Capitol Alert

Which bills will Jerry Brown sign?

Gov. Jerry Brown, left, listens to Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León on Sept. 9 as they announce they will abandon efforts this year to require a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in motor vehicles by 2050.
Gov. Jerry Brown, left, listens to Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León on Sept. 9 as they announce they will abandon efforts this year to require a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in motor vehicles by 2050. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

After a flurry of action by California lawmakers in the final weeks of the legislative session, the attention now shifts to Gov. Jerry Brown, who will act on an estimated 640 bills over the next month. The vast majority are authored by Democrats, standard for the overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature, and must be dealt with by Oct. 11 – except for the controversial assisted-death proposal. For that bill – the only measure passed in the special sessions on health care and transportation – Brown will have 12 days to act once it arrives on his desk. Here is a list of legislation we’re watching and a look at the issues that Brown faces as he decides what to do with each one.

Public safety

SB 405 (Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles): Localities would not be able to require that traffic fines be paid before a driver is able to schedule a court appearance to contest the citation.

▪ Analysis: SB 405 originally created an amnesty program for Californians who had lost their driver’s licenses for failing to pay a traffic ticket. When Brown incorporated that proposal into the budget, Hertzberg switched gears with legislation aimed at preventing the types of failure-to-appear fees that can increase the cost of a fine by hundreds of dollars. It would put into law a policy adopted by the state Judicial Council this summer.

SB 333 (Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Manteca): Creates a new felony crime for possession of date-rape drugs with the intent to commit a sexual assault.

▪ Analysis: The narrowly defined crime is a response to last year’s Proposition 47, which bumped mere possession of date-rape drugs down to a misdemeanor, after advocates worried that the change would undermine sexual assault laws. Signing SB 333 would provide Galgiani with a significant legislative victory ahead of what could be a tough re-election battle next year.

AB 953 (Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego): Law enforcement would be required to gather and report detailed information on police stops.

▪ Analysis: In a year that began with calls for legislative action on the strained relationship between communities of color and law enforcement, AB 953 is the only high-profile bill left. Supporters hope it will illuminate evidence of racial profiling, while law enforcement groups argue it will bog officers down with unnecessary paperwork. Activists blocked Brown’s office earlier this month demanding he sign the bill.

SB 178 (Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco): Prohibits police from searching electronic devices for emails, text messages, geolocation data and other personal digital information without a warrant.

▪ Analysis: Despite a late push by law enforcement groups that nearly held up the measure in the Assembly, Leno got his legislation to the governor’s desk with bipartisan support. But Brown has rejected two similar proposals from Leno in the past three years.

SB 11 (Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose): Requires at least 15 hours of training, and three hours of continuing education, for police recruits on responding to people with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities and substance abuse disorders.

▪ Analysis: Even though SB 11 would triple the current training requirement on mental health issues, it received support from some law enforcement groups. It’s a timely bill in the wake of the beating of a possibly mentally ill woman last year by a California Highway Patrol officer that had the CHP commissioner calling for more training.

Environment

SB 350 (Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles): By 2030, California would have to increase to 50 percent from one-third the amount of energy it generates from renewable sources and double the energy efficiency of existing buildings.

▪ Analysis: Stripping out a third provision that would have required a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by motor vehicles was a major defeat for SB 350’s backers, but Brown is certain to sign a bill that encompasses two of his other major environmental initiatives.

AB 1288 (Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego): Gives the Senate Rules Committee and the speaker of the Assembly one appointment each to the California Air Resources Board.

▪ Analysis: When SB 350 opponents tried to negotiate for more legislative oversight of the air board’s extensive regulatory power to reduce emissions, Brown balked, which bodes ill for this late-session gut-and-amend.

AB 1164 (Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles): Cities and counties would not be able to prevent residents from installing drought-friendly landscaping, synthetic grass or artificial turf.

▪ Analysis: Earlier this month, drought-conscious Brown signed legislation putting a similar restriction on homeowners associations.

AB 1390 (Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville): Establishes special procedures for adjudicating disputes over groundwater extraction rights.

▪ Analysis: Pushed by agricultural interests as a follow-up to sweeping new regulations on groundwater pumping signed into law last year by Brown, AB 1390 received near-unanimous support in the Legislature.

AB 888 (Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica): Bans the sale of products containing plastic microbeads, such as exfoliating creams and scrubs, after 2020.

▪ Analysis: This effort to address a growing source of water pollution nearly stalled in the Senate amid heavy opposition from manufacturers and cosmetics companies. Without an exception for biodegradable plastic, it would be the nation’s toughest ban, and signing it would bolster Brown’s environmental credentials in a year where he saw some setbacks on that front.

SB 185 (de León): Instructs the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and State Teachers’ Retirement System to divest from coal companies.

