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An exterior of the state capitol building in Sacramento, California.
Last Friday, September 9th, was the last day of the legislative year and the last chance for California’s congress to send legislation to the governor’s desk. The democratic controlled congress pushed through a number of controversial bills, angering their republican counterparts. In the 11th hour lawmaking flurry, some bills were gutted and amended, other’s brought back from the dead and some were written late in the day and came before both houses after midnight. That’s the case with one of the most polarizing of the last minute bills, a measure that would push all ballot initiatives from the June ballot to the November general election. The bill’s author, democratic Senator Loni Hancock of Berkley, says it gives more of the electorate a chance to vote on important measures. Republicans, however, see it as a cynical power grab. Another bill that will soon cross Governor Brown’s desk is one that would ban alcohol sales in self-checkout lines. The goal is to control youth access to alcohol and the bill was supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and several law enforcement groups. Critics contend it’s nothing more than a nod to powerful grocery unions. Governor Brown hasn’t given any hints about how he’s leaning on that one or on another bill that gives online retailer Amazon another year before it’s forced to collect California sales tax. That measure is being called a “classic compromise” by lawmakers, but it would deprive California coffers of about $200 million dollars in revenue. So, what will actually receive the governor’s signature? Did democrats overstep in trying to curtail the initiative process? And how will California’s bottom line be affected by last week’s legislative whirlwind?
John Myers, Sacramento bureau chief for KQED's California Report