Capital Games

news2 lawsAn A-to-Z guide to what our legislators have been up to in Sacramento 

Abalone and other shellfish harvesting is a key California industry, and Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro, D-Santa Rosa, has introduced a joint resolution that aims to enhance state efforts at building a commercial aquaculture infrastructure. Chesbro offers support for a clean, healthy marine environment that protects shellfish beds and provides “access to additional acreage for shellfish farming and restoration.” It also pushes for greater cooperation between industry, environmental, and federal and state officials to develop a permitting process that’s “efficient and economical for both shellfish restoration and commercial farming.” (AJR-43)

Bicycle taxes sound like yet another way for Big Government to squeeze pennies from people just trying to make the earth a greener space by pedaling to the corner deli instead of firing up the Escalade. But there’s a fine public-policy rationale behind Concord Democratic senator Mark DeSaulnier’s proposal, which would open the door to localities to slap a point-of-sale tax on adult bicycle sales and use the money to fund and maintain bike trails. (SB 1183)

Campaign finance reform is one of those pro-democracy conceits that the U.S. Supreme Court has thrown under the bus, favoring a money-is-speech approach to financing elections that gives the advantage to deep pockets over empty ones. Citizens United gave undue power to corporations’ ability to influence elections, and the recent McCutcheon ruling dispensed with limits on how much cash Daddy Warbucks or his underworld Corporate Campaign Cabal can throw at a candidate. Growing public outrage over these supremely undemocratic moves is reflected in Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski’s House Resolution 37, which puts fellow lawmakers on the spot by asking that they support his resolution, which proposes the notion that democracy is by, for and of the People. Radical thought, that. (HR 37)

Dogs may soon get a place at the table—or at least on a restaurant patio. The “Fido Alfresco bill” would undo a state ban on bringing your lovable beast into any part of a restaurant, including the outdoor dining area. That seemed a little extreme, no? Well, it’s a health code deal, and you know how those people are, always counting bugs and stuff in the kitchen. But dogs are wagging their tails in anticipation of the bill, offered by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, which leaves it to localities to make their own rules governing pets in al fresco settings. Cats are said to be livid at the slight, but fear not, frisky felines, we’ve got the American Cat Liberties Union on line one. Ferrets, we’re not so sure about you guys. (AB 1965)

Electric cars are coming just as fast as you can say “Get a horse, eco-freako,” but there are a whole host of associated logistical issues dogging the industry’s ascent. But let’s say you have an electric car and are moving into a new apartment. Congrats. Your new landlord is a Tea Party dude who thinks his patriotic duty is to waste as much gasoline as is humanly possible, and to resist befouling the world with those horridly quiet little machines of green. Well, too bad. A proposed bill from Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, would require your landlord to work with you, the tenant, to establish an on-site charging station in the apartment complex. The catch is tenants foot the bill. (AB 2565)

‘Fish’ is one of those words you used to see on the restaurant menu, and you’d say, “I’ll have the fish.” What kind of fish? Didn’t matter, you were ordering the fish. Restaurants are a lot more specific these days, but Big Grocery has a bad habit of mislabeling the monkfish—or did. Public awareness of the rampant mislabeling of fish, or “fish fraud,” courtesy of a 2013 report by the conservationist organization Oceana, has led to a push by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, to mandate accurate labeling of the fish at your local grocer. Guess what? There are all sorts of different fish out there, some tastier than others—and some more endangered or otherwise overfished than others. (SB 1138)

GMO labeling isn’t just something that’s being promoted on your bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap. California voters rejected a 2012 push, Proposition 37, to require the labeling of genetically modified Os; thanks for that, Big Ag. Now, Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, has taken up the call with another proposed GMO-labeling law. (SB1381)

