Politics

Brown's signing tsunami: A rundown of bills the governor has made law this week

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 19: California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference to announce emergency drought legislation on March 19, 2015 in Sacramento, California. As California enters its fourth year of severe drought, California Gov. Jerry Brown joined Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Republican Leaders Senator Bob Huff and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen to announce emergency legislation that aims to assist local communities that are struggling with devastating drought. The $1 billion package is designed to expedite bond funding to help ensure that all Californians have access to local water supplies. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 19: California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference to announce emergency drought legislation on March 19, 2015 in Sacramento, California. As California enters its fourth year of severe drought, California Gov. Jerry Brown joined Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Republican Leaders Senator Bob Huff and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen to announce emergency legislation that aims to assist local communities that are struggling with devastating drought. The $1 billion package is designed to expedite bond funding to help ensure that all Californians have access to local water supplies. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Governor Jerry Brown has finished signing or vetoing a slew of legislation that's been passed by the state Senate and Assembly.  

Any item unsigned will automatically become law. The fate of bills that have been vetoed will be decided by lawmakers.

Rejected bills will go back to the House where they originated for further consideration and require a two-thirds vote by both houses to overturn the veto. 

Here's a roundup of key legislation the governor has either signed into law or vetoed in the past week. We'll keep it updated as new bills are signed or vetoed.

Signed into law

Vetoed 

Signed into law

'Wage theft' bill targets employers that shortchange workers

Gov. Jerry Brown has endorsed a "wage theft" bill to crack down on employers that shortchange workers.

He announced Sunday that he signed SB588 by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, making it easier for the state labor commissioner to collect unpaid wages on behalf of workers.

The legislation by the Los Angeles Democrat allows the labor commissioner to file a lien on an employer's property to help employees collect unpaid wages.

Advocates say wage theft disproportionately affects low-wage workers, immigrants and women because some employers pay less than the minimum wage or skirt overtime pay. - AP

California day care workers will need vaccines

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill to further strengthen California's mandatory vaccine laws by requiring that people who work or volunteer at day care centers be vaccinated against certain diseases.

The Democratic governor announced Sunday that he approved a bill requiring day care centers and homes to maintain immunization records proving their workers and volunteers have been vaccinated for the flu, pertussis and the measles.

Lawmakers approved SB792 by Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza of Artesia this fall after an earlier debate over vaccinations in schools roiled the Capitol for months.

In June Brown signed a hotly contested bill imposing one of the strictest school vaccination laws in the country, following an outbreak of measles at Disneyland late last year. - AP

Public schools can't call their sport teams, mascots 'Redskins'

California public schools will be barred from using the Redskins name for sports teams and mascots under legislation Gov. Jerry Brown signed.

The legislation, AB30, will prevent public schools from using a term that American Indians regard as offensive, starting in 2017.

Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo of Watsonville says the name dates from a period in California history when bounty hunters were rewarded for slaying Native Americans and should not be dignified with school affiliations.

Only four schools in California still have teams or mascots called the Redskins. A federal panel ruled last year that the team trademark for NFL's Washington Redskins should be canceled, but the team is challenging the decision.

Brown rejected separate legislation on Sunday that bans naming parks, schools and other public property after Confederate leaders. - AP

 

Concealed weapons banned from schools, universities

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill banning concealed weapons from California schools and universities, a measure that drew renewed attention after a recent massacre at an Oregon community college.

SB707 by Democratic Sen. Lois Wolk of Davis will prohibit people with concealed weapons permits from carrying firearms on school and college campuses.

People who have concealed carry permits would be allowed to carry firearms within 1,000 feet of a public or private K-12 school, but not on the grounds.

Retired law enforcement officers who are authorized by their former agency to carry concealed weapons would be exempt. Police chiefs and school districts could also set their own concealed weapons policies.

Gun owners' groups said they would/would have immediately sued to challenge the bill that Brown approved on Saturday.

 

Nation's strictest livestock antibiotics bill

Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday signed the nation’s toughest livestock antibiotics bill that will limit when and how these medications can be used in meat production.

Using antibiotics to speed up the growth of poultry, cows and other livestock is common practice in the U.S. meat industry and one that poses a serious public threat, health experts say.

