Bills now on Jerry Brown’s desk

Published: Friday, Sep. 20, 2013 - 11:23 pm
Last Modified: Monday, Sep. 23, 2013 - 5:29 pm

Gov. Jerry Brown has until Oct. 13 to act on approximately 560 bills currently on his desk or on their way, a small figure considering the Legislature introduced 2,500 measures this year.

While he has indicated a preference on some controversial proposals, the fate of many bills remains unclear. The tally to date has Brown signing 327 bills and vetoing five.

Here’s a look at some of the bills he’s considering:

EMPLOYMENT

Overtime

AB 241 Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco

What it would do: Call for some domestic workers -- in-home nannies and caregivers -- to receive overtime pay for working more than nine hours a day or 45 hours in a week.

Analysis: After narrowing the scope of the bill considerably, the Legislature passed a bill that now overlaps with a federal ruling this week to provide minimum wage and overtime to home health care workers. That leaves Brown primarily weighing whether privately employed in-home child care workers should receive overtime pay because they are not included in the federal rule. In addition, the California bill would become law in January, while the federal rule is effective in 2015.

Minimum wage

AB 10 Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville

What it would do: Raise the state minimum wage from $8 to $9 an hour on July 1, 2014, and to $10 an hour by Jan. 1, 2016.

Analysis: Brown made his intention on this bill clear, saying he plans to sign it even before legislators gave their final approval. Amendments removed provisions that would have indexed future increases to inflation, softening -- but not eliminating -- the opposition of business groups. Proponents have argued that raising the minimum wage will help Californians provide for their families while increasing economic activity. The California Chamber of Commerce called the bill a “job killer” that could jeopardize recovery by forcing employers to spend more or hire fewer workers.

Prevailing wage

SB 7 Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento

What it would do: Withhold funds from charter cities that do not pay “prevailing wages” for local public works projects.

Analysis: Opponents are making this bill about local control, keying on the fact that Brown’s education initiatives have focused on that mantra. However, proponents of the bill say paying prevailing wages increases middle-class jobs and ensures high-quality public works projects, which is something the governor can also get behind.

CRIMINAL RECORDS

AB 218 Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento

What it would do: Delay when state and local agencies can ask a job seeker whether they have a criminal history until after the initial application establishing minimum qualifications.

Analysis: Dickinson said his bill will reduce unnecessary barriers to government employment for the one in four adults in California who have an arrest or conviction on their record. Opponents argue that by not initially screening for criminal histories, agencies will be wasting time on an applicant who will be rejected once their conviction is disclosed.

DEATH BENEFITS

AB 1373 Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez

What it would do: Extend the statute of limitations for survivors of public safety officers to file a workers’ compensation claim for death benefits.

Analysis: Sponsored by the California Professional Firefighters, the bill would extend the time limits for survivors’ claims for injuries in the line of duty from 240 weeks to 480 weeks in cases involving cancer, tuberculosis or blood-borne infectious diseases. Opponents have objected to the potential costs of the bill, which are unknown. Brown vetoed a broader version of the bill last year.

ENVIRONMENT

Sacramento arena

SB 743 Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento

What it would do: Assist the construction of a downtown Sacramento arena for the Kings by streamlining potential court hangups under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Analysis: Steinberg promised the NBA he would guide legislation through the Capitol to speed up the construction of a downtown arena. He likely has a friend in Brown, who said in 2012, “I’ve never seen a CEQA exemption I don’t like.”

SCHOOLS

Testing

AB 484 Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord

What it would do: Suspend K-12 standardized testing requirements for the school year currently under way and the public posting of that data for potentially two years.

Analysis: Gov. Jerry Brown's office offered strong support of Bonilla's bill prior to it passing the Legislature. Those in favor of suspending the testing argue that the next two years should serve as a transition to new curriculum standards and computer-based assessments without the interruption of old tests. However, the state’s move could potentially put schools out of compliance with No Child Left Behind, causing the Obama administration to threaten to withhold federal funds.

CRIMINAL LAW

Drugs

SB 649 Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco

What it would do: Give local prosecutors discretion when deciding how to charge crimes stemming from simple possession of drugs for personal use.

Analysis: Under the bill, possession of cocaine, heroin and other specified drugs, which currently are felonies, would join methamphetamine, Ecstasy or hashish as “wobblers” -- misdemeanors or felonies depending on the circumstances. Supporters say it reduces recidivism by eliminating some employment barriers that stem from a felony record. The California District Attorneys Association opposes the bill, saying reducing sentences for addictive drugs helps no one.

Papparazzi

SB 606 Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles

What it would do: Clarify that misdemeanor harassment of a child based on their parents’ profession includes attempting to photograph or record the child.

