Take Action to Oppose CA Senate Bill 649 (SB.649)

SB.649 This Week: It’s Down to a Governor Jerry Brown Veto

Listen to this . . . 9/22/97: Reinette Senum Heads Up Radio, SB.649

9/15/17 San Francisco Chronicle Opinion

Now for the bad news.

The telecom industry muscled SB 649 through the Legislature, a bad bill that will allow the companies to install obtrusive antennas and equipment on almost any street light or traffic signal without the input of local communities.

Brown should veto it.

Governor Jerry Brown, Please VETO SB.649!

Fax your letter to the Governor Brown today! Fax to 916-558-3160 with your office fax machine or use this free/low cost service: https://faxzero.com/ Download Sudi Scull’s SB.649 Flyer – linked to here and on the image to the left, below.

Tell the Governor that last week’s SB.649 votes were really close, despite the obvious lobbying/campaign contributions/community gifts that clearly influence our legislators’ votes. Tell him that the majority of Californians oppose SB.649, including over 300 CA cities (none supporting) and 47 of the 58 counties (none supporting). Tell him no one wants this pork barrel gift to the Wireless Industry shoved down our throats — as the Cities, Counties and People have spoken against SB.649.

Last week’s votes SB.649 were very close . . . much closer than AT&T, Verizon and the CTIA anticipated. Even the legislators are divided on this contentious Bill.

9/13/17 CA Assembly Vote on SB.649

All time codes, below, are from the California Channel Video called 9/13/17 (Post Recess) Assembly Floor Session

9/13/17 First SB.649 Vote, around 3:00 pm (41 Ayes needed to pass)
  • 1:25:10: SB.649 Presentation
  • 1:31:08: Open the roll call vote

. . . voting continues for 2 minutes, 16 seconds

  • 1:33:24: 33 for vs. 46 against = 11 Noes + 35 Not Voting
  • 1:33:25: Quirk asks to ‘move’ the vote (not let the vote finalize)

. . . other bills are considered for 45 minutes

9/13/17 Second SB.649 Vote, around 4:00 pm (41 Ayes needed to pass)
  • 2:20:13: Quirk moves to bring SB.649 off of call
  • 2:20:19: 31 for vs. 48 against

. . . voting continues for 42 seconds

  • 2:21:01: 38 for vs. 41 against
  • 2:21:02: 39 for vs. 40 against
  • 2:21:06: 40 for vs. 39 against
  • 2:21:08: 42 for vs. 37 against
  • 2:21:08 Announcement: ‘The Clerk will close the rolls and tally the vote (the measure passes)’
  • 2:21:09: Clerk announces the vote at 43 for vs. 36 against = 13 Noes + 23 Not Voting

9/14/17 CA Senate Concurrence Vote on SB.649

All time codes, below, are from the California Channel Video called 9/14/17 Senate Floor Session

9/13/17 First SB.649 Vote, around 11:20 am (21 Ayes needed to pass)
  • 1:19:00: Sen. Jackson — "File Item 167 on the First Supplemental File, Senate Bill 649"
  • 1:19:15: Sen. Heuso — "SB 649 is back for Concurrence . . ."
  • 1:21:21: Sen. Nielsen — "I rise in support . . ."
  • 1:22:54: Sen. Anderson — question for the author re: local – jurisdiction/authority
  • 1:26:29: Sen. Gaines — question for the author re: local jurisdiction/authority
  • 1:31:01: Sen. Jackson — "Please call the roll."
  • 1:32:15: 18 for vs. 22 against = 3 Noes + 19 Not Voting
  • 1:32:23: Sen. Jackson — ‘Senator Hueso moves a call’

. . . other bills are considered for 2 1/2 hours

9/13/17 First SB.649 Vote, around 3:00 pm (21 Ayes needed to pass)
  • 4:02:56: Sen. Jackson: "Moving to File Item 167, Senator Hueso is requesting that we lift the call on File Item 167. Mr. Secretary, please call the absent members."
  • 4:04:05 22 for vs. 18 against = 10 Noes + 8 Not Voting
  • 4:04:10 Sen. Jackson: "The measure passes."