That’s because feeding these drugs to livestock that aren’t sick kills off weaker bacteria, creating the perfect breeding ground for drug-resistant 'superbugs' that can infect livestock and people.

The new law, by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), bans the use of antibiotics in animals that are not sick. It also puts veterinarians in charge of antibiotic use in meat production; requires the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to develop a program to track antimicrobial use in livestock and to track the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Read more about this story here

- Stephanie O' Neill

Motor Voter program

Gov. Jerry Brown has approved a law to begin automatically registering eligible voters when they obtain or renew their drivers' licenses.

Brown announced Saturday that he had signed AB1461 by Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, which aims to boost California's voter rolls by registering visitors to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The legislation is supported by Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla. It follows Oregon's move earlier this year to adopt the nation's first automatic voter registration law.

Lawmakers approved the so-called motor voter law this summer and have held events around the state encouraging Brown to sign it.

Some Republican lawmakers say voters shouldn't be forced to sign up. They warn that automatic registration could lead to voter fraud if people who are not eligible are accidentally registered. - AP

Transparency in labor negotiations

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a union-backed bill that responds to recent decisions by some local governments to reveal more details of labor negotiations.

SB331 by Democratic state Sen. Tony Mendoza of Artesia applies only to Orange County and a few Los Angeles and Orange County cities that adopted broader disclosure standards.

The standards call for disclosing collective bargaining proposals and counterproposals, among other details.

Brown announced Friday that he signed the bill requiring those governments to also make public any contracts worth $50,000 or more. Opponents say that could affect numerous contracts covering everything from clerical services to trash removal.

The First Amendment Coalition and The Sacramento Bee's editorial board were among opponents that said the law will obscure labor negotiations rather than make them more transparent. — AP

Health care for immigrant children

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed off on a plan to extend California's health care program for the poor to cover immigrant children from low-income families, regardless of their legal status.

The Democratic governor announced Friday that he signed SB4 by Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens.

Brown and legislative leaders earlier this year approved state funding to cover all children under 19 in Medi-Cal, the state's health care program for the poor. The initial cost is estimated at $40 million.

Lara was forced to scale back his proposal seeking a federal waiver that would have allowed immigrants to purchase unsubsidized coverage through Covered California, regardless of their legal status.

The law takes effect in May.  — AP

Medical marijuana licensing and operating rules

The trio of bills establishes the first statewide licensing and operating rules for pot growers, manufacturers of cannabis-infused products and retail weed stores and comes as multiple groups try to qualify voter initiatives for next year that would allow adults to use marijuana recreationally.

"Today, the Wild West era of medical cannabis came to an end, and a new era of responsible regulation has begun," said United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council Executive Director Jim Araby, whose union lobbied for employment standards in the bills. "Voters are poised to decide on legalizing recreational cannabis in 2016, so it was vitally important that California establish a regulatory framework first." — AP

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California electronic privacy act

SB178 requires police to get a court order before they can search messages, photos and other digital data stored on your phone or company servers.

The law, dubbed, the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act, was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday. It's only the third of its kind in the U.S.

While some states do guarantee some of its protections, only Maine and Utah previously had comprehensive laws on the books, says Hanni Fakhoury, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The digital rights group, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, news organizations and tech companies, worked for the bill's passage, arguing that existing laws desperately needed an update. — AP

Santa Barbara oil spill response

Brown signed three bills Thursday aimed at preventing oil spills, minimizing the damage they cause and speeding cleanups in the wake of a pipeline rupture that poured more than 100,000 gallons of crude on the Santa Barbara coast in May.

Brown said in a signing statement:

"The devastating effects from the oil spill this year in Santa Barbara County impacted birds, mammals and other marine life, and caused the closure of beaches and fishing resulting in economic losses. Our coastline and surrounding environments contribute to the great and unique landscape of California. These bills improve planning for and prevention of oil spills and our response when spills occur."

The bills introduced by Santa Barbara County Democrats include requirements that the state fire marshal inspect pipelines annually and that pipeline operators install the best spill-control technology, such as automatic shut-off valves.

Those bills address criticisms that arose after a badly corroded section of the Plains All American Pipeline ruptured underground and spilled oil onto Refugio State Beach and into the Pacific Ocean.

