Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

Gov. Jerry Brown, closing in on his Sunday night signing deadline for bills passed in this year's legislative session, still has a number of noteworthy measures on his desk.

Here's a list compiled by Bee Capitol Bureau Chief Dan Smith that you can use to keep score:

Medical access for minors
AB 499 (Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego)
What it would do: Allow those 12 and older to seek medical care to prevent sexually transmitted infections without parental consent.
Analysis: A coalition of parental rights advocates, vaccination opponents and conservative and religious groups is lobbying furiously against the bill, flooding Brown's office with phone calls and characterizing the measure as an affront to parents' rights. Supporters cast the bill as a logical, and potentially lifesaving, step to promote public health, pointing out that those as young as 12 have for decades been able to consent on their own to be diagnosed and treated for sexually transmitted diseases.

Needle exchange
AB 604 (Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley)
What it would do: Allow the state Department of Public Health to authorize a needle-exchange program in any city or county where it determines that conditions exist for rapid spread of HIV, viral hepatitis or other potentially deadly or disabling infections.
Analysis: The lobbying battle pits supporters - AIDS activists, other health-care advocates and the nurses union - vs. cities and a smattering of law enforcement groups. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed similar efforts.

Epilepsy medication
SB 161 (Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar)
What it would do: Allow school districts to let nonmedical school employees who volunteer and receive training to administer anti-seizure medication to epileptic students.
Analysis: School districts pushed the bill, citing a dwindling number of on-site school nurses. The nurses union and others in organized labor fought the bill, arguing that the medication, which is given rectally, should be administered only by licensed medical personnel.

Autism coverage
SB 946 (Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento)
What it would do: Require health insurance policies to cover certain autism early intervention behavioral therapy.
Analysis: Autism advocates said the bill ensures that autistic children will get treatment, while insurers and health plans say the mandate will drive up costs for policyholders. Steinberg exempted publicly funded health plans - MediCal, Healthy Families and plans that cover state employees - which lowers the public cost and may make it more attractive to Brown.

Tanning beds
SB 746 (Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance)
What it would do: Prohibit children under 18 years old from using tanning beds.
Analysis: California would be the first state in the nation to ban minors from fake baking. Brown will weigh health arguments from doctors, nurses and the American Cancer Society against the tanning industry, which argues the current law - requiring parental consent for tanners between ages 14 and 18 - is working.

Open carry
AB 144 (Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada-Flintridge)
What it would do: Criminalize openly carrying an unloaded handgun in public. The bill exempts peace officers, military gatherings, gun shows and hunting.
Analysis: The measure, pushed by law enforcement and opposed by gun rights groups, targets the "open carry" movement, marked by gatherings of people displaying their firearms in public places to protest gun-control laws.

Sobriety checkpoints
AB 353 and AB 1389 (Assemblymen Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles and Mike Allen, D-Santa Rosa)
What they would do: AB 353 restricts local police from impounding cars at sobriety checkpoints solely because a driver is unlicensed. AB 1389 defines how sobriety checkpoints are to be conducted in line with a California Supreme Court decision.
Analysis: Both bills seek to stop what some see as a money-making scheme by some small cities, which use sobriety checkpoints to impound thousands of cars from unlicensed low-income drivers who can't afford to retrieve them. Law enforcement groups and Mothers Against Drunk Drivers oppose AB 1389.

Rifle sales records
AB 809 (Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles)
What it would do: Require the state to keep records of rifle sales, as they do now for handguns.
Analysis: Police and gun control advocates say the measure, which would take effect in January 2014, would increase public safety by informing law enforcement of what guns they may face at a crime scene. Opponents say it would accomplish little because criminals do not comply with gun registration rules.

Cellphones in prisons
SB 26 (Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles)
What it would do: Toughens restrictions on inmates having cellphones inside prisons and prescribes a six-month sentence and a fine up to $5,000 for smuggling a cell phone into a prison.
Analysis: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar version of this bill last year, saying it was too soft on inmates who have cellphones and prison guards and others who smuggle them.

Alcohol and self-checkout lanes
AB 183 (Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco)
What it would do: Prohibit grocery stores from selling beer, wine or liquor using electronic self-checkout lanes.
Analysis: The bill was pushed by the grocery clerks' union and police chiefs, who argued that it would help stop underage drinking. Business groups and grocers opposed the measure, noting that clerks oversee alcohol sales at self-checkout lanes now. They said the bill was motivated by the clerks' union trying to stop Fresh & Easy, a nonunion chain that uses only staff-supervised self-checkout lanes.

SB 126 (Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento)
What it would do: Give farmworkers greater protections in labor organizing disputes with growers by tightening the Agricultural Labor Relations Board timelines, toughening mandatory mediation and allowing the board to certify a labor organization if it finds gross employer misconduct that prevents a fair union election in the future.
Analysis: Brown will sign it because it is a compromise he proposed after he vetoed a bill that would have let farmworkers organize by submitting signed petition cards instead of by secret ballot.

Shark fins
AB 376 (Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino)
What it would do: Ban sale or possession of shark fins, the chief ingredient in shark fin soup. A companion measure, Assembly Bill 853, exempts sharks legally caught by California fishermen.
Analysis: Brown will balance the positions of environmentalists against the traditions of the Chinese American community. "Finning" is already illegal in California, but the possession of imported fins is not.

Budget reform
SB 14 (Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis)
What it would do: Require the state to begin "performance-based budgeting." Each state department would have to provide lawmakers its goals, performance measures, target outcomes and performance data from previous years.
Analysis: This could be a no-brainer for Brown. It passed unanimously and was pushed by a long list of good government, labor and business groups.

Tax breaks
SB 508 (Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis)
What it would do: Require all corporate and individual tax breaks enacted after Jan. 1 to automatically end in 10 years. Each proposed tax break would have to include specific goals and performance criteria.
Analysis: The automatic sunset would change a political dynamic that nags Democrats, at least for future tax breaks: they can pass on a majority vote, but require a two-thirds vote to repeal. Republicans and their business allies opposed the bill, arguing that the sunset provision should apply to spending proposals, too.

Fingerprint requirement
AB 6 (Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar)
What it would do: Among other things, remove the requirement that food stamp recipients be fingerprinted.
Analysis: Supporters note that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited the fingerprinting requirement as one reason California has one of the worst participation rates in the federal food stamp program. Previous attempts either died in the Legislature or were vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Dream Act II
AB 131 (Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles)
What it would do: Allow undocumented California State University and community college students who are eligible for in-state tuition to receive publicly funded student aid.
Analysis: Brown sought and received changes in the bill to lower its costs by not allowing graduates of technical schools and adult schools to participate, and delaying implementation until January 2013. He signed a companion bill that allows students access to private financial aid.

Ballot measures
SB 202 (Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley)
What it would do: Require all initiatives be put before voters in November elections and moves a legislative-approved ballot measure on spending restrictions from the June 2012 ballot to November 2014.
Analysis: The bill was pushed by unions, which want the anti-labor "paycheck protection" measure to appear on next November's ballot, when they believe the political conditions will be more favorable for them to defeat it.

Online voter registration
SB 397 (Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco)
What it would do: Allow for creation of an online voter registration system - using signatures from the DMV to verify eligibility - in time for the 2012 election.
Analysis: Supported by voters' groups, the bill was opposed by the DMV, which could signal a veto. The department believes developing the system in time for next year's election is unrealistic.


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