Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sacramento Bee: Some of the 600 bills awaiting Governor's consideration

600 bills on Jerry's desk

The Sacramento Bee
Published: Saturday, Sep. 17, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
  © Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.
Here's a look at a few of the approximately 600 bills on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk, the vast majority authored by Democrats who control the Legislature. Brown has until Oct. 9 to act.


Needle exchange
AB 604 (Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley)

What it would do: Allow the state Department of Public Health to authorize a needle-exchange program in any city or county where it determines that conditions exist for rapid spread of HIV, viral hepatitis or other potentially deadly or disabling infections.

Analysis: The lobbying battle pits supporters ­ AIDS activists, other health care advocates and the nurses union ­ against cities and a smattering of law enforcement groups. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed similar efforts.

Chemical ban
AB 1319 (Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, D-Marina del Rey)
What it would do: Ban the chemical BPA ­ bisphenol A ­ from baby bottles, sippy cups and other food and beverage containers intended for children ages 3 and younger.
Analysis: Doctors, nurses and environmental groups pushed the bill, arguing that safer alternatives exist, while business and manufacturing groups say the chemical is safe as now used.

Epilepsy medication
SB 161 (Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar)
What it would do: Allow school districts to let nonmedical school employees who volunteer and receive training to administer anti-seizure medication to epileptic students.
Analysis: School districts pushed the bill, citing a dwindling number of on-site school nurses. The nurses union and others in organized labor fought the bill, arguing that the medication, which is given rectally, should be administered only by licensed medical personnel.

Autism coverage
SB 166 (Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento) What it would do: Require health insurance policies to cover certain autism early intervention behavioral therapy.
Analysis: Autism advocates said the bill ensures that autistic children will get treatment, while insurers and health plans say the mandate will drive up costs for policyholders. Steinberg exempted publicly funded health plans ­ Medi-Cal, Healthy Families and plans that cover state employees ­ which lowers the public cost and may make it more attractive to Brown.

Tanning beds
SB 746 (Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance)
What it would do: Prohibit children under 18 years old from using tanning beds.
Analysis: California would be the first state in the nation to ban minors from fake baking. Brown will weigh health arguments from doctors, nurses and the American Cancer Society against the tanning industry, which argues the current law ­ requiring parental consent for tanners between ages 14 and 18 ­ is working.


Open carry
AB 144 (Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada-Flintridge)
What it would do: Criminalize openly carrying an unloaded handgun in public. The bill exempts peace officers, military gatherings, gun shows and hunting.
Analysis: The measure, pushed by law enforcement and opposed by gun rights groups, targets the "open carry" movement, marked by gatherings of people displaying their firearms in public places to protest gun-control laws.

Sobriety checkpoints
AB 353 and AB 1389 (Assemblymen Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles and Mike Allen, D-Santa Rosa)
What they would do: AB 353 restricts local police from impounding cars at sobriety checkpoints solely because a driver is unlicensed. AB 1389 defines how sobriety checkpoints are to be conducted in line with a California Supreme Court decision.
Analysis: Both bills seek to stop what some see as a money-making scheme by some small cities, which use sobriety checkpoints to impound thousands of cars from unlicensed low-income drivers who can't afford to retrieve them. Law enforcement groups and Mothers Against Drunk Driving oppose AB 1389.

Rifle sales records
AB 809 (Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles)
What it would do: Require the state to keep records of rifle sales, as it does now for handguns.
Analysis: Police and gun control advocates say the measure, which would take effect in January 2014, would increase public safety by informing law enforcement of what guns they may face at a crime scene. Opponents say it would accomplish little because criminals do not comply with gun registration rules.

Cellphones in prisons
SB 26 (Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles)
What it would do: Toughen restrictions on inmates having cellphones inside prisons and prescribe a six-month sentence and a fine up to $5,000 for smuggling a cell phone into a prison.
Analysis: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar version of this bill last year, saying it was too soft on inmates who have cellphones and prison guards and others who smuggle them.


Child-care providers
AB 101 (Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles) What it would do: Allow unions to organize child-care providers who work out of the home and handle subsidized clients.
Analysis: The bill was pushed by two large unions: Service Employees International Union and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, vetoed similar legislation four times, noting that it would increase the state's costs of providing child care.

Alcohol and self-checkout lanes
AB 183 (Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco) What it would do: Prohibit grocery stores from selling beer, wine or liquor using electronic self-checkout lanes.
Analysis: The bill was pushed by the grocery clerks' union and police chiefs, who argued that it would help stop underage drinking. Business groups and grocers opposed the measure, noting that clerks oversee alcohol sales at self-checkout lanes now. They said the bill was motivated by the clerks' union trying to stop Fresh & Easy, a nonunion chain that uses only staff-supervised self-checkout lanes.

