As the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment washed across the country last year, it hit especially hard in the California Capitol.
Three lawmakers resigned amid serious allegations of sexual misconduct. The Legislature spent months crafting a new procedure for handling complaints from its employees. And by the end of the legislative session, dozens of bills had been passed to prevent future harassment or help victims seek justice in workplaces across the state.
Then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed many. But in Brown’s typical fashion — what he called paddling left and paddling right — he vetoed other measures, arguing they were unnecessary, hasty or in conflict with federal law.
Now, there’s a new governor in town, and with him, high hopes that Gov. Gavin Newsom will reward the persistence of those whose harassment bills were rejected by Brown.
Among the roughly 700 bills on Newsom’s desk are several inspired by the #MeToo movement, including many repeats of bills Brown vetoed last year. Others are new ideas or rehashes of measures that stalled last year before reaching the governor’s desk — such as a bill prohibiting settlements that say an employer will never again hire an aggrieved worker.Read More
California lawmakers ended the Legislative session without doing much on vaping. Now Gov. Gavin Newsom is stepping in.
This morning, the governor signed an executive order which he said would be “pushing the envelope” to regulate the burgeoning e-cigarette industry despite a lack of new legal authority from the state Assembly and Senate.
“In the absence of any legislative effort that’s successful, we want to see how far we can go,” Newsom said at a press conference.
The order directs state regulators to crack down on the sale of black market vaping products, develop new anti-smoking public awareness campaigns and target under-age smokers, potentially with new warning ads.
The governor’s order also instructs the state’s Department of Tax and Fee Administration to research different ways to tax e-cigarette products. Currently, vaping pods are taxed based on their wholesale cost, rather than the amount of nicotine they contain. Because a vaping pod often contains much more nicotine than a pack of cigarettes, public health advocates say that provides an implicit subsidy to the e-cigarette industry.Read More
Even by the last-minute, helter-skelter standards of the end of California’s legislative session, the past 24 hours were remarkable. It will go down in Capitol lore having culminated in the Senate's emergency relocation, a woman's arrest, and a senator’s morning-after visit to the doctor in accordance with "safety protocols for blood exposure."
At around 5:15 p.m. Friday, an anti-vaccine protester chucked what appeared to be a small cup of blood onto the Senate floor, throwing an unexpected wrench—and what looked like a rubber menstrual cup—into the legislative process.
It was the last day for the state’s senators and members of the Assembly to pass laws, sending them to the governor. With many of the most controversial bills out of the way, many had expected it to be a quiet evening.
More than a few senators were splattered with the as-yet-unidentified red liquid, rumored to be menstrual fluid. Included among them was Sacramento Democratic Sen. Richard Pan, the presumed target of the attack — a pediatrician and author of a new state law to crack down on illegitimate vaccine exemptions.Read More
Update, Sept. 13, 2019: Late Friday, not long before the Legislature was to adjourn, an author of the bill that is explained in this article withdrew the measure from consideration.
With a bit of 11th-hour legislative magic, state lawmakers have taken a bill related to volunteer firefighter reimbursements and — poof! — transformed it into what opponents are calling a political gift to Kern Oil & Refining Co.
In its rewritten form, the bill, authored by Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas of Bakersfield, would exempt certain small refiners from a state requirement to monitor potentially harmful emissions near their facilities.
Salas told a Senate’s environmental committee Wednesday that the measure is simply intended to level the playing field between big and small facilities and to protect jobs in an economically needy part of the state.
The reworked bill “is meant to address the unintended consequences of previous legislation.” That measure, he said in a subsequent email to CalMatters, “put an unequal burden on small refineries like Kern Oil in Bakersfield by requiring them to institute the same new emissions testing as large-scale, multinational refineries in urban centers.”Read More
Legislation that originally sought to permanently ban California law enforcement agencies from using facial recognition technology in police body cameras has been drastically watered down as it heads for its final votes in the state Capitol.
Assemblyman Phil Ting revised the bill last month to limit the ban to just seven years. He amended it again Friday to last for three years.
“We talked to a number of senators and they had a concern with the length of time, so we decided to shorten the length of time,” said Ting, a San Francisco Democrat who introduced the bill saying the technology amounted to an invasion of privacy that could subject innocent people to police surveillance.
Police have been testing the technology in Oregon, where it’s allowed them to compare suspects’ faces to hundreds of thousands of mugshots, and, in some cases, find their Facebook page, visit their home or make an arrest, the Washington Post reported earlier this year. California law enforcement agencies do not currently use the technology, but Ting said his bill is necessary to get ahead of its introduction as facial recognition software becomes more common at airports, schools and even summer camps.
“We’re doing the legislation to be proactive, because we know the software is not accurate and should not be deployed for law enforcement purposes,” Ting said. “We wanted to make sure we didn't end up in a situation where we were falsely accusing or falsely arresting people.”Read More
California will soon have a tougher new legal standard for the use of deadly force by police, under legislation Gov. Gavin Newsom signed today that was inspired by last year's fatal shooting of a young, unarmed man in Sacramento.
