When California rang in the new year by introducing driver’s licenses for immigrants in the country illegally, it marked a watershed moment for the state. For fifteen years, advocates pushed for the law, a perpetual battle in California’s debate over illegal immigration. The response has exceeded all expectations.
What is the next front in immigrant rights activists’ push for acceptance? A new legislative package may provide a hint.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, and Assembly members Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, and Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, will unveil ten bills that de León’s office describes as “a continuance of the Legislature’s pursuit to ensure liberty and justice for undocumented immigrants, while providing avenues into the economic mainstream and out of the shadows,” 10:30 a.m. in Room 1190 of the Capitol.
GREEN DAY: The Green California Summit, a two-day exposition of new technologies and practices that could help the state achieve its environmental goals, kicks off at 8:30 a.m. in the Sacramento Convention Center with a keynote speech from de León, who is pushing legislation this year to increase the percentage of electricity California derives from renewable resources. The bill will be up for its first hearing later in the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee, 9:30 a.m. in Room 3191 of the Capitol, with billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer on hand to testify in its favor. With a renewed focus this year on reducing California’s greenhouse gas emissions, the American Chemistry Council, the California Building Industry Association and others have also planned a showcase of environmentally-friendly construction that could help homes and business save energy and water, 11 a.m. on the north lawn.
EXILE ON MAIN STREET: An effort two years ago to create a “homeless bill of rights” generated a lot of attention before dying in committee. Now, as advocates argue that California cities have criminalized homelessness, Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge, is reviving the idea with SB 608, which would guarantee people a “right to use public space without discrimination based on their housing status.” Supporters, including the Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee, will rally on the west lawn of the Capitol at 11 a.m., before the bill goes before the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee for its first hearing.
ONE FOR THE MONEY: Gearing up for contract renegotiations, the California Faculty Association will hold a noon rally on the south steps of the Capitol, where they will release the third in a series of reports arguing that California State University professors’ salaries have not kept up with the times. The event is part of the faculty association’s legislative lobby day, where they will advocate for increased funding for the CSU system.
HOT SHOTS: Ahead of the legislation’s first committee hearing tomorrow, opponents of the mandatory vaccinations bill are hosting a screening of the film Trace Amounts, which links soaring autism rates to the presence of mercury in vaccines, 5:30 p.m. at the Crest Theater on K Street. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who plans to attend, previously took the movie to Oregon, where lawmakers shelved a similar bill last month.
NEW JOB: After years of doing press at the Capitol, Senate Republican Caucus communications director Peter DeMarco is moving into the world of lobbying. DeMarco will start next Friday as the director of legislative affairs for Orange County, lobbying and overseeing advocacy efforts in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Gov. Jerry Brown, who turns 77 today. What else do you think is on his wish list besides water?
Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.