California voters will consider expanded opportunities for state prisoners to be paroled under Gov. Jerry Brown's initiative that qualified for the fall ballot on Thursday.
Brown, who unveiled his proposal at the end of January and successfully fought back a legal challenge that he had waited too late, has insisted the proposal is both an important fix to sentencing laws he helped loosen in 1977 and necessary to help the state comply with federal court orders to shrink the prison population.
"If approved by the voters, this Public Safety Act will prevent court ordered inmate releases, encourage rehabilitation, and make California safer," said the governor in a written statement on Thursday.
An initiative to add 12 years to the life of temporary income tax rates on Californians earning above $250,000 a year secured a place on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot on Thursday.
The proposal, championed by a coalition of education and healthcare groups, seeks to extend the income tax provisions in 2012's Proposition 30. Those taxes are set to expire in 2018.
The independent Legislative Analyst's Office estimates the tax initiative will bring in at least $5 billion a year. Last month, budget advisors to Gov. Jerry Brown estimated the proposal could be the difference between small budget surpluses or multimillion-dollar deficits two years from now.
Spurred by outrage over recent mass shootings, California lawmakers on Thursday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a sweeping package of gun control bills, including a ban on the sale of semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines, background checks for those buying ammunition and new restrictions on homemade firearms.
The flood of bills was introduced in response to the December terrorist attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 people at a holiday party, but momentum for action swelled after the June 12 mass shooting at an Orlando, Fla., nightclub that killed 49 people.
“The killer sprayed that nightclub with bullets,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said during the floor debate Thursday. “How could someone filled with so much hate have such easy access to ammunition?”
The measure from Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) has passed the Senate but now is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee awaiting action before would reach the Assembly floor. It requires a two-thirds vote to pass as well as the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown before it goes before voters.
Beall is aiming to get the measure approved by the Assembly committee prior to the Aug. 12 deadline for fiscal legislation, according to his office. Lawmakers have routinely bypassed normal election deadlines in years past to add proposals to the fall ballot late into the summer.
A bipartisan group of legislators sent Gov. Jerry Brown a $2-billion bond measure on Thursday that would provide housing for the homeless who suffer from mental illness.
The proposal, part of a plan unveiled by Senate Democrats in January, would fund new and refurbished housing in communities across California. The bonds will be repaid with proceeds from a tax on incomes above $1 million, approved by voters in 2004 to fund mental health programs.
“Republicans and Democrats alike recognize that finding permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless suffering from mental illness will improve the quality of life in our communities and give hope to thousands of Californians," said Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) in a statement.
State lawmakers on Thursday sent the governor a bill that would significantly expand a law that allows certain people to petition to the courts to confiscate guns from persons deemed to be dangerous.
Part of a large batch of gun-control measures expected to be acted on Thursday by the Legislature, the “gun violence restraining order” bill was given final legislative approval by the Senate after a debate in which supporters invoked the mass shootings in Orlando, Fla., and San Bernardino and Isla Vista.
The Isla Vista incident in 2014, in which a disturbed man killed six UC Santa Barbara students and wounded 13 others, resulted in a law that took effect in January that allows the police and family members to petition a court for a “gun violence restraining order,” removing firearms from persons they believe are dangerous for up to one year.