
EERI letter of support for Assemblymember Salas 

California 2020-2021 Proposed Budget - Relocation of Seismic Safety Commission

The California Seismic Safety Commission (Commission) was established in 1975 by the Seismic Safety Act. The 17-member Commission was created as an independent body with responsibilities to advise the Governor, State Legislature, and state and local governments on ways to reduce California’s large variety of earthquake risks. Much of the Commission’s original operating independence was lost when in 2006 it was placed by the Legislature into the California State and Consumer Services Agency (now the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency (BCSH)) and its membership increased to 20 at the request of the Governor. In addition, the Commission’s operating budget has been stagnant for a number of years, and simple inflation and government costs have rendered this amount inadequate to sustain Commission operations into the future.

Contained in the Governor’s Draft 2020-2021 Budget is a proposal to move the Seismic Safety Commission into the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) where its duties are described as “advisory”, the number of Commissioners is slightly reduced, its annual operating budget is greatly enhanced, but its former “commission independence” and duties are not defined.

EERI would like to see several amendments to the currently proposed budget and subsequent trailer legislation to reestablish the expert capability of the Commission, along with an adequate budget for Commission activities. Specific recommended amendments are outlined in EERI’s position letter, but include suggestions for: (1) Specific Commission actions that should be clearly authorized with enforceable, statutory language to ensure Commission independence; (2) Specific Commissioner appointments that should be reduced, and recommendations for appointments that should be maintained; and (3) How appointments should be made if the Commission is transferred to OES.

The ability of the Commission to maintain open and transparent operations and decision-making before the public regarding California’s seismic resilience and the adequacy of future funding for the Commission’s operations are of paramount concern to EERI. EERI is ready to support this proposed relocation of the Commission, if its ability to continue independent operations with supportive funding is guaranteed.

EERI Position: Support, If Amended

LAO Report  | Link to California Legislative Analyst’s Office Report

View EERI Letter of Support If Amended - SSC Relocation NEWSOM [PDF]
EERI letter of SUPPORT IF AMENDED for California Governor Gavin Newsom

View EERI Letter of Support If Amended - SSC Relocation TING [PDF]
EERI letter of SUPPORT IF AMENDED for California Assemblymember Phil Ting, Chair, Assembly Committee on Budget

California Residents! You can help...

  1. Find your legislators.
  2. Write to Governor Newsom, and urge him to amend the proposed Commission relocation so that it enhances the Commission's independence and ensures it has sufficient budget. For details, please see EERI's official letter of support to Governor Newsom.
  3. Call or email your representatives, particularly if they serve on the California State Assembly Committee on Budget, and urge them to seek amendments on the proposed Commission relocation to enhance its independence and ensure it has sufficient budget. For details, please see EERI's official letter of support to Chair Ting.
  4. Let us know you responded by filling out EERI's Advocacy Participation Form

Any questions can be directed to Policy@eeri.org

California Senate Bill 758 - Hospitals: Seismic Safety

California Senate Bill 758: Hospitals: Seismic Safety is a piece of proposed California legislation that will alter seismic safety standards for California’s acute care inpatient hospital facilities. The Hospital Seismic Safety Act of 1982, which created a statewide program based on legislation passed in 1972 and subsequent legislation, currently ensures that all acute care inpatient hospital facilities will be fully functioning following a damaging earthquake or else will be removed from service by January 1, 2030.

Previous legislatures set the 2030 deadline based on a thoughtful program that would give all California communities the hospitals they will need when a major earthquake strikes their region. The proposed language in SB758 changes these standards, enables non-compliant hospitals to continue to forgo necessary upgrades that support community recovery. Non-compliant facilities still have a decade to seek funding support and upgrade to ensure compliance with the current law without jeopardizing essential acute care services that will be necessary after a damaging earthquake. While EERI recognizes the financial strain on some smaller hospitals supporting rural communities or underserved populations, this legislation is not the right solution as it will put these California citizens at higher risk after an earthquake. Instead, this legislation should empower and support hospital owners to correct course to assure the seismic structural integrity of their facilities.

EERI Position: Oppose

Bill Status  | Link to California Legislature page

View EERI Letter of Opposition - SB 758 [PDF]
EERI letter of opposition dated 8/7/2020 for Assembly Member Lorena Gonzales, Chair, Assembly Appropriations Committee

View EERI Letter of Opposition - SB 758 [PDF]
EERI letter of opposition dated 5/1/2020 for Assembly Member Jim Wood, Chair, Assembly Health Committee

California Residents! You can help...

  1. Find your legislators.
  2. Call or email your representatives and urge them to oppose SB758. For details, please see EERI's official letter of opposition.
  3. Let us know you responded by filling out EERI's Advocacy Participation Form

Any questions can be directed to Policy@eeri.org

California Assembly Bill 1997 - Functional Recovery

California Assembly Bill 1997, introduced in January 2020, is an update of AB 393 from 2019 that EERI formally supported before it was put into the Suspense file. AB 1997 is nearly the same as AB 393, except with updated delivery dates.

