By Doug Porter
Governor Jerry Brown’s been busy over the last few days, signing off on a variety of measures passed by the Legislature during its last session.
Legislation concerning sexual consent, subcontractor standards, the initiative process, degrees at community colleges and legal assistance for immigrant minors were all approved.
Today we’ll take a look at some of those new laws. The Governor vetoed additional funding for California colleges, along with a group of bills aiming to promote transparency in governance and provide greater disclosure in political campaigns.
Approved: “Yes Means Yes”
Senate Bill 967 makes California the first state to explicitly define when “yes means yes” and adopt requirements for colleges to follow when investigating sexual assault reports. All California post-secondary schools, public and private, receiving state money for student financial aid are covered.
From the Associated Press, via the Mercury News:
Advocates for victims of sexual assault supported the change as one that will provide consistency across campuses and challenge the notion that victims must have resisted assault to have valid complaints.
“This is amazing,” said Savannah Badalich, a student at UCLA, where classes begin this week, and the founder of the group 7000 in Solidarity. “It’s going to educate an entire new generation of students on what consent is and what consent is not … that the absence of a no is not a yes.”
The bill requires training for faculty reviewing complaints so that victims are not asked inappropriate questions when filing complaints. The bill also requires access to counseling, health care services and other resources.
Approved: Holding Contractors Accountable
The Governor’s signature on Assembly Bill 1897 means corporations are jointly liable with subcontractors and staffing agencies violate wage, workplace safety or workers’ compensation rules.
From the Sacramento Bee:
The legislation was a priority of organized labor,and it was one of only two bills given the California Chamber of Commerce’s “job killer” label to make it to Brown’s desk this year.
“California workers received a much-needed measure of protection tonight with Gov. Brown’s signature on a landmark bill to curtail abuses of subcontracted workers,” Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, said in a prepared statement.
He said the legislation “is a historic new law that holds corporations accountable when workers hired using labor contractors are cheated out of wages or forced to work in unsafe conditions. By holding corporations jointly liable with subcontractors and staffing agencies, the governor closed a loophole in the law that many big companies were using to violate the basic rights of workers with impunity.”
Approved: Modernizing the Initiative Process
Senate Bill 1253 makes changes to the initiative process, lengthening the period required to collect signatures from 150 to 180 days, allowing for a 30-day public review period at the beginning of the initiative process when proponents can amend their initiative in response to public input and requiring legislative committees to hold hearings once 25% of the signatures gathered to place a measure on the ballot are collected. It also mandates that the Secretary of State’s office post and regularly update the top 10 donors of the committees in support and opposition of an initiative on the Internet.
SB 1253 was supported by the League of Women Voters, the Think Long Committee and Common Cause.
From the Sierra Sun-Times:
“Common Cause is pleased to stand with Governor Brown and a broad coalition of organizations to support SB 1253. SB 1253 will give voters the chance to see what initiatives are about early in the process, address flaws if there are problems with the language, and get easy access to information about who is backing the initiatives. SB 1253 modernizes the initiative process to put voters back in driver’s seat,” said California Common Cause executive director Kathay Feng.
The legislation does not address the issues surrounding paid canvassers used to collect signatures. As we know all too well in San Diego, these hired guns have been known to mislead voters in their quest to get paid.
Approved: Community Colleges Can Grant Degrees
Senate Bill 580 will permit up to 15 community colleges in California to initiate bachelor’s degrees programs in vocational fields.
From the Sacramento Bee:
While 21 other states offer community college baccalaureates, California’s colleges have traditionally been the domain of transfer students and career technical education, granting two-year associate degrees, as established more than fifty years ago in the Master Plan for Higher Education. Senate Bill 850 will allow colleges to experiment with four-year degrees. The pilot program is set to begin no later than the 2017-18 academic year and end in 2024.
In recent years, advocates have argued that growing industry demand for more educated workers in fields such as dental hygiene and automotive technology could be met by expanding existing programs at community colleges.
Approved: Legal Aid for Undocumented Minors
Senate Bill 873 provides $3 million in funding to non-profit organizations for legal services to the unaccompanied minors arriving in California from Central America.