Newsom signed the legislation amid unusual fanfare, convening numerous legislators, family members of people who have died in police shootings and advocates including civil-rights leader Dolores Huerta in a courtyard at the Secretary of State's building used in the past for inaugurations and other formal events.
The governor contends that with Assembly Bill 392 in place, police will turn increasingly to de-escalation techniques including verbal persuasion, weapons other than guns and other crisis-intervention methods.
“It is remarkable to get to this moment on a bill that is this controversial. But it means nothing unless we make this moment meaningful,” Newsom said after signing the legislation.
He made a point of praising law enforcement, saying the “overwhelming majority are extraordinary and honorable people.” He is planning to attend the funeral Tuesday of California Highway Patrol Officer Andre Moye Jr., who was killed by an ex-felon last week.Read More
The state’s top education officials are hitting the pause button on a plan for teaching ethnic studies to California high schoolers after the draft faced a flood of criticism.
The draft has faced backlash and been called biased, too “politically correct,” and anti-Semitic. It includes jargon such as “cisheteropatriarchy” and “hxrstory,” and refers to capitalism as a form of power and oppression alongside white supremacy and racism. The draft’s glossary includes xenophobia and islamophobia, but not anti-Semitism.
At a press conference today, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said the ethnic studies model curriculum draft needs work and the Education Department will extend the curriculum’s deadline if necessary to get the draft right. Members of the State Board of Education earlier this week wrote the current draft “falls short and needs to be substantially redesigned.” The draft was created by an advisory committee comprised of K-12 teachers and college professors who met a total of six times.
Standing by Thurmond’s side were members of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, who skewered the draft in a letter to the department last month. Thurmond said “there was no intentional omission of the experiences of Jewish Americans,” but added that the draft should be more inclusive, better balanced and better reflect the state’s diversity.
He said the department will be making many recommendations to the Instructional Quality Commission, which will make final decisions on the curriculum. The commission includes state Senator Ben Allen, a Santa Monica Democrat and the chair of the Jewish caucus, who thanked Thurmond and the department for calling for changes to the curriculum.Read More
California recently approved a longer paid family leave, allowing workers whose blessed events fall on the right side of the new law to take up to eight weeks off with partial pay to bond with a new baby. How’s that going to work? We asked the experts and read the fine print to help you figure it out now, before you’re too sleep deprived to think straight.
The ovulation calendar, that part’s on you.
I’m about to have or adopt a baby. Do I get the longer paid leave?
Probably not. The new 8-week plan kicks in on July 1, 2020. If you file a claim to take paid family leave before that date, you will likely be put on the current plan that allows for six weeks of paid leave, according to Loree Levy, deputy director of the Employment Development Department. She said the rules are still being finalized, but that’s how she expects it will work.
Remember: Paid family leave is on top of the six weeks of disability pay that women can get after childbirth.Read More
In 2016, when Susan Rubio was on the Baldwin Park City Council, she famously accused her then-husband, Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, of domestic violence. He had been beating her, she told a Los Angeles County court, since late 2013, just months into their marriage, but she had covered it up — telling hospital staff she had hurt herself working out, for instance — because both were elected officials and because she feared he’d retaliate.
Three years later, Rubio and Hernandez are divorced, he no longer holds office and she’s Sen. Susan Rubio, a freshman Democrat with a bill — co-sponsored in the Assembly by no less than her sister — to lengthen the statute of limitations on domestic abuse. Senate Bill 273 would provide officer training for domestic violence cases and give authorities eight years instead of three to prosecute abuses for which new evidence emerges.
Her aim, she says, is “to make sure that women have more time to deal with their personal struggles and really have the courage to come forward and bring their abusers to justice.”
“When my story broke, so many women decided that they wanted to tell their stories to me, hundreds of them,” Rubio said. “One of the things that I found was common in all of the stories that were told to me is that that there is a deep-rooted trauma and paralyzing fear that comes from their experience — and some of them take years to overcome.”
The extended statute of limitations would apply to cases in which the perpetrator confesses or there are videos, photos, or written or electronic communication that emerge and can be used as sufficient evidence.Read More
As governor, Jerry Brown vetoed a 2017 measure to keep presidential candidates off the California primary ballot unless they release their tax returns. With a stern veto message, he said the Trump-trolling bill would create a political “slippery slope.”
“Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?” Brown, a Democrat, wrote.Fellow Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom came to a different conclusion Tuesday, signing a new version of the bill that will make California the first state in the nation to adopt the requirement, and setting the stage for another legal battle with the Trump administration which is almost certain to argue that the law is unconstitutional. As a candidate, Donald Trump has defied custom by never releasing his tax returns.
“These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence,” Newsom said in a signing statement. “The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interest.”
The measure is more overtly political than most of the bills California’s Democratic-controlled Legislature passes — and dovetails well with Newsom’s effort to paint himself as America’s anti-Trump. In that regard, it may not offer a clear indication of how Newsom will judge wonkier bills that don’t amount to political catnip for his progressive base.
Still, his signature on Senate Bill 27 is significant in part because it’s the first of many measures the new governor will likely face this year that give him the opportunity to unwind decisions by Brown.Read More