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Gov. Brown prohibits ban on artificial lawns as voter turnout bill advances

Assemblyman Richard Bloom, left, with Sen. Ben Hueso, takes a picture of the votes being posted for his measure to phase out the use of microbeads in personal care products.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Seeking to promote drought-conscious alternatives to thirsty lawns, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday approved a measure that prohibits homeowners associations from banning artificial turf.

The law, which goes into effect immediately, applies to approximately 4.8 million homes. The state estimates that landscape irrigation represents 43% of urban water use.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the author of the bill, AB 349, said synthetic grass can help homeowners curb their water use.

“The grass may be fake, but the amount of water a homeowner can save by installing it is very real,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

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Also on Friday, lawmakers took action to address the dismal turnout in last year’s statewide election. They sent Brown a bill, SB 439, that would allow counties to set up satellite offices where people could conditionally register to vote and provisionally cast ballots for 14 days before an election and on election day.

“The passage of this measure represents a major step forward in the effort to encourage voter turnout in California,” said the author, state Sen. Benjamin Allen (D-Santa Monica).

Legislators also sent the governor two bills by Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin) that would outlaw unmanned aerial drones over prisons, jails and schools in California.

“Banning drones over correctional facilities ensures these devices cannot be used to drop contraband inside the facilities,” Gaines told his colleagues.

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SB 271 forbids drones over schools, and SB 170 prohibits them over prisons and jails.

In the Assembly, lawmakers gave final approval to a measure that would tighten restrictions on the sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn. The bill, AB 96 by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), now awaits Brown’s signature or veto.

So does a measure passed earlier in the week that would help immigrants who are victims of crime obtain a visa. It would require police to certify whether a victim has been helpful in a criminal investigation.

That bill, SB 674 by Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Atkins, also went to the governor.

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A day after failing to muster the necessary votes, the Senate approved an amended bill that would prohibit the sale of personal care products that contain plastic microbeads starting in 2020.

The particles are a “significant source of pollution in our water bodies, including the Los Angeles River and San Francisco Bay,” said Sen. Ben Hueso (D-Logan Heights).

The measure, AB 888 by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), now would exempt natural exfoliates and eliminate a requirement to have the state Department of Toxic Substances Control review alternative materials for microbeads.

Sen. Joel Anderson of San Diego was among the bill’s opponents, calling it “heavy handed” and saying it would hurt an industry that is innovating.

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The measure goes next to the Assembly.

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

Twitter: @mcgreevy99

melanie.mason@latimes.com

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Twitter: @melmason


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