California Senate approves bills on voter registration, guns

An airsoft rifle on the desk of former La Palma police chief Vincent Giampa looks like a genuine assault rifle. Legislation that cleared the California Senate on Tuesday would require such guns to be painted bright colors.
(Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times)

SACRAMENTO -- Californians would be able to preregister to vote at age 16 and BB guns would have to be painted bright colors under two of the many pieces of legislation approved Tuesday by the state Senate.

The measures, which now go to the Assembly for consideration, include SB 113, which allows 16-year-olds to preregister to vote, although they would still not be able to cast ballots until they turn 18.

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) said her bill would get teenagers excited about their civics classes and make it more likely that they will later participate in elections.


“California has one of the lowest voter registration rates in the nation,” Jackson told her colleagues. By registering early, young people “will feel they have some skin in the game,” she said.

Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) opposed the measure, which passed on a 24-8 vote. He said it would be a burden for election clerks to track those who preregister and then move from place to place before they are old enough to vote.

The Senate also approved a bill by Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles), SB 199, that would require BB and airsoft guns to be painted bright colors so law enforcement officers could distinguish them from lethal firearms.

De Leon cited the recent shooting death of a 13-year-old who was carrying an airsoft gun that was a replica of an AK-47 assault weapon. “Law enforcement officers have extreme difficulty distinguishing between the real thing and what is fake,” De Leon said.

The Senate also approved a measure that would reduces the number of preemptory challenges that defendants in misdemeanor cases can file to remove jurors from 10 to five to save money and speed up trials. That bill, SB 794, was submitted by Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa).

Just minutes after Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) was convicted of eight felonies Tuesday, the Senate approved one of his bills, SB 616, which allows Caltrans to provide state matching grants to California airports even if they have started improvements before receiving the funds. Wright was found guilty of perjury and voter fraud.



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