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It's a Busy Day at the Capitol Ahead of Tomorrow's Deadline

 
It's a Busy Day at the Capitol Ahead of Tomorrow's Deadline
Posted May 29th, 2014 @ 2:17pm by KFBK News - Mike Simpson

Tomorrow is the deadline for bills to make it out of their house of origin, and it's been a busy day down at the Capitol.

  • Paid Sick Leave -- California's employers would be required to offer paid sick time to all of their workers under legislation that has passed out of the Assembly. Republicans call the bill by Lorena Gonzales a "job killer" that will force more companies to leave the state. It would require employers to provide one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked -- with a maximum of three days per year. Gonzales says it will make sure workers don't have to make a choice between going to work while ill or taking a child to the doctor -- while losing pay. 

  • Minimum Wage Increase -- The state Senate has approved a measure that would raise California's minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2017. Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco says he wants to fight income inequality and that the current minimum wage is so low that many workers who receive it are eligible for public assistance. Republicans and some in the business community counter the change will lead to higher prices or layoffs. The bill would raise the minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2015 and 13 by 2017. Last year, lawmakers approved a bill to raise the wage to $10 by 2016.

 

  • Pre-Kindergarten -- Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's plan to offer free kindergarten to the state's low-income four-year-olds has passed out of his chamber. It's a pared-down proposal from an original idea that called for free classes for all of the state's children. There's a $370 million dollar price tag for this latest push. Expect the bill to be at the center of upcoming budget negotiations with the Brown administration. Steinberg says 77,000 families could take advantage of the new opportunity.

  • All-Mail Special Elections --The State Assembly has passed legislation for all-mail special elections. Democratic Assemblyman Kevin Mullin of South San Francisco says he's concerned about low turnout and the cost of seat shuffling among elected officials. He says turning mailboxes into polling places would solve both problems. Under the legislation, special elections to fill vacancies in the Legislature or Congress could be conducted exclusively by mail if the boards of supervisors in all involved counties agree.

  • Fracking Ban -- An effort to ban the controversial oil extraction process known as fracking has failed in the California Senate. Lawmakers rejected a bill that would have banned the practice until a state study proved it is safe. Opponents say the law made no sense since the legislature passed a bill last year to regulate the fracking industry. The bill is eligible for reconsideration today.

  • GMO Labeling -- Lawmakers in the Senate rejected a proposal to label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients yesterday, but the bill will be back up for consideration today. Senator Noreen Evans, a Democrat from Santa Rosa, says her measure would add California to the 64 countries around the world that have laws requiring GMO labeling. She says those concerned about their diets should have more infromation about what they're eating. Major growers and biotech companies are opposed. They say most of the corn and soybeans grown in the US are modified in some way.

  • Community College Degrees -- A bill that would allow some community colleges to offer four-year degrees has passed out of the Senate. Democrat Marty Block authored the measure to close what he calls a "skills gap" where people aren't trained for the jobs that are available. The measure would allow certain community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees in some key workforce areas. Fifteen campuses would qualify. The four-year programs would not be able to duplicate something that's already offered at a UC or CSU school.

  • College Sex Assaults -- The Senate has passed a bill aimed at better addressing sexual assaults on college campuses. Co-authored by Democrats Hannah Beth Jackson and Bonnie Lowenthal, the legislation would establish consent standards in determining whether a crime has been committed. The pair say education programs would also be put into place on campuses. They want to fight a campus culture that "stigmatizes survivors" of assaults.

  • Initiative Changes -- The Senate has thrown some bipartisan support behind a measure to amend the state's ballot initiative process. The legislation, from Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, would require website summaries of measures be posted, as well as a list of the top ten financial backers of an initiative. Once 25,000 signatures are gathered, legislative hearings would be held on the issue. That could potentially lead to a legislative compromise. Backers could then withdraw their initiative before it qualified for the ballot.

  • Jail Sentences for Drug Offenders -- The Assembly has approved a bill to remove mandatory jail sentences for some drug offenders. AB 2492 would remove a three-month jail mandate for those convicted to being under the influence of drugs. A similar idea failed last week when it was presented by Tim Donnelly, a Republican gubernatorial candidate. This new version was presented by a Democrat.

  • Solitary Confinement -- Changes are coming to how inmates are kept in solitary confinement in California prisons.  State Senator Loni Hancock's bill passed the full Senate this week and now heads to the Assembly.  Hancock says the current system for solitary confinement isolates prisoners for long periods of time and has a negative impact on rehabilitation and long-term public safety.  Her bill includes banning the placement of seriously mentally-ill inmates in solitary and giving solitary confinement inmates mental and physical stimulation.

Bills that passed will now move to the opposite chamber. Budget negotiations with the Brown administration will continue through June. 

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