▪ Analysis: Supporters argue that California should not be lending financial support to the coal industry at a time when it is trying to bolster its use of renewable energy, but the CalPERS investment staff has said the bill would diminish their ability to influence how energy companies do business.

Labor

SB 406 (Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara): Expands California’s unpaid family leave policy so workers can take up to 12 weeks off to care for sick siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, domestic partners and parents-in-law.

▪ Analysis: SB 406 is a priority of women’s groups, who notched another victory a few weeks ago when Brown promised to sign an equal pay measure. But that bill lacked the California Chamber of Commerce’s influential “job killer” status, which nearly sunk even a scaled-back version of SB 406 in the Assembly.

SB 548 (de León): Requires at least four additional hours of orientation training for state-funded child care workers focused on state and federal guidelines and available resources.

▪ Analysis: Originally a push to unionize tens of thousands of home-based providers, backers switched gears when they realized that Brown was unlikely to award them collective bargaining rights. Local agencies that provide subsidized child care for poor families have raised concerns that the new version would limit the availability of slots by funneling money toward the training instead.

SB 588 (de León): Permits the labor commissioner to impose a lien on an employer’s property to secure unpaid wages.

▪ Analysis: Though a similar bill failed in the Senate last year, business groups held off any formal opposition to SB 588. After amendments secured additional protections for employers, it passed through both houses with some Republican votes.

Health

ABX2-15 (Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton): Allows doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to patients with less than six months left to live.

▪ Analysis: There is a huge question mark as to what Brown will do with this highly personal bill. His office acknowledged that he called advocate Brittany Maynard before her death last fall, but he scolded the authors for reviving the stalled measure in a special session intended to close shortfalls in health care funding. Many are also wondering how the former Jesuit seminarian will view an issue that has long been vehemently opposed by the Catholic Church.

SB 792 (Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia): Requires flu, whooping cough and measles immunizations for anyone who wants to work or volunteer at a day care center.

▪ Analysis: Nothing this session inspired more vehement opposition than a measure mandating vaccines for California schoolchildren, and Brown signed it without hesitation. SB 792 builds on that effort to protect against the return of some once-eradicated infectious diseases, without the controversy that fiercely divided lawmakers.

AB 1177 (Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles): Primary care clinics that offer abortions could be licensed without a transfer agreement to a nearby hospital.

▪ Analysis: Planned Parenthood argues that current California law allows local hospitals to block abortion providers in the area by refusing to enter a transfer agreement. Despite criticisms that it could put women’s health at risk, AB 1177 faced little trouble in this largely pro-abortion-rights Legislature, and Brown signed another bill expanding abortion access two years ago.

AB 775 (Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco): All facilities offering pregnancy-related services would have to notify clients of the state’s free and low-cost alternative programs for family planning, prenatal care and abortion.

▪ Analysis: AB 775 is primarily a fight over “crisis pregnancy centers,” faith-based organizations that critics charge exist mainly to counsel women into carrying their pregnancies to term, often by giving the impression of medical credentials they do not possess. Brown’s signature would be another victory for abortion rights advocates that argue women are not being fully informed of their reproductive health options, and Attorney General Kamala Harris, who supported the bill amid a U.S. Senate run.

AB 159 (Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier): Permits terminally ill patients to petition pharmaceutical companies for access to experimental drugs that have not yet garnered full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

▪ Analysis: The right-to-try idea is riding a wave of momentum, with more than a dozen states already on board. Opposition from nurses and oncologists could not stop AB 159 from passing with only two no votes in the entire Legislature.

Education

SB 172 (Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge): Suspends the high school exit exam as a graduation requirement through the 2017-18 school year and retroactively since the 2003-04 school year.

▪ Analysis: Lawmakers were already poised to suspend the requirement to account for changing curriculum standards, but after the test provider’s contract expired this summer, stranding thousands of otherwise eligible high school seniors without the ability to take the exam and get their diplomas, Brown requested that the bill encompass past years as well.

AB 967 (Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara): Establishes a minimum punishment of two years’ suspension for students found guilty of sexual assault through college disciplinary proceedings.

▪ Analysis: AB 967 is part of a broad package of legislation this year intended to increase the response to sexual assaults at California colleges, which critics argue would be better left to the criminal justice system. Brown has already signed several of the bills, including one that would allow community colleges to discipline students for assaults that occur off-campus.

AB 787 (Assemblyman Roger Hernández, D-West Covina): Prohibits charter schools from operating as, or being operated by, for-profit corporations.

▪ Analysis: Sponsored by organized labor, AB 787 represents the latest skirmish in a long-running feud between teacher unions, which argue that for-profit schools prioritize shareholders over students, and the charter providers and other education groups that want to overhaul their job protections. Brown tends to side with teachers, but he is also a charter-school advocate who started two while mayor of Oakland.