SB 126 (Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento) What it would do: Give farmworkers greater protections in labor organizing disputes with growers by tightening the Agricultural Labor Relations Board timelines, toughening mandatory mediation and allowing the board to certify a labor organization if it finds gross employer misconduct that prevents a fair union election in the future.
Analysis: Brown will sign it because it is a compromise he proposed after he vetoed a bill that would have let farmworkers organize by submitting signed petition cards instead of by secret ballot.

Construction labor agreements
SB 922 (Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento)
What it would do: Prohibit cities and counties, either by ordinance or ballot measure, from adopting a blanket ban of project labor agreements on construction projects, which typically favor unionized workers.
Analysis: The bill pits building trades unions against contractors. Several cities have passed or are considering ballot measures to outlaw consideration of project labor agreements. Bill supporters say they are valuable tools that should be an option for projects.


Shark fins
AB 376 (Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino) What it would do: Ban sale or possession of shark fins, the chief ingredient in shark fin soup. A companion measure, Assembly Bill 853, exempts sharks legally caught by California fishermen.
Analysis: Brown will balance the positions of environmentalists against the traditions of the Chinese American community. "Finning" is already illegal in California, but the possession of imported fins is not.

Los Angeles stadium
SB 292 and AB 900 (Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo)
What they would do: SB 292 would provide for an expedited judicial review of environmental challenges to a proposed NFL football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. AB 900 extends the same break to large projects involving clean energy generation or downtown stadiums that get environmental certification.
Analysis: The developer and building trades union blew into town at the end of session to get an environmental break approaching one that lawmakers approved two years ago for a rival stadium project in Industry. Perhaps to appease Brown, they also passed AB 900, to extend the break to large projects involving clean energy generation or downtown stadiums that get environmental certification. The bills are written in such a way that Brown must sign the Los Angeles stadium measure for the broader proposal to become law.


Online sales tax
AB 155 (Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Whittier)
What it would do: Avert the ballot fight over online sales tax by giving and other online retailers until July 31, 2012, to persuade Congress to develop nationwide standards authorizing states to require online retailers to collect sales taxes. If they don't succeed, the companies would be required to collect the taxes beginning Sept. 15, 2012.
Analysis: Amazon cut the deal with brick-and-mortar retailers such as Wal-Mart, and lawmakers approved it overwhelmingly. Brown has bemoaned the $200 million hit to the state budget this year, but the referendum Amazon was prepared to file would have halted the collection law until next June anyway.

Budget reform
SB 14 (Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis)
What it would do: Require the state to begin "performance-based budgeting." Each state department would have to provide lawmakers its goals, performance measures, target outcomes and performance data from previous years. Analysis: This could be a no-brainer for Brown. It passed unanimously and was pushed by a long list of good-government, labor and business groups. Tax breaks SB 508 (Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis) What it would do: Require all corporate and individual tax breaks enacted after Jan. 1 to automatically end in 10 years. Each proposed tax break would have to include specific goals and performance criteria.
Analysis: The automatic sunset would change a political dynamic that nags Democrats, at least for future tax breaks: They can pass on a majority vote, but require a two-thirds vote to repeal. Republicans and their business allies opposed the bill, arguing that the sunset provision should apply to spending proposals, too.


Fingerprint requirement
AB 6 (Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar)
What it would do: Among other things, remove the requirement that food stamp recipients be fingerprinted.
Analysis: Supporters note that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited the fingerprinting requirement as one reason California has one of the worst participation rates in the federal food stamp program. Previous attempts either died in the Legislature or were vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Dream Act II
AB 131 (Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles)
What it would do: Allow undocumented California State University and community college students who are eligible for in-state tuition to receive publicly funded student aid.
Analysis: Brown sought and received changes in the bill to lower its costs by not allowing graduates of technical schools and adult schools to participate, and delaying implementation until January 2013. He signed a companion bill that allows students access to private financial aid.

Ballot measures
SB 202 (Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley)
What it would do: Require all initiatives be put before voters in November elections and move a legislative-approved ballot measure on spending restrictions from the June 2012 ballot to November 2014.
Analysis: The bill was pushed by unions, which want the anti-labor "paycheck protection" measure to appear on next November's ballot, when they believe the political conditions will be more favorable for them to defeat it.

Online voter registration
SB 397 (Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco)
What it would do: Allow for creation of an online voter registration system ­ using signatures from the DMV to verify eligibility ­ in time for the 2012 election.
Analysis: Supported by voters groups, the bill was opposed by the DMV, which could signal a veto. The department believes developing the system in time for next year's election is unrealistic.

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