PolitiCal

On politics in the Golden State

Category: Assembly

California lawmaker wants to expand abortion access

A state lawmaker has revived a proposal to allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurse midwives to perform routine abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy as a way of expanding access to the procedure across California.

Only doctors may perform aspiration abortions, the most common method of terminating early pregnancies, under existing state law. But residents in more than half of California's counties do not have access to an abortion provider, said Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), author of the proposal.

"As a former healthcare administrator in women's clinics, I know from first-hand experience that safe and ready access to abortion procedures makes all the difference in the world in women's lives," she said in a statement. "Long wait times or having to travel long distances put basic services out of reach for many women."

The lawmaker said women increase both their costs and chances of medical complications the longer they wait.

Atkins introduced the measure, AB 154, on Tuesday, which marked the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe vs. Wade decision. State Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) withdrew a similar proposal last year for lack of support.

Opponents of Kehoe's bill had argued that the idea was reckless and would put women at risk.

Camille Giglio, a lobbyist for the anti-abortion group California Right to Life, expressed disgust last year that the state would cast itself as a leader on abortion access. "This is the first step down the road to making it appear like it's a simple, drive-by, 15-minute diversion," she said.

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Bill aims to boost abortion access

Abortion proposal withdrawn in California Senate

Support for legal abortion rises, 40 years after Roe vs. Wade

--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

twitter.com/mjmishak

 

Cal lawmakers propose 72-hour posting of bills before final votes

114866.ME.0831.lobby.25.REDA bipartisan group of California lawmakers concerned by the past rushing of legislation has proposed asking voters to require all bills to be in print and online for 72 hours before final passage.

Sen. Lois Wolk (D- Davis) and Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) have introduced identical bills with the aim of improving transparency in the Legislature.

Wolk noted that in the last two-year session, the Legislature considered nearly 5,000 bills. "While most of those proposals were publicly shared and well-vetted, some were not,” Wolk said. "Last-minute changes to bills can leave legislators unsure of what they are voting on, and prevent the public from weighing in on proposals."

Her Senate Constitutional Amendment 10 is jointly authored by Senate Republican leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) and Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), and coauthored by Olsen and Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord).

Assemblyman Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) previously introduced a bill requiring all budget bills to be posted on the Internet for three days before action. The constitutional amendments introduced by Wolk and Olsen would apply to all legislation, including budget bills.

“Californians are largely cynical about their state government and these bills will help increase better decision making and accountability,” said Olsen, who introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4.

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State's Judicial Council puts new courthouses on ice

Assembly speaker warns UC officials against fee hikes

State says crowding report for Valley State Prison was overstated

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: The state Capitol. Credit: Los Angeles TImes

 

 

California lawmakers build pressure against university fee hikes

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Pressure is building from both sides of the aisle in the Capitol for an end to tuition hikes at California universities.

Following the lead of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, a third Republican lawmaker has introduced legislation to hold the line on fee increases.

The measure by Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) would guarantee in-state freshman California State University students a fixed tuition rate for four years.

Olsen, a former CSU administrator, said some students have dropped out before getting their degrees because of fee hikes that were not accounted for in their personal budgets. Others have decided not to enter the university system at all because of the expenses.

 “Students and parents deserve a reliable and reasonable tuition rate so they can plan for the investment, and yet, the cost of tuition at CSU has risen 63% since 2008,” Olsen said in a statement. "This bill will help new college students acquire a quality education without the fear of being priced out of their degree program before they finish.”

Last week, two other Republican state lawmakers introduced legislation providing for a tuition freeze for up to seven years. Brown is scheduled to press his case for holding the line on fees when he appears next week at the CSU board meeting.

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Report: Parks agency hid millions

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7-year freeze on university fee hikes proposed by lawmakers

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Cal State University Fullerton students protesting fee hikes in 2011. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times.

