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  • California Legislature
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) reads a list of consumer and open internet advocacy groups who support the bill.
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) reads a list of consumer and open internet advocacy groups who support the bill. (Katy Murphy / TNS)

A state Assembly panel on Wednesday advanced major legislation to prevent companies from hindering access to the internet, setting up a battle on the floor next week over whether California will enact the strongest net neutrality protections in the country.

The 9-4 approval by the Communications and Conveyance Committee came more than three months after it initially tried to scale back the proposal but retreated amid fierce backlash from net neutrality proponents.

Senate Bill 822 would bar internet service providers from blocking, speeding up or slowing down websites and video streams, or charging websites fees for faster speeds.

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  • Ballot measures
  • California Legislature
California lawmakers voted Wednesday to ease the process for clearing the records of those convicted in the past of marijuana offenses.
California lawmakers voted Wednesday to ease the process for clearing the records of those convicted in the past of marijuana offenses. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

With marijuana legalized by the state’s voters, Californians with past convictions for cannabis-related offenses would get state help in expunging their records under a bill sent by lawmakers to the governor on Wednesday.

Proposition 64, which state voters approved in 2016, legalized the sale and use of marijuana for recreational use and permitted those with past convictions for the activity to petition the courts to clear their records.

But state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) told his colleagues Wednesday that the process is complicated, and many with pot convictions do not know about the opportunity.

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  • California Legislature
(Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

California lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a bill requiring water or milk as the primary choices for children’s meals in the state, an effort designed to combat the health effects of sugary drinks.

Senate Bill 1192 would require restaurants to shift away from offering soda or juice with those meals, though it does not prohibit a parent from requesting those options. Supporters of the bill said a number of cities in the state already have moved to limit sugary drinks as the default option for meals designed for kids.

The bill passed with no debate in the Senate, and in the Assembly last leek with only a brief debate, as supporters pointed to the negative health effects of drinks other than water, milk and dairy-free substitutes.

Adam Foss of Prosecutor Impact speaks as family members of those sentenced under the felony murder rule hold images of loved ones.
Adam Foss of Prosecutor Impact speaks as family members of those sentenced under the felony murder rule hold images of loved ones. (Mini Racker / Los Angeles Times)

Activists gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday to demand that lawmakers change California’s felony murder law, which allows defendants to be convicted of first-degree murder if a victim dies during the commission of a felony, even if the defendant was an accomplice or did not intend to kill.

A measure being considered by lawmakers, Senate Bill 1437, would change who could be sentenced for felony murder and give inmates imprisoned under the rule a chance at re-sentencing. 

Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), the author of the bill, criticized California’s felony murder rule as irrational.

  • State government
(Los Angeles Times)

California elections officials gave final approval Tuesday to a new system for counting ballots in Los Angeles County, one that uses open source software developed by local officials and design experts.

The certification of the new tally system for the county paves the way for other improvements, including redesigned absentee ballot packets, in the Nov. 6 election. It is the first election system of its kind, using publicly available source code that has been certified for use in California.

"With security on the minds of elections officials and the public, open-source technology has the potential to further modernize election administration, security, and transparency," Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a written statement.

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Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) and his wife, Margaret, were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges they used $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use and filed false campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission to mask their actions.

  • California Legislature
Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), left, and Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) celebrate after the bail overhaul was approved by the Assembly.
Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), left, and Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) celebrate after the bail overhaul was approved by the Assembly. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California lawmakers on Tuesday passed a landmark bill that would overhaul the state’s cash-bail system, replacing it with one that grants judges greater power to decide who should remain incarcerated ahead of trial.

The proposal moved out of the chamber with a 26-12 vote and now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown, who last year pledged to work with lawmakers and the state’s top Supreme Court justice to pass the legislation.

A landmark bill to end money bail in California passed out of the state Assembly on Monday, clearing a major legislative hurdle despite mounting opposition to last-minute changes that gave judges greater power to decide who should remain incarcerated ahead of trial.

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State Sen. Joel Anderson is facing a legislative investigation after a female lobbyist accused him of threatening to “bitch slap” her and harassing her at a Capitol-area bar last week, sources say.