AB 30 (Alejo): Bans the use of “Redskins” as a school mascot.

▪ Analysis: This is the Legislature’s way of wading into the debate over the name of the Washington, D.C., football team, which critics call outdated and offensive to Native Americans. The bill would affect only four high schools in California, but that didn’t stop then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from vetoing similar legislation in 2004.

Commerce

AB 243 (Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg), AB 266 (Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda), SB 643 (Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg): Set out rules for regulating the medical marijuana industry, including environmental protections, testing, labeling, transportation, distribution and taxes.

▪ Analysis: For the nearly two decades since California voters legalized medical marijuana, political infighting has sunk regulatory efforts. The possibility of a ballot initiative to allow for recreational use looms next year, however, so the Brown administration intervened in the final days of the session to iron out a compromise.

SB 168, SB 170, SB 271 (Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville): Emergency responders would be able to destroy drones that interfere with their work. Drones would not be allowed to fly above prisons and jails or less than 350 feet above a school.

▪ Analysis: The increasing prevalence of drones, both commercially and recreationally, has prompted concerns about privacy and public safety. None of these three bills received a single vote against them. Brown vetoed another measure this year that would have prohibited drones from flying less than 350 feet above private property without the property owner’s permission.

AB 229 (Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar): Through 2019, state agencies could not make policies preventing employees from using ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, or short-term rentals, like Airbnb, for official business.

▪ Analysis: The battle over the so-called sharing economy is increasingly heated at the Capitol as tech companies have stepped up their presence to push back on proposed regulations. AB 229 is more of a shield against potential future bans, but it was supported by less than half of Senate Democrats, many of whom are closely allied with the labor unions that represent taxi drivers and hotel employees.

AB 604 (Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank): Legalizes the use of electric skateboards on highways, bike paths and sidewalks for operators who are at least 16 years of age.

▪ Analysis: Olsen has been working this bill for two years, inviting lawmakers to zip around the Capitol grounds for test rides. It returned to the Legislature in the final days of session for additional safety requirements after late concerns were raised by the Brown administration, so the governor may be poised to sign it.

SB 549 (Sen. Isadore Hall, D-Compton): Authorizes, until 2018, charity raffles at sporting events that split the proceeds 50/50 between the raffle winner and a nonprofit organization.

▪ Analysis: Current law only allows raffles where 90 percent of the proceeds go to charity, so SB 549 has divided nonprofits allied with sports teams from those that are not. Supporters, including California’s professional sports teams, say the bigger payouts will generate more interest in the raffles and consequently more money for charity, while opponents argue that the bill favors select nonprofits and emphasizes gambling over giving.

Animals

AB 96 (Atkins): Extends a ban on the sale of ivory and rhinoceros horns to include items imported before 1977.

▪ Analysis: Animal rights activists are hoping to discourage the illegal poaching that threatens endangered elephants and rhinos, but opponents argue the ban runs roughshod over property and gun owners’ rights. Brown is likely to side with legislative Democrats, who nearly all voted for the measure.

SB 716 (Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens): Handlers would not be allowed to use bullhooks, or any similar object, to train and control elephants.

▪ Analysis: Opposition from some zoos, circus groups and fair associations was not enough to stop SB 716 in the Legislature, where members across both parties agreed with advocates that the sharp-pointed bullhooks harm elephants and should not be allowed.

SB 27 (Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo): Restricts the use of antibiotics in livestock unless prescribed by a veterinarian to treat a disease or infection.

▪ Analysis: Critics point to evidence that the agriculture industry has overused antibiotics to help animals bulk up more quickly with less food, leading to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Brown vetoed a similar bill last year because it formalized a voluntary federal guideline that he said most major animal producers had already pledged to comply with.

Miscellaneous

AB 1461 (Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego): Every eligible Californian would be automatically registered to vote through transactions with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

▪ Analysis: Many proposals have been put forth to address California’s record-low voter turnout in the last election, mostly by Democrats, whose candidates and causes benefit when turnout increases. This one is a priority for Secretary of State Alex Padilla, whom Brown swore into office in January.

SB 539 (Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda): Prohibits California schools, roads and other public property from being named for Confederate leaders.

▪ Analysis: Introduced this summer in the wake of a racially motivated shooting at a black church in Charleston, S.C., SB 539 has inspired debates over how history should be remembered. It is the first bill that Glazer, a former Brown adviser, has advanced to the governor’s desk.

SB 249 (Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego): Creates an enhanced driver’s license which can be used at border crossings as proof of both identity and citizenship.

▪ Analysis: SB 249 is supported by cities and chambers of commerce along the California-Mexico border that would like to speed up long wait times, but civil liberties groups are worried that microchips embedded in the licenses, containing personal identifying information and readable from up to 30 feet away, would be susceptible to be tampering and could be used for racial profiling.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

  Comments