Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 12, 2013
Jerry Brown vetoes restriction on paid signature gatherers

Brownprop30sign.jpgGov. Jerry Brown vetoed labor union-backed legislation Saturday that would have limited the use of paid signature gatherers to qualify statewide ballot initiatives in California.

PHOTO GALLERY: Track key bills. See what Brown has signed or vetoed.

Assembly Bill 857, by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, would have required anyone seeking to qualify an initiative for the statewide ballot to use non-paid volunteers to collect at least 10 percent of signatures.

The measure would have excluded from the 10 percent any signatures collected using direct mail, while counting signatures gathered by an employee or member of a non-profit organization.

Critics said the bill would give labor unions, with their large memberships, an unfair advantage in California's initiative wars.

In his veto message, Brown said "the initiative process is far from perfect and monied interests have historically manipulated it at will."

But the Democratic governor, who was successful in Proposition 30, his own initiative to raise taxes last year, said "requiring a specific threshold of signatures to be gathered by volunteers will not stop abuses by narrow special interests - particularly if 'volunteer' is defined with the broad exemptions as in this bill."

He said the measure "falls short of returning to the citizen-driven system originally envisioned in 1911," the year California adopted the initiative process.

The bill was supported by the California Labor Federation and several other union groups. According to a legislative analysis, proponents of the measure said it would preserve the intent of the initiative process by ensuring measures have broad community support.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association opposed the legislation, saying it would make the initiative process more difficult in part because of cumbersome record-keeping it would require.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown campaigns for Proposition 30 at Sacramento City College on Oct. 18, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench

October 12, 2013
Jerry Brown vetoes 'biosimilars' drug bill

brownsandiego.jpgGov. Jerry Brown on Saturday vetoed a controversial bill that would have regulated how pharmacists distribute a new type of drug called "biosimilars" once they are approved by the federal government.

Senate Bill 598, by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, would have required pharmacists to notify prescribing doctors when substituting a biosimilar for brand-name biologic products, including vaccines and complex medications for diseases such as cancer.

Brown said in his veto message that he supports the use of biosimilars, and he appeared to be perplexed by the controversy surrounding the requirement that pharmacists notify prescribing physicians when using them.

"This requirement, which on its face looks reasonable, is for some reason highly controversial," Brown wrote. "Doctors with whom I have spoken would welcome this information. CalPERS and other large purchasers warn that the requirement itself would cast doubt on the safety and desirability of more cost-effective alternatives to biologics."

Brown said that because the federal government has not yet issued standards for the use of biosimilars, the legislation "strikes me as premature."

The bill was heavily lobbied, supported by drug companies and opposed by several health plans and manufacturers of generic drugs. Companies on both sides donated money to the Democratic governor's re-election campaign account after the Legislature sent Brown the bill.

Supporters had said the regulation would protect consumers, while opponents said it would hinder access to low-cost replacements.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at an event in San Diego on Oct. 10, 2013. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

October 12, 2013
Jerry Brown invokes Roman law, vetoes statute of limitations bill for sex abuse victims

brownchamberbreakfast.jpgInvoking a legal tradition of "fairness" dating back to Roman law, Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday vetoed legislation that would have extended the statute of limitations for some sex abuse victims.

PHOTO GALLERY: Track key bills. See what Brown has signed or vetoed.

Senate Bill 131, by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, would have opened a yearlong window for sex abuse victims who were excluded from a 2003 law that extended the statute of limitations.

Opponents painted the bill as an attack on the Catholic Church, and the church's political arm called it a money grab by trial lawyers.

Brown, a former Catholic seminarian, issued an unusually lengthy, three-page veto message.

"Statutes of limitation reach back to Roman law and were specifically enshrined in the English common law by the Limitations Act of 1623," he wrote. "Ever since, and in every state, including California, various limits have been imposed on the time when lawsuits may still be initiated. Even though valid and profoundly important claims are at stake, all jurisdictions have seen fit to bar actions after a lapse of years."

The Democratic governor said the value of statutes of limitations is "one of fairness."

"There comes a time when an individual or organization should be secure in the reasonable expectation that past acts are indeed in the past and not subject to further lawsuits," he wrote. "With the passage of time, evidence may be lost or disposed of, memories fade and witnesses move away or die."

The bill was backed by the National Center for Victims of Crime, the California Police Chiefs Association and the Consumer Attorneys of California. Supporters said the legislation was consistent with a growing understanding of the reasons victims of sexual abuse often wait years before reporting the crime.

Opponents of the legislation said the bill unfairly excluded public agencies, such as school districts, targeting private entities such as the Catholic Church.

The Rev. Gerald Wilkerson, president of the California Catholic Conference, issued a statement praising the veto.

He said the bill "was unfair to the vast majority of victims and unfair to all private and non-profit organizations."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the California Chamber of Commerce's annual Host Breakfast in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

October 12, 2013
Jerry Brown vetoes bill to make some drug crimes 'wobblers'

trafficstop.jpgGov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Saturday that that would have given local prosecutors discretion when deciding whether a person charged with possessing a small amount of illegal drugs should be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor.

Under Senate Bill 649, by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, possession of cocaine, heroin and other specified drugs would have been downgraded to the status of methamphetamine, Ecstasy or hashish, "wobblers" treated as felonies or misdemeanors depending on the circumstances.

Brown said in his veto message that state officials dealing with prison crowding in California are preparing "to examine in detail California's criminal justice system, including the current sentencing structure."

The Democratic governor said that "will be the appropriate time to evaluate our existing drug laws."

Supporters of the Leno bill had said it would reduce recidivism by eliminating some employment barriers resulting from a felony record. The California District Attorneys Association opposed the measure.

PHOTO CREDIT: A police officers conducts a traffic stop in Lincoln on Wednesday, September 29, 2010. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

October 12, 2013
Jerry Brown signs Tahoe governance bill

brownsandoval.jpgGov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Saturday ratifying an agreement with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval on the governance of the basin surrounding Lake Tahoe.

In the agreement, reached earlier this year, California and Nevada will continue the two-state partnership known as the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, after Nevada passed a law in 2011 in which it would have withdrawn from the compact unless California made concessions to allow more development.

The Sierra Club and other environmentalists have filed a lawsuit in federal court, fearing the agreement will lead to more development in the region.

In announcing his enactment of Senate Bill 630, by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, Brown said in a prepared statement, "Today, California reaffirmed its longstanding partnership with the state of Nevada to protect and enhance the beauty of Lake Tahoe."

PHOTO CREDIT: California Gov. Jerry Brown, left, speaks with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval at the Lake Tahoe Summit in Incline Village, Nev., on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders


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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