Current California building codes uphold a life safety standard but don't take functional recovery into account. AB 1997 would require the California Building Standards Commission to assemble a functional recovery working group to consider whether a “functional recovery” standard is warranted for all or some building occupancy classifications in the state and identify practical means of implementing this standard. The bill would require the working group to advise the appropriate state agencies to propose the building standards, as specified. The bill would authorize the commission to adopt regulations based upon the recommendations from the working group for nonresidential occupancies. The bill would define “functional recovery” for purposes of these provisions, as specified. The bill would provide legislative findings in support of these provisions.

EERI is named to this working group in the bill. AB 1997 has the potential to improve seismic safety in California, and its goals are very closely aligned with both EERI's mission of earthquake risk reduction and our official policy position statement on Creating Earthquake-Resilient Communities.

EERI Position: Support

Bill Status  | Link to California Legislature page

View EERI Letter of Support - 1997 [PDF]

EERI letter of support for Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian

California Assembly Bill 429 - Vulnerable Building Inventory

California Assembly Bill 429 would amend existing law, establishing a program within all cities and all counties and portions thereof located within zones of high seismic activity, as defined, to identify all potentially hazardous buildings and to establish a mitigation program for these buildings. The mitigation program may include, among other things, the adoption by ordinance of a hazardous buildings program, measures to strengthen buildings, and the application of structural standards necessary to provide for life safety above current code requirements. This bill would declare the intention of the Legislature to enact legislation to implement an inventory of all seismically vulnerable buildings within California.

EERI Position: Support

Bill Status  | Link to California Legislature page

View EERI Letter of Support - AB 429 [PDF]
EERI letter of support for Assemblymember Gray

 

Archived Legislation

Proposition 13 on California’s March 3, 2020 primary

At the recommendation of EERI’s Public Policy and Advocacy (PPA) California Legislative Subcommittee, the EERI Board of Directors has taken a neutral position on Proposition 13 — the only statewide measure on California’s March 3 primary. While EERI holds a neutral position, we highly encourage you to learn more about this important measure, which has the potential for providing funding for seismic risk reduction in school, college, and university buildings.

Prop 13 would authorize $15 billion to build and repair public schools, including $9 billion for preschool and K-12 schools, $4 billion for universities, and $2 billion for community colleges. For K-12 schools, Prop 13 would give projects meant to improve “health or life safety” the highest funding priority and amends Education Code § 17075.10 to govern projects mitigating unacceptable seismic risks, putting them under the health and safety umbrella.

The subcommittee acknowledged the benefit to school safety if educational facilities pursued seismic retrofit projects or if new school construction replaces deficient facilities. But the lack of definitive commitment of funds to seismic risk reduction versus other health hazards, and the broad bond scope encouraged the Subcommittee to offer a “Neutral” position for Prop 13. If Prop 13 passes, PPA can then advocate for school districts to take advantage of the available funds for seismic risk reduction projects.

EERI Position: Neutral

Outcome: Prop 13 was was defeated by California voters during the March 3, 2020 election with 47% "Yes" and 53% "No" votes.

For more information on Prop 13, review the following resources:

Oregon House Bill 2206 - State Safety Assessment Program

HB 2206 : Development of a State Safety Assessment Program is a piece of Oregon legislation which calls for the development and administration of a state program to evaluate the condition and safety of buildings ("building tagging") following a state emergency. EERI believes in the importance of building tagging after earthquakes and supports this program which would allow the establishment of a robust and timely building tagging program. This program would be hosted under the State Fire Marshal which is the entity most prepared and willing to take on this effort.

EERI Position: Support

Outcome: HB2206 passed both houses of the legislature and was signed into law by the Governor, as Chapter 649, (2019 Laws) with an effective date January 1, 2020.

Bill Status | Link to Oregon Legislature page

View EERI Letter of Support - HB 2206 [PDF]

Letters of support from other organizations:
Letter of Support from ASCE Oregon Section
Letter of support from AIA Member

California Assembly Bill 393 - Functional Recovery
California Assembly Bill 393, introduced in 2019, is an update of AB 1857 from the 2017-2018 legislative session that EERI formally supported before it was vetoed by the Governor. The Governor cited overlap with a forthcoming NIST report in his veto, which we believe to have been a misunderstanding which has been since clarified.
Current California building codes uphold a life safety standard but don't take functional recovery into account. AB 393 would require the California Building Standards Commission to assemble a functional recovery working group to consider whether a “functional recovery” standard is warranted for all or some building occupancy classifications in the state and identify practical means of implementing this standard. EERI is named to this working group in the bill. AB 393 has the potential to improve seismic safety in California, and its goals are very closely aligned with both EERI's mission of earthquake risk reduction and our official policy position statement on Creating Earthquake-Resilient Communities.