9/01/17: Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher Failed Californians by Not Keeping SB.649 in Suspense

SB.649 was referred to three Assembly Committees:

  1. Referred to Local Government Committee
  2. Referred to Communications and Conveyance Committee — without proper public notice ( read below).
  3. On 7/12/17, SB.649 was referred to Appropriations Committee
  4. Read the latest edit of SB.649, reflecting the 9/01/17 vote and posted to the public on 9/06/17

SB.649 was heard at the Assembly Appropriation Committee Hearings on Wed Aug. 23 and Fri Sept. 1 in State Capitol Room 4202. Scientists for Wired Technology tried to correct the improper handling of the Committee Referrals for SB.649, as you can read below.

SB.649, as amended in the Assembly is a Vastly Different Bill

  • Between the 5/2/17 edit, the version voted on by the Senate, and the 9/6/17 edit, the version to be voted on by the Assembly SB.649 has ballooned from 1890 words to 3300 words — a 75% increase, nearly doubling in size
  • Many items from the ALEC/CTIA/AT&T/Verizon wish list were added at the last minute on 9/6/17
  • SB.649 has changed so much, it has fallen under the Jurisdiction of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, chaired by Senator Bob Wieckowski

ADA Accommodations for EMS and Disabled Californians at The 8/23/17 Appropriations Committee Hearing Was Severely Limited by the CA Legislature

At an 8/15/17 meeting with the Assembly ADA coordinator, we reviewed key language selected from the ADA Title II Technical Assistance Manual and the rationale for why Electromagnetically Sensitive (EMS) and Disabled Californians need testimony access and time consistent with what we already received at the CA Legislature: at the Senate Appropriations Committee on 5/15/17, at the Assembly Local Government Committee on 6/28/17 and at the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee on 7/12/17. More specifically:

  • The Senate Appropriations Committee allowed 17 minutes of Opposition testimony shared 50% by three people speaking on behalf of EMS Californians and the fiscal impacts of SB.649 and 50% by three people speaking on behalf of California cities and counties and the fiscal impacts.
  • The Assembly Local Government Committee allowed 30 minutes of Opposition testimony, 40% by six people speaking on behalf of EMS Californians and 60% by 12 people speaking on behalf of California cities and counties.
  • The Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee allowed 40 minutes of Opposition testimony, 50% by 14 people speaking on behalf of EMS Californians and 50% by 15 people on behalf of California cities and counties.

At present, the Assembly Appropriations Committee has reduced EMS Californians’ testimony to one call-in speaker for two minutes on 8/23/17. This discrimination is being addressed with the CA Legislature and the Department of Justice.

Over 1,600 Californians signed this petition opposing SB.649

You Can Help Oppose SB.649 by Doing Three Things:

  1. Visit Assembly Member offices in person from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, no appointments needed. Making calls is a distant Plan B, often reduced to a tick mark on a page, but if that is all you can do, the phone numbers are here and here).
  2. Complete and Submit our form, below, to enter your comments opposing SB.649 into the public record at the 8/30/17 Appropriations Committee Hearing. We will print the comments and hand them to the Sergeant-At-Arms during the hearing to ensure your name and comment is entered into the public record. This is better than sending emails.
  3. Help Pass Out Books. We are lending 50 copies of Arthur Firstenberg’s 2017 book The Invisible Rainbow, A History of Electricity and Life to Assembly members over the next four weeks — highlighting the 20 pages which are a must-read.

SB.649 Committee Referrals

As originally intended by the Rules Committee Chair, Ken Cooley, SB.649 should still be referred to the Natural Resources Committee. Cooley’s original intention to do so is fully-documented in the only agenda-of-record for the 6/15/17 Rules Committee Hearing on the official CA Assembly Web Site.

