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Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson speaks in support of a California bill aimed at protecting workers from forced arbitration
Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson speaks in support of a California bill aimed at protecting workers from forced arbitration (AP Photo/Sophia Bollag, File)

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed a pair of #MeToo-inspired bills that would have made it easier to take sexual harassment complaints to court.

One measure, Assembly Bill 3080, sought to end the practice of employers requiring workers to use private arbitration instead of the courts to air out sexual harassment complaints.

Arbitration is one of several ways businesses can opt to settle disputes outside of the courts. The practice has come under scrutiny in the #MeToo era as a way to shield complaints of improper workplace behavior from public view and protect harassers from accountability.

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(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed a bill to help hundreds of thousands of Californians convicted of marijuana crimes have felonies reduced to misdemeanors and lower-level offenses removed from their record.

The measure builds on the 2016 voter approval of Proposition 64, which legalized the growing and sale of marijuana and allowed residents to possess up to an ounce of cannabis or six home-grown plants for recreational use.

The ballot measure allows those with past convictions to petition the courts to expunge misdemeanors and reduce felony charges.

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  • California Legislature
Clippers owner Steve Ballmer
Clippers owner Steve Ballmer (Los Angeles Times)

A potential new arena for the Clippers and a ballpark for the Oakland A’s received a boost Sunday when Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills that aim to speed construction for both facilities.

The bills attempt to limit to nine months any litigation against the projects under the state’s primary environmental law governing development, potentially saving the facilities from facing years tied up in court.

The Clippers want to build a new arena in Inglewood and are aiming for construction to be completed by 2024, when the team’s lease at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles expires.

  • State government
  • California Legislature
(Manoocher Deghati / Agence France-Presse)

Gov. Jerry Brown broke ranks with Democrats and abortion rights advocates Sunday by refusing to require student health centers at California’s public universities to provide abortion medication by 2022.

Brown, who vetoed a bill requiring the health centers to provide abortion pills during the first 10 weeks of a pregnancy, said those services are already available to University of California and California State University students.

“According to a study sponsored by supporters of this legislation, the average distance to abortion providers in campus communities varies from five to seven miles, not an unreasonable distance,” the governor wrote in his veto of Senate Bill 320.

Sexual assault survivors along with their supporters at the #MeToo Survivors' March on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles on Nov. 12, 2017.
Sexual assault survivors along with their supporters at the #MeToo Survivors' March on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles on Nov. 12, 2017. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The #MeToo movement has now made its mark on California law, with Gov. Jerry Brown signing a number of bills Sunday that were introduced following an outpouring of attention to sexual harassment and misconduct.

Among the bills approved by Brown was a measure to prohibit settlement agreements that prevent the disclosure of facts related to sexual assault, sexual harassment or workplace discrimination.

The measure, Senate Bill 820 by state Sen. Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino Hills), was inspired by reports that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein used nondisclosure agreements and settlements to resolve harassment complaints. The settlements inhibited accusers from speaking publicly about their encounters with Weinstein.

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(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

For the third year in a row, Gov. Jerry Brown rejected bills that would have restricted smoking at state beaches and parks, writing in his veto message Saturday that the “third time is not always a charm.”

Citing the danger of sparking wildfires, the risk to public health and the problem of litter, Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) introduced twin bills that would have banned smoking tobacco and marijuana and the use of electronic cigarettes at parks and beaches, but allowed parks officials to designate smoking areas.

Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) had a narrower bill that would have banned smoking near picnic areas in state parks, hoping that a more limited restriction would avoid the governor’s veto pen.

Roderick Wright resigned from the state Senate in 2014 after he was convicted for lying about living in his district.
Roderick Wright resigned from the state Senate in 2014 after he was convicted for lying about living in his district. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Saturday that opens the door for state legislators to live outside their districts while keeping a residence in the area they represent.

The new law follows the 2014 resignation of Democratic state Sen. Roderick Wright in response to his conviction for felony perjury and voting fraud.

Prosecutors said that Wright acted to make it appear that he lived in a rental complex he owned in Inglewood in order to run for the Senate seat in 2008, but that his true residence, or “domicile” under the state elections code, was actually a Baldwin Hills house outside the district.

  • California Legislature
State Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) was the author of Senate Bill 539.
State Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) was the author of Senate Bill 539. (Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a measure Saturday that would have allowed some California taxpayers to dodge the effects of the Trump administration’s federal tax overhaul.

“This measure started as a bold idea but because of adverse changes in the federal tax law, it now confuses an already complicated scheme and could invite intervention by the Internal Revenue Service,” Brown wrote in a veto message for Senate Bill 539.
 
The bill was introduced by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) to allow taxpayers to claim a charitable deduction for state tax payments above the $10,000 limit set in the tax cuts passed by Congress last year. But the IRS  announced last month that it believed such plans, which other states have passed, were tax dodges, and is working to pass a rule that would nullify them by the end of the year.
 
The bill from De León, who is running for U.S. Senate against fellow Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, would have allowed California residents to circumvent the new $10,000 deduction limit through a 75% tax credit to an existing state program that funds college tuition scholarships.

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Beginning in 2020, makeup tested on animals cannot be sold in California.
Beginning in 2020, makeup tested on animals cannot be sold in California. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Most cosmetics tested on animals will soon be illegal in California, under a new law signed Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The ban, authored by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and will apply only to cosmetics tested on animals after that date. It allows exceptions when a federal authority, such as the Food and Drug Administration, requires animal testing.

The measure passed easily in the Legislature last month after late amendments reduced its scope, removing most opposition. Prior to those amendments, some opponents had worried the ban would hurt business in China, which requires animal testing for health reasons. The amended law allows manufacturers to test products on animals to meet foreign regulations, as long as those tests are not used to confirm a product’s safety in California.

  • California Legislature
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

Voicing concern about exposing minors to marijuana, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday vetoed a measure that would have allowed parents to bring medical cannabis to school campuses for their children in districts that sign off on the practice.

State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) had proposed the legislation to provide medical help for children who suffer from epilepsy and other illnesses whose symptoms might be helped through oral, non-smokeable doses of cannabis.

The measure, Hill said, “lifts barriers for students who need medical cannabis to attend school.”