EERI Position: Support

Outcome: Moved to Suspense file.  Modified to AB 1997 in 2019-2020 CA Legislative Session.

Bill Status  | Link to California Legislature page

View EERI Letter of Support - 393 [PDF]
EERI letter of support for Assemblymember Chu

National Bills S.1768 // H.R. 6650 - NEHRP

These are two companion bills introduced first to the U.S. Senate (S.1768) and afterwards to the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R.6650).

The bills amend the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 to expand activities under the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program to include: (1) gathering information on community resilience (i.e., the ability of a community to prepare for, recover from, and adapt to earthquakes); (2) publishing a systematic set of maps of active faults and folds, liquefaction susceptibility, susceptibility for earthquake-induced landslides, and other seismically induced hazards; and (3) continuing the development of the Advanced National Seismic System, including earthquake early warning capabilities.

With respect to earthquake hazard reduction activities, the bill revises or expands the duties of: (1) the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction, (2) the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), (3) the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), (4) the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and (5) the National Science Foundation.

EERI Position: Support

Outcome: Senate Bill (S.1768) passed both houses of congress and was signed into law by the President on Tuesday, December 11, 2018.

Download EERI Template for H.R. 6650 (House of Representatives) [.docx]
Download,  fill out, and mail this template to voice your support

Download EERI Template for S. 1786 (for Senators) [.docx]
Download,  fill out, and mail this template to voice your support

View EERI Letter of Support - H.R. 6650 [PDF]
EERI letter of support for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

View EERI Letter of Support - S.1768 [PDF]
EERI letter of support for Senator Diane Feinstein

View EERI Policy Position Statement - NEHRP
Link to EERI's page with NEHRP Position Statement

Bill Status - S.1768
Link to Congressional bill page

Bill Status - H.R.6650
Link to Congressional bill page

Find Your Representatives
Link to find names and contact information for your senators and house representative

California Assembly Bill 2681 - Building Inventory

California Assembly Bill 2681 requires a statewide inventory of vulnerable buildings in California to be created and maintained. This bill would, upon the identification of funding by the Office of Emergency Services, require the building department of a city or county that meets specified requirements to create an inventory of potentially vulnerable buildings, as defined, within its jurisdiction, based on age and other publicly available information, and submit that inventory to the office, as specified. By increasing the duties of local officials, this bill would create a state-mandated local program. The bill would require the office to, among other things, maintain a statewide inventory, identify funding mechanisms to offset costs to building departments and building owners in complying with these provisions, and report to the Legislature on the number of potentially vulnerable buildings and compliance of building departments with these provisions. The bill would require the owner of a building identified by a building department as a potentially vulnerable building to retain a licensed professional engineer to identify whether the building meets the definition of a potentially vulnerable building, and provide a letter to the building department stating the licensed professional engineer’s findings. The bill would specify the date by which each requirement must be met.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state.

EERI Position: Support

Outcome: Vetoed by Governor Brown. As of September 30, 2018, Governor Brown has vetoed both pieces of seismic legislation (AB 1857 and AB 2681)authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and supported by EERI. Thank you to all members in California who responded to our call to action by sending their own personal letters to Governor Brown. Click on the links to read the Governor's veto justification letters for AB 1857 and AB 2681.

Download EERI Template for Governor Brown (CA) [.docx]
Download,  fill out, and mail this template to voice your support

View Instructions for contacting Governor Brown by phone and email
Link to EERI page with instructions

View EERI Letter of Support - AB 2681 [PDF]
EERI letter of support for Governor Jerry Brown

View EERI Letter of Support - AB 2681 [PDF]
EERI letter of support for Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian

Bill Status
Link to California Legislature page

California Assembly Bill 1857 – Building Codes

California Assembly Bill (AB) 1857, introduced in 2018 by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, requires the investigation of a necessary “functional recovery” standard to be incorporated in the California Building Code for all or some building occupancy classifications in the state. EERI believes these enforceable building code provisions and regulations are an important step to improved seismic safety in California, and that providing these specific design and construction requirements will support California’s broader disaster resilience and mitigation goals in the future.

EERI Position: Support

Outcome: Vetoed by Governor Brown. As of September 30, 2018, Governor Brown has vetoed both pieces of seismic legislation (AB 1857 and AB 2681) authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and supported by EERI. Thank you to all members in California who responded to our call to action by sending their own personal letters to Governor Brown. Click on the links to read the Governor's veto justification letters for AB 1857 and AB 2681.

Download EERI Template for Governor Brown (CA) [.docx]
Download,  fill out, and mail this template to voice your support

View Instructions for contacting Governor Brown by phone and email
Link to EERI page with instructions

View EERI Letter of Support - AB 1857 [PDF]
EERI letter of support for Governor Jerry Brown

View EERI Letter of Support [PDF]
EERI letter of support for Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian

Bill Status
Link to California Legislature page