In addition to funding, the legislation also proposes clarifying rules as to the jurisdiction of state courts in these cases. State courts can make decisions regarding child custody and other issues pertaining to children’s immigration cases, for example, when children are applying to stay in the country legally under what’s known as Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, which applies to minors who have been abused or neglected by their parent
Duncan’s Ignorance on Display at 50th District Debate
Republican Congressman Duncan D Hunter represents much of San Diego county. The fact that he’s being challenged by Democrat James Kimber barely makes the local radar, given that the district is solidly Republican.
Local politicos also tell me that many voters don’t even realize Duncan L. is the son of Duncan D. Hunter, replacing his father back in 2008.
On Friday night Hunter debated Kimber at Cuyamaca College before a crowd of 200 people. The KPBS story on the event indicates the candidates were cordial to each other, even as their partisans in the audience provided some fireworks.
Two things stood out for me.
Hunter’s declaration that climate change isn’t being caused by humans.
“We live in a relatively cool time on earth right now, if you look back millions of years,” Hunter said. “The temperatures on earth before there were humans have both been much higher and much lower than they are now. So the main question is, is there human-caused climate change? That, I do not buy.”
And then there was his abysmal ignorance about nuclear waste. After telling the audience “If you want to go green, you go nuclear,” Hunter responded to a question from Kimber about where the waste from nuclear plants should go.
“The waste is in Yucca Valley, and that’s where it ought to be put,” Hunter said. (Hunter may have misspoken when he said Yucca Valley. The U.S government has studied putting a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, about 100 miles north of Las Vegas. That proposal, however, has all but been abandoned.)
It’s not that this Hunter guy is right wing; he’s just not too bright, to put it mildly. Here’s a video of the entire debate:
Daily Fishwrap: Ooops, We Did It. (Again)
UT-San Diego apologized over the weekend for failing to mention last week’s People’s Climate March in San Diego, which drew over 1000 people and several prominent local politicians as speakers.
Local organizers sent press releases about the event. The paper ran an Associated Press story the day after the march saying the organizers’ predicted 100,000 people showed up for the New York event. Five other newspapers actually covered the Climate March, noting that the number of participants was more like 300,000 or higher.
The daily paper in San Diego has a long history (going back to the Copley era) of not covering protests. Here’s the current excuse, from the UT Reader’s Rep:
Despite the releases, the only information the paper’s weekend editor received was short item culled from a list of weekend events readers post in a calendar on the U-T’s website. He noticed the rally but had no details on which to judge its significance or size. He decided not to cover it.
If others who had a more complete picture of the event had called attention to it, views and information would have been shared, and a reporter and photographer probably would have been sent to the event. The lesson to take from this is no matter what one’s beat, all in the newsroom have a responsibility to wave a flag over a story.
I can guarantee if Jerry Sanders had issued a statement denouncing the march as a “job killer” it would have been covered. On the front page, most likely.
Lorena Gonzalez Learns the Local Lingo Back East
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez was back east this weekend, campaigning in Massachusetts for “Question Number 4,” a ballot measure for earned sick leave. If the voters approve, (and it looks like they will) the Bay State will become the third state after Connecticutt and California to have such a law.
Gonzalez sponsored and was the driving force behind getting California’s earned sick leave legislation passed. So I’m guessing the folks back east were hoping she’d lend her mojo to their effort. And it certainly didn’t hurt Gonzalez to collect a few political IOU’s along the way.
In any case, she did learn one very important lesson:
“MASSACHUSANNS?” Says Cali assemblyman Lorena González. “Bay Staters!” Sen. Markey replies.
— Lorena Gonzalez (@LorenaSGonzalez) September 27, 2014
On This Day: 1951 – The first network football game was televised by CBS-TV in color. The game was between the University of California and the University of Pennsylvania. 1962 – President John F. Kennedy nationalized the Mississippi National guard in response to city officials defying federal court orders. The orders had been to enroll James Meredith at the University of Mississippi. 1989 – Bruce Springsteen stopped in a small salon in Prescott, AZ, and played a few songs with the band. He overheard a woman talking about financial problems concerning her medical bills. A week later she received a check for $100,000 from Springsteen.
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