Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 9, 2011
Gov. Jerry Brown signs farmworker bill

Four months after vetoing labor-backed legislation that would have made it easier to unionize farmworkers - touching off a highly personal, late-night protest at the Capitol - Gov. Jerry Brown announced this evening that he has signed the compromise measure he helped negotiate.

Senate Bill 126, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, gives farmworkers greater protections in organizing disputes with growers, including allowing the state's Agricultural Labor Relations Board to certify a union when it determines grower misconduct affected an election's outcome.

Brown signed the landmark Agricultural Labor Relations Act when he was governor before, from 1975 to 1983, but his June veto tested his relationship with his longtime allies in the United Farm Workers union. The union and legislative Democrats cheered the compromise law.

"This change to existing law is a significant advancement," Steinberg said in a prepared statement. "The idea here is simple - if the Agricultural Labor Relations Board finds employer misconduct affected the results of the election and further determines that it cannot conduct a fair second election, the board may certify the union without further delay. I applaud the Governor for his action."

October 9, 2011
Jerry Brown vetoes industrial hemp, pregnant inmate bills

Gov. Jerry Brown today vetoed legislation that would have permitted the cultivation of industrial hemp in California, though the Democratic governor didn't seem happy about it.

Senate Bill 676, by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would have created an eight-year, pilot program for the cultivation of industrial hemp in Imperial, Kern, Kings and San Joaquin counties.

In a veto message, Brown said federal law considers industrial hemp to be a regulated, controlled substance, and that failure to obtain a federal permit would subject California farmers to federal prosecution.

"Although I am not signing this measure, I do support a change in federal law," Brown said in a veto message. "Products made from hemp - clothes, food, and bath products - are legally sold in California every day. It is absurd that hemp is being imported into the state, but our farmers cannot grow it."

Brown also vetoed Assembly Bill 568, by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, which would have prohibited prison guards from shackling pregnant inmates unless necessary.

"At first blush, I was inclined to sign this bill because it certainly seems inappropriate to shackle a pregnant inmate unless absolutely necessary," Brown said in a veto message. "However, the language of this measure goes too far, prohibiting not only shackling, but also the use of handcuffs or restraints of any kind except under ill-defined circumstances."

October 9, 2011
Jerry Brown signs sobriety checkpoint bill

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation restricting local police from impounding cars at sobriety checkpoints solely because a driver is unlicensed, but he vetoed other checkpoint restrictions.

Supporters of the bill Brown signed, Assembly Bill 353, by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, argued small cities used sobriety checkpoints to make money by impounding cars from unlicensed, low-income drivers who could not afford to retrieve them.

Brown, a Democrat, announced this afternoon that he vetoed legislation that would have defined how sobriety checkpoints are conducted in line with a California Supreme Court decision. In a veto message, Brown said the measure would have imposed greater restrictions than currently required by the court, for example stating a preference that checkpoints operate after dusk.

"This measure would also require law enforcement to announce the specific location of a checkpoint, 48 hours in advance, allowing drunk drivers to avoid detection altogether," Brown wrote.

Brown said the bill, Assembly Bill 1389, by Assemblyman Mike Allen, D-Santa Rosa, is "far too restrictive on local law enforcement."

October 9, 2011
Jerry Brown signs law banning tanning bed use for children

Children of the Golden State: Prepare to fake bake no more.

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation prohibiting minors from using tanning beds, he announced this afternoon, making California the first state in the nation to adopt such a ban.

Senate Bill 746, by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, was supported by doctors, nurses and the American Cancer Society. The tanning industry argued current law - requiring parental consent for children between age 14 and 18 - was sufficient.

"I praise Gov. Brown for his courage in taking this much-needed step to protect some of California's most vulnerable residents - our kids - from what the 'House of Medicine' has conclusively shown is lethally dangerous: ultraviolet-emitting radiation from tanning beds," Lieu said in a prepared statement. "If everyone knew the true dangers of tanning beds, they'd be shocked.

Brown, a Democrat, vetoed legislation that would have required health facilities where mammography examinations are performed to provide notice to patients who have dense breast tissue.

He said in vetoing Senate Bill 791, by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, that he talked to doctors and others about the proposed notification and "struggled over the words," unsure if such a notification would increase knowledge or cause unnecessary anxiety.

"If the state must mandate a notice about breast density - and I am not certain it should - such a notice must be more carefully crafted, with words that educate more than they prescribe," Brown said in his veto message.

October 9, 2011
Jerry Brown signs bill letting minors seek HPV vaccinations

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation allowing children who are 12 and older to seek medical care to prevent sexually transmitted infections without parental consent, including vaccinations against human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.

Assembly Bill 499, by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, was sponsored by public health officials and opposed by parental rights advocates, vaccination opponents and religious and conservative groups.

Randy Thomasson, president of the conservative, said in a prepared statement that Brown "obviously doesn't care about informed consent for patients or parental consent for dads and moms."

Brown, a Democrat, also announced today signing Senate Bill 946, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, requiring health insurance policies to cover certain autism early intervention behavioral therapy.

But in a signing statement, Brown said the mandate will automatically expire if the federal government does not consider the services "essential" in its health care overhaul.

"While this bill provides relief for families of autistic children and some clarity for health plans, insurers and providers, there are remaining questions about effectiveness, duration, and the cost of the covered treatments that must be sorted out," Brown wrote in a signing statement. "Under national health care reform, the federal government will establish 'essential health benefits.' If the coverage established by this bill is not included as an essential benefit, the mandate of Senate Bill 946 will automatically expire."

Advocates said the bill would ensure treatment for autistic children, while insurers said the mandate would increase costs.

"This is a critical victory for thousands of California children and families," Steinberg said in a prepared statement. "For many of them, having this therapy covered by their insurance is the difference between despair and hope."

Editor's note: This post updated at 3:55 p.m. to include Thomasson's remarks.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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