A raft of stringent new gun-control measures -- as well as bills to raise California's minimum wage, grant driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and set regulations for fracking of oil and gas wells -- were advanced Friday by committees holding the Legislature's purse strings.
Friday was the deadline for fiscal committees to report bills to the floor, and so both chambers' appropriations committees faced hundreds of last-minute decisions.
Among bills that didn't make the cut during the wild day in the state Capitol were those that would have changed CalWORKS rules to let women who get pregnant while on welfare claim benefits for their babies; let experienced nurse practitioners work independently of doctors' supervision; and banned "bullet buttons" that allow fast reloading of semi-automatic rifles.
The bullet-button bill, SB47, was the only big gun-control measure that didn't advance Friday. A spokesman for the author, Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said the senator's holding it back "because this is a complicated body of law, and we want to take our time and make sure the language is carefully crafted so we do not create further loopholes."
The Assembly Appropriations Committee sent to the Assembly floor the rest of the Lifesaving Intelligent Firearms Enforcement (LIFE) Act package shepherded by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, including one that would deem any semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine to be an assault weapon banned under state law.
Others bills in the package would require a background check for ammunition purchases; outlaw ownership of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds; update the state's definition of illegal shotguns; require safety certificate requirements for long-gun purchases; and expand the list of Californian convicts who can't legally own guns to include more crimes.
"We've seen the tragedies all too often when dangerous people have access to weapons that serve no other purpose than killing as many people as possible in the shortest time possible," Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said late Friday. "The LIFE Act, now one vote away from the governor's desk, will close those loopholes in California's laws."
Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee sent to the Senate floor Assembly bills that would create a state database to track all ammunition purchases and make it illegal to build your own high-capacity magazines; ban hunters' use of lead ammunition; and tighten exemptions to the law prohibiting purchase of handguns that haven't been tested and deemed safe by the state.
On matters environmental, the Assembly Appropriations Committee advanced SB731 to modernize the California Environmental Quality Act by encouraging urban infill while reducing administrative and legal delays, and SB4, to set up regulations for use of hydraulic fracturing -- more commonly known as "fracking" -- and acid-injection methods for extracting oil and natural gas.
Some of SB4's critics say only a moratorium will keep the state safe from fracking's environmental damage. But author Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas, said Friday the bill will "address serious unanswered questions about the safety and environmental risks" and create strict regulations "to hold the oil industry accountable for the true costs of its activities."
On labor issues, the Assembly committee passed AB10 to raise California's minimum wage to $8.25 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015 and $9.25 in 2016, and then adjust it annually for inflation in each subsequent year. But rather than sending it to the floor, the committee sent the bill back to the Rules Committee for further talks to settle opposition from groups such as the California Chamber of Commerce.
AB10 author Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas,on Friday called it "vitally important" and said he's confident it will advance with support from Steinberg and the California Labor Federation.
"Every day, I see headlines from around the nation and our great state that show a growing support for raising the minimum wage," he said. "It's never been more clear to me that now is the time to give our minimum wage workers a raise."
The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced AB241, a "Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights," that would extend labor protections such as overtime pay and meal and rest breaks to domestic workers.
Supporters and foes reached a deal to tone down SB594, which would bar nonprofits from spending public money to campaign for or against a ballot measure or candidate. Foes including the League of California Cities, the California School Boards Association, the California District Attorneys Association and others are satisfied with amendments adopted in the Assembly Appropriations Committee to tighten the definition of public funds, exempt school entities from the bill and make other tweaks. The committee advanced the bill toward a floor vote.
In other action Friday, the state Senate voted to concur with Assembly amendments to Sen. Jim Beall's bill to end the unfair gouging of court-conserved adults who challenge questionable billings by estate managers. The bill was inspired by a San Jose Mercury News investigation of conservatorships gone wrong. Friday's 25-11 floor vote sends SB156 to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.
And the Assembly concurred in Senate amendments to a bill that would let nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physicians assistants with proper training perform the most common type of first-trimester abortion. AB154 now goes to Brown's desk as well.
HEADED FOR ASSEMBLY FLOOR VOTES:
SB 4 (Pavley) -- to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," and acid-injection methods for extracting oil and gas
SB 53 (De Leon) -- to require a background check for all ammunition purchases and licenses for all sellers
SB 135 (Padilla) -- to establish an earthquake warning system
SB 374 (Steinberg) -- to ban semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and retroactively requires an ownership record for all guns
SB 396 (Hancock) -- to outlaw ownership of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition
SB 567 (Jackson) -- to update California's definition of an illegal shotgun to include a shotgun with a revolving cylinder and a rifled bore
SB 683 (Block) -- expands safety certificate requirements to long guns, rather than just handguns
SB 731 (Steinberg) -- to update the California Environmental Quality Act
SB 755 (Wolk) -- to expand list of convicts who can't legally own guns to include of multiple drug or alcohol convictions, carrying ammunition onto school grounds, active participation in street gangs, and others
HEADED FOR SENATE FLOOR VOTES:
AB 48 (Skinner) -- to create a state database to track all ammo purchases, and make it illegal to build your own high-capacity magazines
AB 60 (Alejo) -- to let people, including undocumented immigrants, use federal individual taxpayer ID numbers when seeking a California driver's license
AB 169 (Dickinson) -- to tighten exemptions to the law prohibiting purchase of handguns not tested and deemed safe by the state
AB 241 (Ammiano) -- Domestic Workers Bill of Rights
AB 711 (Rendon) -- to ban use of lead ammunition by California hunters
AB 1131 (Skinner) -- to extend firearms prohibition on those who make a credible threat of violence from six months to five years
SB 47 (Yee) -- to prohibit so-called bullet buttons and other devices used to circumvent the state's assault-weapons ban and allow fast reloading
AB 145 (Perea/Rendon) -- shifts responsibility for the California Safe Drinking Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund from the Department of Public Health to the State Water Resources Control Board
AB 271 (Mitchell) -- to change CalWORKS rules to allow women who get pregnant while on welfare to claim benefits for their children; could have cost $220 million per year