Assembly Committees Relevant to SB.649

  • Local Government Committee Jurisdiction : Primary jurisdictions are General Plan, land use, housing element, local agency formation commissions, city and county organization and powers, special district governance and finance, eminent domain and others.
  • Natural Resources Committee Jurisdiction: Primary jurisdiction includes air quality, climate change, energy efficiency, renewable energy, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), coastal protection, forestry, land conservation, oil spills, solid waste and recycling.
  • Health Committee Jurisdiction: Primary jurisdictions are health care, health insurance, Medi-Cal and other public health care programs, mental health licensing of health and health-related professionals, and long-term health care facilities.
  • Communications and Conveyance Committee Jurisdiction: Primary jurisdictions are not listed. As this is a new committee in 2017, there is no precedent for bills being assigned to this committee.

As the 6/15/17 Rules Committee Agenda-Of-Record intended intended that SB.649 be referred to the Natural Resources Committee, the question remains: what happened? This is what we have been asking every day since 6/15/17 from Chairman Cooley, Cooley’s Chief of Staff, Jillena Hernandez and Cooley’s Senior Committee Consultant, Michael Erke — with no adequate explanation provided as of 6/26/17.

The Committee assignment changed at the Rules committee on 6/15/17 for no apparent reason. The Rules Committee deviated from well-established procedures, as evidenced by the Assembly Rules Committee agendas listed here and the rather short Assembly Rules Committee Hearings, videos, which are listed here. Public access to the rationale for this last-minute, darkroom deal have, unfortunately, been systematically hidden from the public, despite great effort made by Scientists For Wired Technology to shine some light on this significant and unwarranted last-minute change:

  1. Despite repeated voicemail messages and in-person requests at Cooley’s office on 6/15, 6/16, 6/19, 6/20, 6/21 and 6/22 for Ms. Jillena Hernandez to please discuss the rationale for this improperly-noticed, last-minute change in Committee assignment for SB.649, Ms. Hernandez has not responded with any adequate explanation or even with a date/time to meet. This turned out to be a 23-day stonewall — we finally received some explanation from Chairman Cooley himself on Sat 7/8/12, at his District 8 meet and greets at Insight Coffee in Carmichael and at Starbucks in East Sacramento.
  2. Cooley’s explanation was that six of the 13 members of the Communications and Conveyance Committee also served on the Assembly Health Committee, and these members would complete the due diligence on the negative biological effects of Radio-Frequency Microwave Radiation (RF/MW radiation) on humans and other organisms. Unfortunately, both the Communications and Conveyance Committee Bill Analysis, completed by Chief Consultant, Edmond Cheung, and these six members (Miguel Santiago, Rob Bonta, Brian Manschein, Jim Patterson, Freddie Rodriguez and Jim Wood) utterly ignored this critically important issue and showed no evidence of completing the necessary due diligence. In short, they punted — again!
  3. Despite repeated voicemail messages, emails and in-person requests from Ken Cooley’s District 8 Constituents (which include a public health professional and three Medical Doctors) to Cooley’s office on 6/15, 6/16, 6/19, 6/20, 6/21 and 6/22 the office has refused to respond with a date/time to meet with Cooley so they can discuss this time-critical issue.

6/15/17 Rules Committee Transcript

  • 10:05: Start of Rules Committee
  • 10:47: Chairman Cooley to Secretary: "Do I need to do any more beyond announcing that?"
  • 10:49: Rules Committee Secretary: "Just mention the change".
  • 10:52: Chairman Cooley: "With respect to SB.649 — Hueso, the recommendation was changed to Local Government and Communications & Conveyance. So we will take that up today." [No discussion among any Assembly members.]
  • 11:17: "So, with those changes noted, we have a consent agenda. Is there a motion? A second? Madame Secretary please call the votes."
  • 11:45: Chairman Cooley: "The motion is passed and Rules Committee is adjourned." [the meeting lasted all of 2 minutes, 40 seconds]

Overview: Visiting Assembly Member Offices

You don’t need to be an expert or even be the smartest person in the room to make a large impact in opposing SB.649. You just need to show up. Support or opposition to any Bill is measured by how many people make the effort to tell their story succinctly and with calm and measured conviction to Assembly staffers who will then decide to either filter out or take your information to their boss. What drives that decision? The number of people that show up and whether or not you are polite enough or likeable enough.

