Thursday, September 1, 2011

OC Register: Last-minute legislation introduced in California Legislature

Last-minute proposals introduced in Legislature

by BRIAN JOSEPH, Sacramento Correspondent

The Orange County Register, August 31st, 2011, 5:56 pm

With time ticking away on this year’s legislative session, state lawmakers have started the annual ritual of introducing last-minute proposals of potentially major impact.

Four legislative bills have been introduced to raise a surcharge on Californians’ electric bills. The surcharge, known as the public goods charge, was set to expire at the end of this year, but Senate Bill 870, SBx1 28, SBx1 29 and Assembly Bill 724 extend the sunset date of the charge, or take some other similar action, to provide funding for renewable energy and energy research.

Another bill, SB 791, would grant local transportation agencies the ability to seek gas surcharges with a vote of the people. Money raised by the surcharges would be used to fund transportation projects, but the fees could only be levied with a majority vote of the people.

Finally, there’s increasing talk that the entertainment conglomerate Anschutz Entertainment Group will get a bill introduced soon to exempt a proposed downtown LA football stadium from some elements of the California Environmental Quality Act. A proposed NFL stadium in the City of Industry was granted a similar exemption a few years ago by the Legislature. The Orange County Register’s Scott Reid will have more on this in tomorrow’s newspaper.

Other issues that could be in play include regulatory reforms and a proposed increase of the state’s vehicle license fee to cover law enforcement expenses.

Meanwhile, the Legislature continued slogging through its remaining bills. Among those addressed today were several education-related proposals, including:
  • AB 131, the California Dream Act, which would make illegal immigrant college students eligible for public financial aid. The bill, by Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo, was passed out of the Senate and now awaits final approval by the Assembly.
  • AB 844, which would allow illegal immigrant CSU and community college students to serve in student government and receive payment or other benefits that come with the position. That bill stems from a situation last year at Fresno State where Pedro Ramirez was elected student body President, but worked without pay because of his immigration status.  It was passed by the Assembly and is now headed to Gov. Jerry Brown‘s desk for his signature or veto.
  • AB 795, which grants the CSU system and California community colleges the authority to enforce smoking policies through fines or citations. It too was passed by the Assembly and is now headed to the governor’s desk.
  • AB 194, which requires CSU and community colleges to give priority enrollment to foster youth starting in 2017. It was passed out of the Senate and is now headed to the Assembly.
The state Legislature wraps up business this year on Sept. 9. The Legislature is expected to be working all day Thursday and Friday of this week as well as working all day from Sept. 6 through Sept. 9.

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