Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Senate committee to take up family visa issue

The policy over the issuing of visas is a key component of new immigration laws that are being debated in Congress.

The Senate Judiciary Committee continues debating more than 300 amendments to a comprehensive immigration bill. One big issue is still to come: the sticky topic of family visas.

Currently, about two-thirds of legal immigrants are family members of legal U.S. residents.

The Senate bill makes employment visas a higher priority and creates a point system making it more difficult to obtain family visas. It would completely eliminate sibling visas 18 months after the bill's passage. There would be no visas offered to children who are married and over the age of 31.

Hawaii Democrat Mazie Hirono has introduced several amendments to ease family visa restrictions. They are expected to be taken up Tuesday or Wednesday. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont says the committee could finish its work on amendments by the end of the week.

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California Senate passes bill to clear up state laws on medical pot

Medical Marijuana

Bear Guerra/KPCC

Cody Blake, an employee at Perennial Holisitic Wellness Center in Studio City, displays one of the dispensary's popular marijuana strains. The state legislature is seeking to put current guidelines for dispensaries into law.

California’s Senate passed a bill Monday that would shield pot collectives and their employees from prosecution for possession or sale of medical marijuana.

"We want to create more certainty where little or none exists now," said Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who wrote the bill.  Steinberg hoped it  would at least provide “a vehicle for some sort of understanding with the federal government.”

The federal government does not recognize state laws that allow the sale or possession of medical marijuana. The U.S. Justice Department periodically targets clinics, especially those it believes are operating as commercial businesses. 

Senate Bill 439 would put into statute a set of guidelines California’s Attorney General issued in 2008 that defines the kind of operations allowed under Prop 215 — California’s Compassionate Use Act.

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President Clinton robocalls for Wendy Greuel on eve of election

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Los Angeles voters may hear a familiar voice on the phone today -- it's former President Bill Clinton placing a robocall for Wendy Greuel.

Ring, ring -- it's Bill Clinton -- and he's calling for you

Los Angeles voters may hear a familiar voice on the phone today as a robocall from former President Bill Clinton makes the rounds on behalf of Wendy Greuel. Clinton endorsed Greuel early in the race and last month appeared with her at a town hall at Langer's Deli. 

On the call, Clinton tells voters:

Los Angeles needs a proven, creative problem solver. Who will work with everybody to get the job done as mayor. Wendy Greuel will get the job done. She won’t just be the first woman mayor of LA – she’ll be the best mayor.

Greuel worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton Administration. Following the endorsement, a poll from USC and the Los Angeles Times found more than half of voters would be inclined to vote for a candidate supported by Clinton. The most recent USC/Los Angeles Times poll found 3 percent of Greuel supporters identified the Clinton endorsement as the main reason to vote for her. 

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Maven's Morning Coffee: mayoral campaigns wrap up, Villaraigosa gets a hall at LAX, city attorney candidates decline debate

Garcetti Greuel pano image

It's the final day of the mayoral campaign for Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Monday, May 20, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

In Rick Orlov's Tipoff column, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa heads to China -- having just returned from Dubai, and City Hall prepares for a mayoral transition.

Los Angeles Times writer Jim Newton says the office of mayor will enlarge its next occupant -- Eric Garcetti or Wendy Greuel. "Garcetti would, I think, be a more creative and daring leader, willing to try new things in areas such as technology and community organization. Greuel would be a more reliable mayor, a solid, dependable steward of the government and a determined advocate for residents," he writes.

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Last week for CA Senate committee to advance gun control bills

Kevin de León (D-LA) chairs the State Senate Appropriations Committee.

A State Senate committee is scheduled to decide Thursday whether to advance a package of gun control bills in order for the full legislature to consider them this session.

The collection of measures Democrats call the “Life Act" includes a few intended to restrict various designs and devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly. Democrats have said the bills close loopholes that gun manufacturers exploit to sell assault style weapons in California—despite a 1989 state ban. 

Another bill by Sen. Kevin de León (D-LA) would require a license and background check to purchase ammunition. 

Republican lawmakers have voted against the restrictions on guns and ammunition.  They say the bills would make it harder for law-abiding people to defend themselves, while criminals will continue to get their guns illegally.

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