Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lawmakers act on wages, immigration

From page A2 | September 13, 2013 |

SACRAMENTO (AP) — State lawmakers ended their final session of the year after raising California’s minimum wage to one of the highest in the nation, as they also addressed issues including environmental protection, immigrant driver’s licenses and teacher misconduct.

The Legislature adjourned early Friday after a final rush of debates and negotiations. They aren’t scheduled to return until January.

Among bills sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk was one increasing the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour. AB10 would boost the baseline wage from the current $8 by 2016.

Immigrants who are in the country illegally would be able to get California driver’s licenses under another measure. AB60 had seemed dead for the year before it was revived in the Legislature’s final hours.

While Brown has until mid-October to act, he signaled his support for both measures.

“This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally,” Brown said in a statement after the driver license bill was approved late Thursday. “Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due.”

Lawmakers also made limited changes to the landmark California Environmental Quality Act as part of a bill smoothing the way for a Sacramento Kings arena in downtown Sacramento.

Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, had pushed for broader reforms to deter lawsuits that can delay construction projects, but said he could not reach a consensus with business groups.

“There’s always more work to do. That’s why there’s another legislative session” in 2014, said Steinberg.

They also approved a bill responding to last year’s arrest of a teacher in a Los Angeles elementary school who was charged with nearly two-dozen counts of lewd conduct with students. AB375 would speed and streamline the process for dismissing teachers accused of misconduct.

Two high-profile bills died in the final hours.

SB396 would have banned ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets, even by those who now legally own them. However, lawmakers have sent Brown numerous other gun-control measures in response to recent mass shootings in other states.

The Assembly also lacked the two-thirds majority it would have needed to pass a bill intended to strip the Boy Scouts of America of its tax-exempt status because of the organization’s refusal to allow gay troop leaders. SB323 needed the supermajority because it was a tax measure.

However, the Legislature passed a pair of bills that would reverse a court decision that left 2,500 California small-business owners with unexpected tax bills. Brown will pick between SB209 and AB1412, both of which would retroactively reinstate a tax break for small businesses on capital gains. A court ruling last year prompted the Franchise Tax Board to send tax notices totaling $120 million for the years 2008 to 2012.

They also found time to rename the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, over the governor’s opposition. If ACR65 survives a legal challenge, the span would honor former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. He was the Assembly’s first black speaker and the longest-serving one in state history, presiding over the 80-member house from 1980 to 1995.


By Don Thompson



The Associated Press

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