Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation imposing the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.
Brown on Tuesday signed the bill by Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles.
Plastic bags will be phased out of large grocery stores starting next July and convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. The legislation is meant to encourage consumers to bring their own bags and as a way to reduce litter.
The bill preserves more than 100 local plastic bag bans, including in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Grocers support the ban because it sets a statewide standard and allows them to charge consumers a 10 cent fee for using paper bags.
Plastic and paper bag manufacturers opposed to the legislation say it will result in lost manufacturing jobs in California.
The American Progressive Bag Alliance, an industry trade group, hopes to use the initiative process to thwart the law before it takes effect.
By the end of the year, the group plans to collect more than 500,000 signatures on a referendum to overturn the law. If the referendum is certified, the law would be suspended until the issue is put before voters in November 2016.
In a statement, the group said its research indicated the majority of Californians oppose the bag ban.
A bill-signing spree
The governor has been busy for the past several days taking action on an assortment of bills that will change the state's school discipline procedures, regulate the ballot initiative process and extend new rights for transgender people, among other things.
He has until the end of Tuesday to decide whether to approve the hundreds of pieces of legislation that have landed on his desk. Here are some highlights of the legislation he has signed so far:
- AB1658 is designed to protect foster youth from identity theft by requiring county child welfare agencies to request credit reports for children 16 years and older. The bill is by Democratic Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer ofLos Angeles.
- AB1761 by Democratic Assemblyman Isadore Hall of Compton encourages social workers to keep children with relatives when they enter the foster care system.
- SB1252 by Democratic Sen. Norma Torres of Pomona extends housing to foster youth up to age 25 if they are completing a secondary education.
AB 420 will prevent California schools from expelling students for willfully defying school authorities, putting an end to a punishment that activists say is unevenly applied and disproportionately affects minority students. The Los Angeles Unified School District changed its school discipline policies in August, reducing punishment for low-level offenses like possession of marijuana and picking fights.
SB 1253, meant to modernize California's century-old initiative process, will introduce a 30-day public review period at the beginning of the initiative process when proponents can amend their initiative in response to public input or simply ignore the public comments. Legislative committees will be required to hold public hearings once initiative supporters collect 25 percent of the signatures needed to place a measure on the ballot.
A new law will provide $3 million in funding to provide lawyers for unaccompanied minors in immigration proceedings following a surge in the arrival of Central American children on the border. The money will be given to qualified nonprofit organizations to help represent the children in deportation proceedings.
One of 21 bills designed to help veterans will create a new veterans cemetery in Orange County, the Los Angeles Times reports.
A pair of bills designed to increase protections for potential victims of domestic violence were signed into law. One is intended to help protect children during court proceedings and after suspected abusers are released from custody by closing a loophole in state law that excludes children from being covered by domestic violence protective orders. The second law requires judges who deny petitions for protective orders to state their reasons. It also lets judges issue restraining orders based solely on the testimony of the person requesting the order.
Transgender people have the right to have their gender identity properly recognized on death certificates under AB 1577, which requires the person who fills out a death certificate for a transgender person to record the sex that reflects his or her gender identity. Under the law, this would be determined by the person who is in the best position to know.
AB1 789 will accelerate the review of an insecticide that may be killing honey bees. The new law sets a timeline and requirements for an ongoing pesticide review of compounds known as neonicotinoids, the most widely used class of insecticides that are acutely toxic to bees. They are suspected of being among several factors, including disease and declining forage space, leading to the collapse of honey bee colonies throughout the U.S.
Starting in 2016, California's major airports will have to offer a private room for mothers to breastfeed or pump milk. AB 1787 requires terminals at existing airports to offer rooms with a chair and an electrical outlet for the pump, while new terminals must include rooms with sinks. It applies to airports serving more than 1 million passengers a year. San Francisco International is the only airport in California currently offering such accommodations.
A series of bills aimed at protecting senior citizens were signed into law on Sunday, including a measure that would increase staffing, licensing and training requirements for assisted living facilities.
Citing the added expenses the state incurred in fighting wildfires this year, Brown vetoed legislation that would have given the University of California and California State University systems a $100 million financial boost. The budget Brown signed this summer included the $100 million— if the state received a certain level of revenue from property taxes. But Brown said those tax revenues didn't materialize.
Brown vetoed a group of bills that aimed to promote transparency in governance and provide greater disclosure in political campaigns. AB194 would have prohibited local legislative bodies such as school boards and city councils from blocking public comments that criticize government policies or staff. AB400 would have required initiative, referendum or recall petitions being circulated for signatures to clearly state the top five donors who contributed more than $10,000 apiece to fund the campaign.
This story has been updated.