Analysis: Actresses Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry brought their star power to the Capitol during emotional testimony about the need to restrict overzealous paparazzi, while law enforcement officers have also supported the bill for its ability to ward off harassment and threats against their own children. The California Newspaper Publishers Association opposed the bill, saying it violates the First Amendment protections for news gathering.

IMMIGRATION

Driver’s licenses

AB 60 Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville

What it would do: Allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses that would include special markings indicating proof of citizenship was not given to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Analysis: Brown said he would sign the bill, noting that “because Congress has been so slow, I think they need a good push, and that's what I think this driver's license bill does. also indicated he would ill sign. California would become the 13th state to offer licenses to all undocumented immigrants. Opponents say lawmakers are awarding too many rights of citizens to those here illegally.

Bar admission

AB 1024 Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego

What it would do: Allow undocumented immigrants to practice law in California after passing the State Bar exam.

Analysis: The late session gut-and-amend bill flew through both houses. The bill is in response to a California Supreme Court case in which an undocumented immigrant named Sergio Garcia, who was brought into the country as a child, passed the State Bar exam and is fighting for a license to practice law in California. The court indicated its hands may be tied on the matter unless the Legislature takes action.

Criminal detention

AB 4 Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco

What it would do: Prohibit law enforcement officials from detaining people based on their immigration status unless they are charged with or have prior convictions for serious or violent crimes.

Analysis: The intent of the bill is to reduce the number of deportations and immigration holds for people arrested, charged or convicted of minor crimes. Ammiano’s version of the bill last year was vetoed by Brown, who wrote that it omitted too many crimes. This year’s bill expanded the crimes that warrant immigration holds.

HEALTH

Biosimilars

SB 598 Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo

What it would do: Require pharmacists to notify prescribing doctors when they substitute a “biosimilar” drug after they become available in the United States.

Analysis: Biosimilars are complex medications that are not identical to the brand-name drugs they replace. Used in treating cancer and other illnesses, drug companies and some labor groups argue regulation is needed to ensure consumer protection. Health plans, generic drug manufacturers and the state Board of Pharmacy say the bill sets barriers to providing affordable replacements.

Abortion

AB 154 Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego

What it would do: Expand the types of medical providers that can offer abortions.

Analysis: Under the bill, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants would be allowed to perform the procedure during the first trimester of pregnancy. Democrats argued that the bill addresses the shortage of abortion providers, which forces women to drive for hours for the procedure. Republicans argued that the bill lowers the standards of care and puts women at risk.

GUNS

Detachable magazines

SB 374 Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento

What it would do: Ban the future sale of semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines capable of rapid shooting. Require a person who has lawfully possessed an assault weapon in the past 13 years to register it with the Department of Justice.

Analysis: Brown has not indicated how he will approach legislation to tighten California’s gun laws, which are already considered some of the toughest in the nation. Among the 14 gun bills on his desk, SB 374 is one of the broadest.

Oakland gun control

AB 180 Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda

What it would do: Allow Oakland to enact stricter gun control measures than are currently on the books in California.

Analysis: Gun lobbyist Craig DeLuz called this the most troubling gun bill being considered by Brown due to its potential for each county to seek various gun-related provisions for their residents. Proponents say Oakland’s gun violence warrants action. Oakland has led the state with 131 homicides and over 4,000 gun-related crimes last year.

Gun ban list

SB 755 Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis

What it would do: Expands the list of crimes that result in a 10-year ban on owning a firearm to include driving under the influence and public intoxication when there are two convictions in three years.

Analysis: Researchers say the bill addresses a statistic worth noting, that more than 35 percent of prison and jail inmates convicted of violent crimes say they were intoxicated at the time of their crime. Under SB 755, the clock resets to zero if there are subsequent convictions for substance abuse. The California Public Defenders Association opposes the bill, saying there is no nexus between a vehicle code violation and the need for a firearm ban.

Lead ammunition

AB 711 Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood

What it would do: Ban the use of lead ammunition in hunting by no later than 2019 and requires the Fish and Game Commission to certify acceptable non-lead bullets.

Analysis: Proponents say the use of lead ammunition possess a significant health risk to humans and animals when it is discharged on state lands or near waterways. Gun lobbyists have portrayed the ban as an attack on hunting, saying there could be a non-lead ammunition shortage that would make bullets hard to find and expensive. However, similar concerns following a 2008 ban on lead ammunition in eight counties as a means of protecting California Condor did not materialize.

OTHER

Sex abuse claims

SB 131 Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose

What it would do: Extend the statute of limitations for some sex abuse victims.

Analysis: The bill opens a yearlong window for sex abuse victims who were excluded from a 2003 law extending that extended the statute of limitations. Some paint the bill as an attack on the Catholic Church, while the church’s political arm calls it a trial lawyer money grab. Brown, a former Catholic seminarian, has not commented on the measure.

Read more articles by Melody Gutierrez



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