 

Head of Burbank teachers union clashes with Assemblyman Mike Gatto

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A vote on delegates to the Democratic State Convention has led to some acrimony, with the head of the Burbank teachers union accusing Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silverlake) of using heavy-handed tactics to win.

A slate of candidates endorsed by Gatto to serve as delegates from his Assembly district to the convention won Monday after the leader of a competing slate of candidates was a no-show.

Lori Adams, president of the Burbank Teachers Assn. and one of the candidates on the competing slate, cried foul. "There was no need to use the intimidation and threats that you used toward the leader of our slate and endorsed school board candidate, Steve Ferguson, in order to eliminate our slate altogether," Adams wrote in a letter to Gatto. "I find this action to be contrary to our democratic principles."

Adams sent copies of her letter to a who’s who of teachers union leaders, including California Teachers Assn. President Dean Vogel and United Teachers of Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher. Ferguson, a candidate for the Burbank school board, said the threat was "implied but clear'' that Gatto would work to try to take away a key endorsement if Ferguson challenged his slate of delegates, so Ferguson skipped the meeting. "It was a headache I didn't want to deal with,'' Ferguson said.

Gatto denied threatening to get an endorsement pulled if Ferguson showed up. He said he talked to Ferguson only about collaborating. Adams' letter "struck me as an attempt to explain a poor showing," Gatto said. A political aide, Stacey Brenner, said she was in the car with Gatto during his call to Ferguson and only heard "a few questions regarding his previous promises of cooperation,'' no "threats.''

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Gov. Jerry Brown commits to major Medi-Cal expansion

Gov. Jerry Brown wants changes at state university systems

Democratic legislative leaders relieved by Gov. Brown's budget

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Assemblyman Mike Gatto, center. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

State lawmaker calls for 72-hour online posting of budget before vote

APphoto_California Budget
The budget proposed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown will be a different document when the Legislature approves it in June, and one lawmaker wants to make sure changes aren’t pushed through at the 11th hour without public scrutiny.

Assemblyman Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) has introduced a bill that would require the entire budget to be posted on the Internet for public review for three days before a vote by the Legislature.

"I have never been given more than two hours to read and accept a 1,000-page budget before I cast a vote,'' Morrell complained. "Am I supposed to trust and rely on Cliff note recommendations? More importantly, is that fair to the people of California?''

AB 70 is Morrell’s second attempt to make the budget process more transparent. A similar bill last year didn’t even get a committee vote. A report by a legislative analyst last year warned that the 72-hour rule "could reduce the ability of the Legislature to meet Constitutional deadlines for passing the budget on time."

The report noted that the budget must be passed by June 15, which is only 32 days after the governor puts out a revised budget proposal in May. "This bill would further shrink the 32 day window by setting aside three days for the bills to be in print," the analysis said.

It also said that the main budget bill itself has been in print for more than 72 hours in four of the last five years. The analysis doesn’t say that numerous trailer bills that are key parts of the budget and often are loaded with pork and controversial tax breaks are sometimes rewritten within hours of the final vote. Morrell’s bill would require those trailer bills also to be in print for three days.

"I expect those that have something to hide may not support this bill,'' Morrell said.

ALSO:

Gov. Jerry Brown commits to major Medi-Cal expansion

Gov. Jerry Brown wants changes at state university systems

Democratic legislative leaders relieved by Gov. Brown's budget

--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown last week pointing to a chart on his proposed budget. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

 

 

Assemblyman Roger Hernandez won't face domestic violence charges

AP120517141483Prosecutors have decided not to file domestic violence charges against state Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), saying there is insufficient evidence to back a former girlfriend’s allegations she was physically abused by the lawmaker, officials said Wednesday.

Hernandez also has filed court papers denying  allegations in a separate civil lawsuit by Carolina Taillon that he whipped her with a belt and bragged about using cocaine.