Hound dogs aren’t just the subject of an Elvis Presley song; there’s a legal designation set up by state Fish and Wildlife people to differentiate between regular dogs and licensed hound dogs that are used to chase off bears or other beasts, especially when said beast wanders onto ranchland in search of a BLM employee or a quickie burger. Assemblymember Tim Donnelly, the Tea Party GOP candidate for governor, has offered a bill that repeals the state-mandated designation, so that any ol’ dog can go right ahead and chase a bear, so you can shoot it—in the name of sport. Sport hunting bears and bobcats with hounds was banned in 2012. Just let it go, Tim. (AB 2205)

Immigration is this amazing thing that helped stand up the United States of America as it strode into “its century” (the 20th) and needed a whole bunch of new people to man the ramparts of industrial capitalism. These days, people come to this country because they think: “Democracy, Philadelphia cheesesteak sandwiches, Real Housewives of New Jersey. What’s not to love?” Then they get here, and Louie Gohmert wants to beat the crap out of them. As we wrote about previously in these pages, Watsonville’s own Assemblymember Luis Alejo has offered a bill that would ask that Homeland Security lay off on the deportation of undocumented immigrants who file their taxes. Might not be an easy battle. (AB 2014)

Juvenile justice is a big issue these days, as states grapple with progressive notions like “restorative justice” in an economic climate that often leaves young people of limited means with few options beyond Burger King or a life of crime. The “schools-to-prison pipeline” continues to plague lawmakers’ best efforts to undo or undermine that awful dynamic, and Assemblymember Nora Campos, D-San Jose, has offered an amendment to the state penal code that requires corrections officials, when seeking grant monies for job-training programs and the like, to include at-risk youth as a target population. (AB 1920)

Klansmen of the Ku Klux variety won’t like it much, but 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that set the stage for desegregation in schools and universities. A resolution introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, reads, in part, “The United States Supreme Court’s decision became the legal impetus to school desegregation throughout the United States, and led to one of the most profound social movements in the history of the United States.” (ACR 140)

Low-income people get thirsty, too. And yet they are often faced with immense water bills that they can’t pay, or can only do so after a visit to the local payday lender. Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, has offered a bill that would set up a low-income water rate assistance program to provide subsidies and water bill discounts. (AB 1434)

Marijuana is very popular in California, sources say, but the state’s medical dispensary laws are a hodgepodge of bong-spillage messy whereby localities have created laws that don’t carry over into the next bud-unfriendly burg. Now Sen. Lou Correa, D-Anaheim, has introduced a bill offering a platform for statewide regulation. (SB 1262)

Naloxone: ever heard of it? There’s a reason why you haven’t—California pharmacies have been forbidden from dispensing the opioid-overdose medication to families of heroin addicts. While we appreciate that the preferred stupid-drug of choice in these parts is meth, heroin’s the sleeper in this unfortunate bid for bragging rights to which drug can ruin more lives. Naloxone is said to be an effective way to save you from an overdose croak-out. Cut to the scene where John Travolta plunges a needle into Uma Thurman’s heart in Pulp Fiction. The proposal by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, is a far-less-draconian life-saving measure. It’s a pill. (AB 1535)

Oil and gas fracking is bad juju all around. Anti-fracking forces are finding a home in Sacramento, where Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno, Democratic senators both (from Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively), have offered a bill that would put a moratorium on the practice of oil and gas extraction, which, if you’ve been living under the Monterey Shale, uses vast amounts of fresh water on the way to marginally reducing the price of energy. Then there’s that whole bit where fracking has been causing earthquakes in Ohio. (SB 1132)

‘Paid sick leave’ sounds like a basic right that any worker should enjoy. Not so. Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, has a bill that compels employers to offer at least three days of paid leave for workers. Gonzalez says on her website that “providing employees with paid sick leave could reduce healthcare costs by allowing workers and their family members time to visit a primary care physician to address an illness rather than rushing to an emergency room to seek care due to their fear of missing work.” (AB 1522)

Quick, what do you think is the most California-centric of all possible “awareness weeks” on a vast roster that includes the Armenian genocide and colorectal research? Oh, come now: it’s Compost Awareness Week, which was adopted by the state legislature on May 8. (HR39)