The pipeline, once regulated by the state marshal and Santa Barbara County, was under federal jurisdiction because it's part of a larger interstate network of pipes. — AP and KPCC staff

Microbead ban

AB 888 requires California to phase out the use of microscopic exfoliating beads in personal care products sold in the state starting in 2020 to protect fish and wildlife. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the legislation Thursday. 

The tiny plastic beads found in soap, toothpaste and body washes are so small that they are showing up in the bodies of fish and other wildlife after passing through water filtration systems without disintegrating.

Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, said his bill, AB 888, seeks to drastically restrict all use of the non-biodegradable beads, which can contain various toxins.

"AB888 was carefully crafted to avoid any loopholes that would allow for use of potentially harmful substitutes," Bloom said in a statement Thursday. "This legislation ensures that personal care products will be formulated with environmentally-safe alternatives to protect our waterways and oceans."

A number of companies are replacing microbeads with natural substances such as ground-up fruit pits. — Juliet Williams/AP

Transgender rights

SB 703 will expand legal protections for transgender workers by barring state agencies from doing business with companies that discriminate in the benefits they offer.

The bill prevents state agencies from signing contracts with companies that do not offer the same health benefits to transgender workers they provide other workers. It applies to contracts for goods or services worth more than $100,000.

SB 703 by Sen. Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat, expands existing California law that requires. 

Gov. Jerry Brown approved the legislation Wednesday. — AP

Cheerleading becomes a sport

AB 949 makes competitive cheerleading an official high school sport in California, requiring the California Interscholastic Federation to oversee competitive cheerleading as it does other high school sports. Brown signed the bill on Wednesday.

Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego says at least eight other states treat competitive cheerleading as a sport. She says the formal recognition will give the sport the respect and safety standards that athletes deserve.

Her bill, AB 949, requires the change by the 2017-18 school year.

Gonzalez is a former high school and college cheerleader.

The Democratic governor previously signed a bill by Gonzalez requiring minimum wage pay and overtime for cheerleaders of professional sports teams. — AP

Toll bridges for bikes and pedestrians

AB 40 allows pedestrians and bicyclists to continue crossing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge for free. It prohibits transportation agencies from charging sidewalk tolls on five state-owned bridges in the San Francisco Bay Area. The governor signed the bill Wednesday.

Ting introduced the measure to block Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District from imposing sidewalk fees to help close a budget deficit.

Four bridges in the U.S. charge pedestrians 50-cents to cross. All are at border crossings with Mexico and Canada.

Ting says the Golden Gate Bridge would have been the first solely domestic span with a sidewalk toll. — AP

'Beer bikes'

In a hat tip to beer drinkers everywhere, Brown signed into law a bill allowing so-called "beer bikes" to operate on city streets. The pedal-powered mobile pubs can will now let tourists and locals statewide travel together from one watering hole to the next, though the bill leaves it to local governments to decide whether they can drink on board. — KPCC staff

Gender wage gap

SB 358 grants female workers in California new tools to challenge gender-based wage gaps. Supporters say it offers the strongest equal-pay protection in the nation.

Brown signed the measure Tuesday while surrounded by women and girls at an event at Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park in Richmond, northeast of San Francisco.

"The stratification and the pay disparities in California and in America, probably in the world, are something that really eats away at our whole society," Brown said. He called the legislation a "milestone."

The bill by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat, expands California's existing equal pay law and goes further than federal law by placing the burden on the employer to prove a man's higher pay is based on factors other than gender.

It also protects workers from discrimination and retaliation if they ask questions about how much other people earn, though it doesn't require that employers provide that information. Workers also will gain the right to sue if they are paid less than someone with a different job title who does "substantially similar" work.

The Fair Pay Act stipulates employers can justify higher wages for men only if the pay is based on seniority, a merit system, quantity or quality of production or any other "bona fide factor other than sex." It cleared the Legislature with bipartisan support and backing from the state Chamber of Commerce. — Juliet Williams/AP

Smart TV privacy concerns

AB 1116 addresses privacy concerns as new smart TVs get equipped with voice recognition features.

The bill blocks a television's recording device unless consumers are prominently informed during initial setup that the feature could record conversations. It also forbids TV manufacturers and related third parties from using or selling stored conversations for advertising purposes.

