After an emotional debate, state lawmakers on Saturday gave final legislative approval to a controversial bill that would end the lifetime listing of many convicted sex offenders on a public registry in California.
The bill, which was shelved then revived, was sent to the governor on the last day of the legislative session with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) calling it one of the most difficult votes she has cast.
“It’s not an easy thing to do, but sometimes we have to make hard votes,” Gonzalez Fletcher told her colleagues, adding that being a mom made it difficult to change a system aimed at tracking rapists and child molesters.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed legislation to ensure farm labor contractors train employees on how to prevent and report sexual assault, a response to a 2013 PBS Frontline investigation that found sexual violence against women was a pervasive problem in California fields.
Senate Bill 295 by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) makes sexual harassment training mandatory at all businesses that supervise farm employees or provide them with lodging, transportation or other services.
The training has to be conducted or interpreted in a language that employees can understand, the law stipulates, and farm labor contractors will have to provide proof of all of their materials and resources to the Farm Labor Commission as part of the license renewal process.
California candidate for governor Antonio Villaraigosa wants the state to bring back an urban renewal program to fund low-income housing.
"Solving our state's growing housing crisis will take a sustained commitment and creative thinking," Villaraigosa wrote in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle. "But when it comes to giving local governments the tools they need, we don't need to reinvent the wheel."
Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers eliminated a state redevelopment program in 2011 as a cost-cutting move aimed at saving nearly $2 billion during the state's budget crisis. The program allowed cities to target run-down neighborhoods for investment and use a share of property tax dollars generated by development to fund improvements, including financing low-income housing. But doing so required the state to spend more to support public schools, and Brown derided the agencies as being rife with abuses of taxpayer dollars.
The potential repeal of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, which allows taxpayers to write off those taxes on their federal returns, would hit especially hard in wealthier areas, some of which are on the exact turf Democrats are trying to win over in Southern California.
Details of the overall tax reform plan have yet to be worked out, but so far, vulnerable California Republicans are not joining GOP colleagues in other states who have said they won’t accept the repeal of the deduction, and some of them seem willing to negotiate.