The decision by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office stems from an incident in October when Hernandez and Taillon got into a loud argument at the Lazy Dog Cafe in West Covina. The D.A.’s report said Hernandez said during the argument that "he was going to call police about (Taillon) threatening a member of the state Assembly." Instead, Taillon called the police, "considering the comment as a threat to her."

Taillon told the responding officers Hernandez had assaulted her on two separate occasions in July, "once 'whipping her with his belt' as he is the 'Assembly Majority Whip,' " said the report by Deputy Dist. Atty. Manuel Garcia Jr.

In rejecting the case, Garcia said there were no independent witnesses to the two alleged assaults, Hernandez did not admit to the allegations, Taillon was late in reporting them and she was arrested in 2002 on domestic violence allegations, "creating possibility of self-defense claim."

The decision was welcomed by Aldo A. Flores, an attorney for Hernandez. He predicted the same result in the civil case filed by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred. "We believe it's frivolous and we will make short work of it," Flores said of the civil suit.

The lawsuit alleges that on one occasion, Hernandez told Taillon "that the Speaker of the Assembly had called a medical team to come to the building because defendant Hernandez felt like he was going to die after using cocaine."

Flores said there was a medical incident in which Hernandez sought treatment from a nurse working at the Capitol, but it had nothing to do with drugs. "That was from exhaustion," Flores said. "He works very hard."

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Two San Gabriel Valley candidates under fire

Assemblyman Hernandez passed a drug test, attorney says

Assemblyman Roger Hernandez found not guilty of drunk driving

--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina). Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press


 

California lawmaker pushes driver's licenses for more illegal immigrants

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A week after California began issuing driver’s licenses to a select group of young illegal immigrants, a state lawmaker has proposed that licenses be provided to many others who are unlawfully in the country.

A new state  law that took effect Jan. 1 allows driver's licenses to be issued to those given a work permit as part of an Obama administration program that suspends deportation for many people who arrived illegally as children.

Now, Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D- Salinas) has introduced AB 60, which would provide California driver's licenses to anyone who can show they pay taxes, regardless of their immigration status.

Alejo estimates there are up to a million illegal immigrants who are driving without licenses and thus many are on the road without proper training, testing or insurance. His bill would allow licenses if someone provides the Department of Motor Vehicles with a federal individual taxpayer identification number or other document deemed proof of paying taxes.

"Having uninsured drivers is a hazard for everyone," Alejo said. "The Safe and Responsible Driver Act improves safety on our roadways because it will ensure that immigrants that pay taxes will be eligible for a driver’s license with insurance requirements."

Gov. Jerry Brown signed last year’s bill, citing "the unique status of these students," but has voiced concerns about providing licenses to all illegal immigrants.

The legislation is opposed by Barbara Coe, president of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform. She worries that driver's licenses will allow illegal immigrants to access other services and rights available to U.S. citizens. "I do not support rewarding lawbreakers in any shape or form," Coe said.

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Report: Parks agency hid millions

Lawmakers vow to close loophole in rape law

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: A lawmaker wants more illegal immigrants to be eligible for driver's licenses. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Assembly speaker restricts press access to lawmakers [Updated]

JohnPerezReporters who cover the California Assembly face new hurdles to interviewing lawmakers under rules ordered by Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) for this year's legislative session.

Ending the longstanding practice of reporters interviewing legislators at the rear of the lower house's chambers, the Assembly speaker now requires those conversations to be conducted outside in the hallway.

[UPDATE, Jan. 8, 4:23 p.m.: Perez's office told the Times it has reconsidered the new rule and will still allow reporters to interview lawmakers in the rear of the Assembly chambers -- though those interviews must be conducted in a designated, cordoned-off area.]

The new rules also bar reporters from walking on the Assembly floor to talk to lawmakers after the lower house adjourns for the day. Such contacts were another longstanding practice.

Robin Swanson, Perez's spokeswoman, said the new rules were instituted to "make the Assembly floor more efficient and limit the disturbances so all members can do their jobs and focus on the legislation at hand."

