For two decades Larry Becker's shop, Dicker and Dicker of Beverly Hills, has specialized in fashions with fur. Now, as California edges closer than ever to banning the sale of new fur, he fears an advancing state bill would be disastrous to his livelihood.
“It would mean the end of the business,” he said. “It would be devastating.”
Assembly Bill 44 would ban the sale and manufacture of new fur products in the state. Beginning in 2022, first-time violators would pay $500—a penalty that could double for further offenses. The exemptions: fur used for religious purposes and Native American cultural practices, and used fur.
“We’re not criminalizing you having grandma’s fur or you even selling grandma’s fur,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Laura Friedman of Glendale, the bill’s author.
Instead she said the aim is to model the values of Californians, who last year passed a ballot measure to ensure that egg-laying hens and certain other farm animals have larger cages.Read More
Heather Williams knew as a kid that she wanted to be a piano teacher. She earned her music degree with a piano emphasis from Brigham Young University and spent decades honing her craft.
Today she not only runs her own academy near Sacramento, offering private lessons with a special certification in the Suzuki Method of instruction, but also teaches in public schools, though she lacks a state teaching credential.
How? Via a loophole that lets charter schools skip some of the credentialing required of teachers in traditional public school classrooms. The exception has allowed Williams to offer music instruction to homeschool charter students and to group classes in brick-and-mortar charters such as the Sacramento-based California Montessori Project network.
Proponents say it encourages enrichment in that privately-run sector of the public school system. In recent months, however—like many state rules that apply to charters—it has drawn legislative attention. And influential lawmakers say it could be on its way out.
Whether all teachers should need a state credential to teach has long been debated. In California, the answer has been “yes” for teachers in traditional public schools.Read More
Aiming to reduce police shootings in a state that has more than 100 of them each year, the California legislature passed a bill Monday setting a tougher standard for police to use deadly force, allowing officers to fire their guns only “when necessary in defense of human life.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom said he intends to sign Assembly Bill 392, likely putting an end to more than a year of emotional debate in the Capitol that began after Sacramento police killed an unarmed black man in his grandparents’ backyard. The heated testimony revealed the anguish of Californians whose relatives have been killed by police, as well as the energy of a national civil rights movement drawing attention to the disproportionate impact of police shootings in communities of color.
“Race matters, and to suggest otherwise is a blatant denial of the obvious,” said Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat who presented the bill on the Senate floor.
“It’s obvious to so many that the current ‘reasonable standard’ of using force… does not protect people’s fundamental human rights.”
Civil libertarians celebrated the bill’s sweeping passage in the Senate but expressed concerns that the measure might be weakened by another bill still moving through the Legislature with the support of police.Read More
Love was in the air early this year when the newly-inaugurated Gov. Gavin Newsom first proposed his first-ever state budget. Pacing the stage of a packed auditorium, he unveiled his ambitious, $209 billion plan with the studiousness of a policy wonk and the charm of an eager politician. He praised lawmakers by name, tossing verbal valentines at fellow Democrats whose majority party support he needed to approve the budget.
“I love this Legislature,” the governor declared.
As budget negotiations heated up over the spring, however, lawmakers weren’t as easily wooed as it may have seemed at the outset.
They pushed back against some of Newsom’s key proposals—to tie transportation funding for cities to their pace of housing development; add a new tax on water to cover the cost of toxic clean-up; tailor an existing health care council to focus only on developing a single-payer system; align California tax law with changes in federal tax law to pay for larger refunds for low-income residents. Outside the budget, lawmakers killed housing bills that would have helped build more homes and protect tenants from eviction or steep rent increases—complicating more Newsom campaign promises.
In the negotiations since, the Legislature and the governor have found enough common ground to advance most of Newsom’s budget priorities, using a different source of funding for the water clean-up, for example, conforming to some of the federal tax increases and adopting Newsom’s buzzwords for the health care council without changing its original mission. And the budget does include more than $2 billion to address the state’s housing crisis. Read More
A majority of California voters want state lawmakers to aggressively address an ever-worsening housing crisis, even if that means strong-arming uncooperative local governments, according to a new poll.
But given the Legislature’s recent track record, they’re probably in for a disappointment.
A new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 57% of likely voters (and 62% of all adults) favor a policy that would force local governments to allow denser development “near mass transit and job centers.” That includes half of all the homeowners surveyed, a powerful constituency in the Capitol who are often presumed to oppose zoning reform.
But the odds of the Legislature meeting that demand this year are virtually non-existent. A bill by to do so by San Francisco’s Sen. Scott Weiner was quietly shelved in the Assembly appropriations committee last month.
The poll found similar-sized majorities of Californians want the state to get even tougher: They favor withholding from cities and counties new state transportation dollars raised from a gas tax increase, unless those local governments approve a certain amount of new housing. Read More
For an hour and a half this morning, California lawmakers lined up to speak for or against (but mostly for) one of the most high-profile bills of the year. One member of the Assembly, a former state cop, choked back tears as he wrestled with the implications of his vote.