Reverse mortgages can provide a chunk of welcome cash to seniors or others, but the industry is growing faster than regulators can keep up, with vulture lenders circling in the post-subprime crash to push offers on seniors that sound great until you read fine print loaded with fees and other weird charges and stipulations. The state is getting tough by putting in protections such as those offered in Riverside Democratic Assemblymember Jose Medina’s bill, which would “prohibit a lender from taking a reverse mortgage application or assessing any fees” until a week or more after a prospective reverse-mortgage applicant has come forward. (AB 1700)

Sugary drinks are one of those “nanny state” issues that folks like Sarah Palin like to tout when they need a whip dog for their anti-government hysteria, itself grounded in a fantastical vision of apocalyptic Ayn Randian selfishness whereby “Don’t Tread on Me” extends to your right to a pair of wrecked kidneys. A bill offered by our own Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, would slap a label on sugary drinks warning of obesity and a host of rather unpleasant diseases. Maybe this one will fare better than his anti-food-truck-near-schools bill. (SB 1000)

“Trafficking in Humans” spans a range of human behaviors under the state penal code, some more odious than others. Among other new penalties related to child sex trafficking, an amendment to the California penal code stiffens penalties for solicitation of prostitution by tossing a would-be john in the county lockup for at least two days. Currently, there’s no mandatory-minimum sentence for solicitation, which can get you up to six months. Watch how you respond to those Craigslist ads, fellas. The bill is sponsored by a trio of senators, Ted Lieu, Jerry Hill and Holly Mitchell, Democrats all. (SB 1388)

“Unsafe handgun” is either an oxymoron or a redundancy, depending on your view of the Second Amendment. Assemblymember Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, is trying to add altered semiautomatic pistols and single-shot pistols to a state roster of “unsafe handguns” that can’t be sold or otherwise transferred between non-familial parties, closing what’s known as the “single-shot exemption” loophole. The gun lobby is naturally not happy
about this. (AB 1964)

Viva la Hermana Estado! California and the Mexican state of Jalisco enjoy a sister-state relationship that’s been re-upped in a senate resolution offered by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego. Are you wondering how many Californians get deported from Jalisco each year? (SCR 82)

Winos, take it easy. Last month happened to be Alcohol Awareness Month in California, thanks to a resolution offered by Livermore assemblymember Joan Buchanan, a Democrat. (SCR 94, ACR 83)

X-rated filmmaking is a big industry in L.A., but there’s a whole world of porn out there that includes a porn-mecca warehouse in San Francisco that’s open for tours. Setting aside feminist arguments against porn for the moment, can we agree that porn is here, it’s oftentimes queer, and it’s not going anywhere? As such, many are asking for porn to be disease-free, thanks, and we’d like for actors in the industry to have worker-safety protections. Porn actors in L.A. already have to slip a jimmy as part of that city’s anti-HIV (and other infectious diseases) campaign, and if you want to open a porn studio in Milpitas, the “porn condom” bill from Assemblymember Isadore Hall, D-Compton, would extend those protections statewide. It would also require regular testing for STDs. (AB 1576)

You really thought we’d get through this list without working in a mention of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling? Well, check yourself before you wreck yourself. If you happen to see that racist fool skulking around a game and feel compelled to give him a smack, Assemblymember Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, has offered a bill that slaps a fine from $8,000 to $16,000 on anyone convicted of fan-violence assault or battery. (AB 2457)

Zip lines and bars were singled out in a report by the state auditor’s office this year, when it was revealed that over $600,000 had been spent at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville on such frivolities, when meanwhile, the state has thousands of homeless vets on its streets. Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, has offered a bill that would ramp up accountability for expenditures needing approval from the California Department of Veterans Affairs, with an emphasis on regulating the outside-contracting services that led to the Yountville controversy. (AB 1580)

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