Brown announced Tuesday that he signed the bill 

The bill was spearheaded by state Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Democrat from Glendale. He worried that conversations could be captured and transmitted.

Privacy experts say the changes, while important, may not go far enough to protect consumers.

They say the information collected could still be used to make psychological or cultural assessments of people for insurance or customer relations companies. — AP

Network cyber-threats

AB 670 requires state agencies to evaluate their networks for cyber-threats. The bill comes after the state auditor reported that many agencies are vulnerable to a major security breach of sensitive data.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced signing the bill on Tuesday.

The legislation by Democratic Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks requires the state to order at least 35 evaluations a year. It comes after several high-profile breaches and a report that found many agencies are not complying with the state's information technology standards.

The assessments will target agencies based on the relative amount of personal data they maintain.

Irwin said agencies have the funding for security assessments in their budgets but have not made them a priority. — AP

Psychiatric drugs and foster children

SB 238 addresses the overuse of psychiatric drugs on California foster children.

Brown announced Tuesday that he signed a series of bills responding to concerns that group homes rely too heavily on medications to control the behavior of foster kids.

The governor signed Los Angeles Democrat Holly Mitchell's bill Tuesday. It will would alert social workers when drugs are overprescribed and warn of dangerous drug interactions.

The County Welfare Directors Association of California applauded the measure for giving child welfare workers better tools and training.

Brown also signed SB 319 and SB 484 by Sen. Jim Beall, a San Jose Democrat.

The first grants public health nurses the ability to monitor medication for foster children. The second increases group home reporting requirements to prevent overuse of psychotropic drugs. — AP

Paparazzi drones

AB 856 is intended to prevent paparazzi from flying drones over private property.

Brown announced Tuesday that he signed AB 856, which changes the definition of a physical invasion of privacy to include the airspace above someone's land in order to capture pictures or recordings.

Assemblyman Ian Calderon, a Democrat from Whittier, says trespassing law needed to be clarified because paparazzi use drones to capture celebrities in their private activities.

The governor's support comes after he rejected other limits on drone use. He vetoed a similar proposal last month that would have made flying a drone above someone's property without permission a trespassing violation.

Over the weekend, he rejected several bills that would have banned drones over wildfires, schools, prisons and jails. — AP

Vetoes

 

Campus sex assault reporting

Gov. Jerry Brown is rejecting a proposal from state lawmakers to require California colleges to set tougher penalties and add reporting on college students disciplined for sexual assault.

AB967 would have required students found responsible for rape and forcible sex acts to be suspended for at least two years.

It called for annual reporting on sexual assault, dating violence and stalking complaints, investigations, and the outcome of those investigations.

The governor says in a veto Sunday that the bill by Chino Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva could deprive professionals from using their best judgment in making disciplinary decisions.

Brown says legislation he signed requiring California colleges to adopt a so-called affirmative consent standard for investigating assault allegations and a law expanding investigations are addressing campus assault. - AP

Women's wages

After signing a law last week creating some of the strongest equal pay rules in the nation, Gov. Jerry Brown is rejecting a bill that would have barred employers from using previous salary information to justify paying women less than their male co-workers.

The Democratic governor announced Sunday that he vetoed AB1017 by Democratic Assemblywoman Nora Campos of San Jose.

Campos said her bill aimed to end the cycle of women's wages lagging behind men's pay, but Brown says in a veto message that there's little evidence it would ensure more equitable wages.

He says lawmakers should wait to see how the new equal pay law affects the gender wage gap before making changes. - AP

Family leave, mandatory arbitration

Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a pair of bills opposed by the largest business advocacy group in California.

Senate Bill 406, authored by Santa Barbara Democrat Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, would have expanded the number of people entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work to include grandparents, siblings, grandchildren and parent-in-laws. Current state law allows employees to take leave only to care for parents, children, a spouse or domestic partner.

Brown says in a veto letter that an expansion would have created a conflict between state and federal law, requiring employers in some cases to provide employees up to 24 weeks of family leave in a 12-month period. Federal law grants 12 weeks to workers caring for parents, spouse or children.

He also vetoed an assembly bill banning mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of employment. AB 465 was authored by West Covina Democrat Roger Hernandez.

The Chamber of Commerce opposed both bills. - AP

'Right to try' bill for terminally ill patients

Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have granted terminally ill patients speedier access to potentially life-saving yet experimental drugs.