But when the rolls opened on AB392, which would make it harder for police to legally justify killing a civilian, the tally wasn’t even close. The Assembly passed the bill, 67 to 0, with 13 members abstaining.
Today’s vote pushes California one step closer to enacting use-of-force standards that would be among the strictest in the country. If AB392 is signed into law, police would only be able to use lethal force if “necessary” to defend human life.
The current standard, established by the U.S. Supreme Court, allows the lethal use of force if the split-second decision to pull the trigger is “reasonable.”
Introduced by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber from San Diego, the bill is a product of a long political tug-o’-war. On one side are criminal justice advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which has argued that current law allows police officers to justify all but the most flagrant misconduct. On the other are law enforcement groups, which have said that a stricter use-of-force standard would allow prosecutors to second-guess difficult policing decisions in often dangerous situations. Read More
After months of negotiations to craft a bill meant to reduce police shootings in California, legislative leaders have landed on a version that appears likely to pass, with law enforcement groups removing their opposition, civil liberties advocates declaring victory and Gov. Gavin Newsom lauding a policy that “will help restore community trust in our criminal justice system.”
Assembly Bill 392 would give California a new and tougher legal standard to justify the use of deadly force by police. It was inspired by the death last year of Stephon Clark, an unarmed man Sacramento police killed after mistaking the cell phone he was holding for a gun.
With outrage over police shootings spreading amid the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, Clark’s case attracted national attention and contributed to a groundswell of political momentum in the California Capitol. Though the Legislature’s first attempt to pass a new use of force standard stalled last year, lawmakers vowed to keep working at it and appear to have made good on the promise.
The new version of the bill says police may only use deadly force when “necessary in defense of human life”—a steeper standard than prosecutors apply now, which says police can shoot when doing so is “reasonable.” Supporters say the policy will save lives by putting new limits on police.
“Assuming this bill passes, then California will have one of the strongest use of force laws in the nation,” said Lizzie Buchen, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, a key backer of the bill. Read More
Updated May 30, 2019: The charter debate continued as two of the four main charter regulation bills—one calling for a moratorium on new charters, the other for a cap—stalled. Senate Bill 756 and Assembly Bill 1506 failed to meet deadlines for passage in their house of origin; click here for details. The other two charter bills, regulating far-flung charters and giving school districts more control over charter authorizations, are still alive and move to the Senate now.
Legislation that would give local school districts more control over charter-school authorizations narrowly passed the California State Assembly Wednesday in a dramatic vote that served as an initial litmus test for a package of consequential, union-backed charter regulation bills.
For nearly an hour, Assembly Bill 1505 stood just shy of a handful of the 41 votes required to advance to the Senate, in part because of concerns the bill went too far in limiting the ability of charter schools to appeal authorization denials from local school districts to county and state education boards.
Only one Republican, Jordan Cunningham, ended up voting yes on the measure. Many moderate Democrats initially were reluctant to support it, but support in the final tally included a mix of mods and liberal Democrats. Seventeen members chose not to vote.
When the bill finally passed 44-19-17, it was with an assurance from Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, the bill’s author, that the bill would be amended to include a “fair” appeal process. Read More
Earlier this year, Democrats in the state Capitol introduced several measures intended to limit Californians’ consumption of soda, arguing that rotting teeth and rising diabetes presented a public health crisis demanding action akin to regulations on cigarettes. They proposed taxing soda, banning Big Gulps, prohibiting in-store discounts on soft drinks, banishing them from the front of convenience stores, and slapping safety warning labels on all sugary beverages from Coca-Cola and sports drinks to sweet tea and chocolate milk.
The soda industry responded by drastically ramping up its lobbying in the statehouse, more than tripling the amount it spent in the first three months of this year, compared with the same period last year.
Now, as the Legislature hits the session’s halfway point, three of the anti-soda measures have fizzled. The two that remain in play—one prohibiting discount pricing on soda and another requiring warning labels—face difficult floor votes by the end of the month, as some lawmakers are likely to argue that the measures amount to “nanny government.” (Updated May 23: The Senate approved, barely, the bill to require soda warning labels, which now goes to the Assembly. Further updated May 30: The discount pricing prohibition failed to be taken up for a floor vote in time for a legislative deadline, making it four out of five anti-soda bills on the casualty list.)
Soda’s success so far in thwarting an agenda backed by doctors, dentists and public health advocates shows that despite Democrats’ historically large majority, some corporate interests remain influential in a Capitol dominated by varying shades of blue. The soda industry has gained clout by spending millions on lobbying and campaign donations, hiring well-connected former Capitol aides and forming alliances with labor unions that lend additional political muscle.
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