Asked what prompted the changes, she could not cite specific instances in which reporters disrupted the business of the Assembly, only saying that the new rules were meant to "reduce noise interference" during sessions.

Compared with other state Legislatures, she said the new rules of the California Assembly are "pretty middle-of-the-road."

This is not the first time Perez has battled the Capitol press corps over public access and the legislative process.

In 2011, Assembly administrators denied newspapers' requests to examine legislators' current spending records, claiming that they were confidential under provisions in the Legislative Open Records Act. The media outlets sued, and a Sacramento County Superior Court judge later ruled that Assembly administrators had improperly withheld the records and chided the lower house for its “somewhat ironic” view of the open-records law.

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Lawmakers vow to close legal loophole in rape cases

Legislators vow to change law on rape by impersonation

Assembly speaker says Senate should clear way for rape bill

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

twitter.com/mjmishak

Photo: Assembly Speaker John A. Perez speaks on the Assembly floor during the legislative session in 2011. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Assembly speaker introduces bill to close legal loophole in rape cases

 

JohnPerezAssembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) has joined with a Republican lawmaker to introduce legislation that would close a legal loophole that led a state appeals court to overturn the rape conviction of a California man.

Citing a 19th century law, the Los Angeles-based 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled last week that a man who impersonates someone in order to have sexual intercourse may be guilty of rape only if the victim was married and the man was pretending to be her husband.

"This is an appalling failure of justice, and I am committed to acting swiftly to prevent a similar occurrence in the future," Perez said in a statement. "Like every Californian, I was deeply disturbed by this decision, and my colleagues and I will work on eliminating this glaring loophole in state law and protect Californians from such a gross violation."

The legislation, AB 65, would expand the definition of rape to include cases where a perpetrator impersonates a person's boyfriend or girlfriend.

Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo) is the measure's co-author. He introduced similar legislation in 2011, but it died in the state Senate Public Safety Committee, where lawmakers have a longstanding policy of shelving bills that could exacerbate the state's prison overcrowding crisis.

"Today, Republicans and Democrats are joining together to make an important statement -- the Legislature will not stand for rapists getting away with their heinous acts because of an ancient provision in state law," Achadjian said in a statement. "The overwhelming response last week to an injustice in the law that I’ve been fighting to end for quite some time will give our proposal the strong momentum it needs to be enacted into law."

The legislation has the support of 13 state senators and 30 Assembly members.

Lawmakers vow to close legal loophole in rape cases

Legislators vow to change law on rape by impersonation

Assembly speaker says Senate should clear way for rape bill

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

twitter.com/mjmishak

Photo: Assembly Speaker John A. Perez speaks on the Assembly floor during the legislative session in 2011. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Replace Columbus Day with Native American Day, lawmaker proposes

 Assemblyman Roger Hernandez has proposed to replace Columbus Day with Native American Day.A California lawmaker has proposed replacing  Columbus Day with Native American Day and making it a state holiday.

Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D–West Covina) introduced a bill that would make the switch for the second Monday of October.The state stopped providing state workers with the day as a paid holiday a few years ago.

The day currently honors Christopher Columbus as an explorer who was instrumental in Europe's discovery of America. But others say that led to terrible times.

"Columbus Day is still recognized in California, despite the egregious actions taken against Native American people," Hernandez said in a statement.

A release issued by Hernandez's office said the legislation is "inspired by the recognition that the so-called discovery of the Americas by Columbus eventually led to the genocide of Native Americans. This bill hence provides the proper respect and recognition to our Native American nations."

AB 55 has already run into opposition in the Legislature from a lawmaker who believes Columbus should still be honored.

"As a proud fifth-generation Italian American, I support Columbus Day and the contributions of Italians to California," said Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton).

ALSO:

Report: Parks agency hid millions

Lawmakers vow to close loophole in rape law

California starts emptying solitary confinement cells

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina). Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

 

 

 

 

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