Every year at the end of the legislative session, lobbyists and staff members gather on the second floor of the Capitol rotunda and toss pennies off the balcony. If they land a coin in the crown of the statue below, it's supposed to bring good luck.
But some blamed the penny tossing for damage to the statue of Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus. And with another legislative session ending on Wednesday, officials took steps to cut off the ritual before it began.
This week, the Legislature approved two measures, SB 1069 from Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and AB 2299 from Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) aimed at forcing local governments to approve the secondary housing units, often known as “granny flats.”
“People are shocked and frustrated when they see the enormous fees and requirements that are preventing them from adding a small unit or converting a room in their house,” Wieckowski said in a statement. “SB 1069 will eliminate unnecessary fees and reduce requirements to give homeowners more control over their home.”
Drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services could soon face stricter background checks under a measure that passed the California Legislature on Wednesday.
The bill would prohibit the companies from hiring drivers who are registered sex offenders, have been convicted of violent felonies or, within the last seven years, have a driving-under-the-influence conviction.
The bill's author, Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), said the measure “will help ensure the safety of passengers utilizing [ride-hailing] services." He noted that prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco last year found 25 people with lengthy criminal histories driving for Uber.
Alarmed that dozens in Los Angeles have been sickened after ingesting a synthetic drug called “spice,” state lawmakers on Wednesday sent the governor a bill outlawing possession of the substance.
The urgency measure requested by the California Narcotics Officers Assn. would make a first offense of possession of specified synthetic cannabinoids or stimulants an infraction. A second or third offense could be a misdemeanor. It is already a crime to sell the drugs.
Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) cited the situation on Los Angeles' skid row in which more than 50 people have been hospitalized in the last few weeks, many suspected of using the drug.
California soon could expand its family leave law to 2.7 million residents across the state, the latest of legislative efforts this session that have sought to assist working parents.
SB 654, dubbed the New Parent Leave Act, is headed to the governor’s desk after it passed out of the state Senate on Wednesday with a 24-12 vote.
The bill would allow parents at smaller companies with 20 to 49 employees to take six weeks’ leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, without fear of losing their jobs. Current state law extends only such job protection to those at businesses with 50 or more employees.
The California Legislature wraps up its two-year session Wednesday. As lawmakers debate and vote on hundreds of bills in the final few days, lobbyists and residents have swarmed the Capitol to advocate on issues ranging from energy policy to farmworker overtime pay.
Here are some images showing what it's like in Sacramento at the close of session. Click the link to see the full gallery.
Ana Matosantos, who served two governors as budget director, was appointed Wednesday by President Obama as one of seven members of a financial oversight board to assist cash-strapped Puerto Rico.
Matosantos' role on the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, created through a new federal effort to help the U.S. territory through its fiscal crisis, will be to help create a new dialogue between the island's government and its creditors.