The Legislature in California is considering four bills to regulate the state’s unregulated, unaccountable charter industry.

Under current law, charters can locate wherever they want, without regard to the fiscal impact on the district they choose. They first apply to the local district; if they are turned down because the local district doesn’t want or need a charter, they can appeal to the county board of education. If they lose there, they can appeal to the state board, which Gov. Jerry Brown packed with pro-charter allies. Ten percent of students in the state attend charters, as do 20% in L.A., and even more in Oakland. Small rural districts may authorize charters that are located in districts hundreds of miles away, ensuring that the charters will never have supervision. The rural district collects a fee for every student who enroll in the far-away district.

The first law—AB 1505– passed the Assembly yesterday in a close vote. Its purpose is to give more control to districts to decide whether to allow charters to open and compete with district schools. It passed by a vote of 42-19. The bill required 41 votes to advance to the State Senate. Here is the text of the bill.

For nearly an hour, Assembly Bill 1505 stood just shy of a handful of the 41 votes required to advance to the Senate, in part because of concerns the bill went too far in limiting the ability of charter schools to appeal authorization denials from local school districts to county and state education boards.

Moderate Democrats in particular were reluctant to support the measure. When the bill finally passed 42-19, it was with an assurance from  Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, the bill’s author, that the bill would be amended to include a “fair” appeal process.

“We knew this was going to be a fight because this is a heavily political matter,” O’Donnell said following the floor vote. “Charter schools have a lot of resources that public schools don’t on the political front, and they employ them in the state Capitol, and we saw that today.”

AB 1505, 1506 and 1507 and Senate Bill 756, put forth as a charter regulation package, have pitted teachers unions and supporters of traditional public schools against advocates of charter schools, which are public but mostly non-union. The two education interests are among Sacramento’s most powerful, and until this past election, when union candidates triumphed in races for governor and statewide schools chief, they have largely fought to a draw.

If passed, the package of proposals would make the most significant changes in a generation to the state’s 27-year-old charter school laws. They would give local school boards more power over authorizations, enact a statewide cap on charters, prohibit districts from authorizing charters outside their geographic boundaries—and impose a two-year moratorium if the Legislature doesn’t make specific reforms by the end of this two-year session.

California has more charter schools than any other state—nearly 1,300. Their freedom from regulation or accountability has been zealously guarded by the powerful California Charter Schools Association, which sPends more than $20 million each year lobbying the Legislature.

Will California’s Legislature finally say “no” to Eli Broad, Reed Hastings, and other billionaire guardians of the charter industry?

Sure, the California Teachers Association lobbies for public schools but its resources don’t match those of the billionaires and its  funds come from the dues of teachers, not equities and corporate profits.