Showing up at the Capitol in Sacramento is the one thing you can do to ensure that your message will be heard by someone. Calls are reduced to tick marks on a sheet, emails are routinely ignored, letters and handouts are often filed in the circular filing cabinet (and taken out with the recycling). This is politics. What is important is measured by how many people show up — and how often. Your one chance to be memorable is to show up in Sacramento. The good news is that it is very easy to do.

  • The Capitol is open Mon through Friday from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm, but most legislative staffers prefer to see people from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
  • There is discounted early bird parking (in by 9:00 am) at the lot on 12th and L Streets, just behind the Hyatt Regency and Starbucks.
  • Legislative staffers’ jobs are to welcome you. You can just drop into an office — without an appointment — and ask to speak to someone who handles SB.649 for the Assembly Member or Senator. Sometimes you leave with a card, but other times they may have ten minutes for you on the spot. Always ask for a short meeting.
  • Legislative staffers have a lot of other work to do; taking time to talk to you makes their days longer — so please be succinct and to the point.
  • If you are a Constituent of an Assembly Member or Senator, you have a better chance of calling/emailing ahead to get an actual appointment with your elected official, but there is no guarantee. Often, you will have better luck studying their photos and introducing yourself when they are walking to meetings in the hallway.
  • A couple of hundred people showing up for just one day each in June and July to say that you will not stand for a cell tower being as close as 10 to 15 feet to your home will change some votes. The forced 24/7 exposure to Radio-Frequency Microwave Radiation (RF/MW radiation) closer than 2500 feet is hazardous, as proven by many substantial scientific studies.

What We Are Up Against

In the case of SB.649, to date, we have been seriously outmanned and outgunned by the highly-paid team of lobbyists from AT&T, Verizon and the Cellular Telephone and Internet Association (CTIA) – the sponsors and actual author of this Bill. That’s right SB.649 is just one of many similar state bills that originated at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), was edited by the CTIA, approved by AT&T and Verizon and then handed to Senator Ben Hueso and Assembly Member Bill Quirk, along with their marching orders. The votes from our legislators are not just purchased with generous campaign contributions form the Wireless Industry, but purchased with the generous community grants to the Districts of the so-called Bill-authors of SB.649: at least $25,000 for Senator Ben Hueso’s District and $500,000 for Assembly Member Bill Quirk’s District, as detailed here.

The only way we can combat this level of influence is to markedly increase the numbers of people willing to show up and speak out against SB.649. Your reasons may differ from the talking points that we offer, below, but just a little bit of research on your part will uncover many, many reasons to oppose SB.649 and Small Cells in California residential neighborhoods.

Information about CA Senate Bill 649 can be found at the following links:

  • CA SB.649 – Wireless Telecommunications Bill
  • Post for Oppose CA SB.649: Wireless Telecommunications Bill
  • Post for Palo Alto 4G Small Cells: An Extreme Health Hazard
  • Post for CA Senate SB-649 April 4 Testimony
  • Post for CA Senate SB-649 April 26 Testimony
  • Post for CA Senate SB-649 May 15 Testimony
  • Post for Press Advisory: CA SB 649 Passed by Senate
  • Post for June 11 East Bay Times Op-Ed on SB.649

Three Things You Can Do to Oppose SB.649

I. Come to Sacramento for one or more days to talk to the Assembly Member Offices

Assembly member contact information is here.

II. Enter Your Statements About SB.649 to the Assembly Appropriations Committee into the Public Record


Complete and Submit our form, below, to enter your comments opposing SB.649 into the public record at the 9/1/17 Appropriations Committee Hearing. We will print the comments and hand them to the Sergeant-At-Arms during the hearing to ensure your name and comment is entered into the public record. This is better than sending emails.

Form starts here


Form ends here

III. Prepare and Hand out Books to Assembly Members

We are lending 50 copies of Arthur Firstenberg’s 2017 book The Invisible Rainbow, A History of Electricity and Life to Assembly members — highlighting the 20 pages which are a must-read.