The so-called "right to try" legislation would have allowed patients to petition drug companies for access to experimental treatments that have not yet been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration but have already cleared the first phase of testing.

In a veto letter, Brown said that terminally ill patients should be able to try to access experimental medication, and that the FDA already has such a program in place. He said the state should give the federal process a chance.

Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, sponsored AB 159. Supporters say the most critically ill do not qualify for clinical trials and the process to apply for special FDA permission takes so long that many die before their case is reviewed.

Twenty-four other states have right to try laws.

Earlier this week, the governor signed legislation granting terminally ill patients the right to end their lives with the help of a physician. - AP

For-profit companies operating charter schools

Gov. Jerry Brown is rejecting legislation that would have blocked for-profit companies from operating charter schools in California.

Brown says in a veto message Saturday that he doesn't believe lawmakers have made the case to stop for-profit companies from operating charter schools in the state.

He declined to sign AB 787 by Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernández of West Covina. He says the bill also contains ambiguous language that could restrict nonprofit charter schools from even using for-profit vendors.

Brown helped launch two Oakland charter schools, but teachers unions and many of his fellow Democrats oppose them because most employees are not unionized. - AP

Tax credit bills 

AB 35 by Assemblymember David S. Chiu, D-San Francisco
AB 88 by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles
AB 99 by Assemblymember Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno 
AB 428 by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, D-Sherman Oaks
AB 437 by Assemblymember Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego
AB 515 by Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton
AB 931 by Assemblymember Jacqui V. Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks
SB 251 by Senator Richard D. Roth, D-Riverside
SB 377 by Senator Jim Beall, D-San Jose

Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed nine bills sponsored by fellow Democrats that would have created new tax credits or expanded existing tax credits.

Brown announced the vetoes Saturday, saying the state's budget is still facing financial uncertainties. Brown said the tax credits would make balancing the state's budget even more difficult.

Among the bills Brown vetoed was a measure by Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco that would have increased funding for low-income housing tax credits and a measure by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian that would have provided credits for seismic retrofitting.

Still another bill Brown vetoed would have expanded a food donation credit. - AP

Preschool expansion to low-income 4-year-olds

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a measure Friday that would have expanded preschool to all the state’s low-income four year-olds. Preschool advocates had hoped that AB 47 would become law.

Called the Preschool for All Act, the measure had a name that was a slight misnomer as it would have only provided preschool for children in families who have a low enough income to qualify for subsidized or free preschool.

Currently, there are estimated to be 32,000 low-income children who are not attending preschool because there are not enough seats.

The preschool bill had a pretty easy path through the legislature and ithad many supporters outside of the state halls of power, including the editorial board of the Sacramento Bee, school districts, religious groups, and the L.A. Chamber of Commerce.  

But opponents cited the cost -- about $300 million a year -- in opposing its passage.

— Deepa Fernandes

Limiting surplus military equipment

AB 36 would have set standards for when local governments can accept surplus military equipment like armored vehicles, heavy weapons and aircraft. Gov. Jerry Brown announced Wednesday he'd vetoed the bill. 

It was one of several bills lawmakers approved this year in response to concerns about police activities. It would have required local governments to hold a public hearing before acquiring the equipment.

Brown said in a veto message Wednesday that transparency is important but it must be tempered by security concerns. He worries about jeopardizing safety by revealing equipment shortages of local law enforcement agencies in public meetings.

The governor also says the measure is unnecessary because a May executive order by President Barack Obama requires local governments to approve equipment donations. — AP

Gender parity in worker's compensation

On the same day he signed legislation to give California women the strongest equal-pay protection in the nation, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed AB 305, a bill addressing gender parity in workers' compensation cases.

Brown's office announced Tuesday that he vetoed AB 305, which aimed to ensure medical problems that primarily affect women were not considered pre-existing conditions when permanent disability compensation is calculated.

Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego said women often receive less pay than men for the same work injuries because California law allows discounted rates for conditions including pregnancy, breast cancer, menopause and osteoporosis.

The Democratic governor says the bill is based on a misunderstanding of the rules. He says the workers' compensation system should be free of gender bias, but the proposed legislation sets up an unscientific standard. — AP