- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California state senators on Monday advanced a scaled-down version of a political ethics bill after the initial proposal was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who said it would complicate campaign disclosure rather than reduce influence.

The Senate passed the bill, SB21 by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, on a 36-1 vote. Hill’s modified proposal requires nonprofit organizations that pay for elected officials’ travel to disclose the names of donors funding that travel. It advances to the Assembly.

The new bill requiring disclosure of travel gifts to elected officials is much less restrictive than Hill’s initial bill, SB831, which the Democratic governor vetoed last session.

Hill initially sought to ban elected officials from requesting payments on their behalf from nonprofit organizations run by family members. It also would have placed restrictions on lawmakers trying to spend campaign contributions on personal perks, such as vacations, utility payments and gifts for family members.

The measure was drafted in response to corruption charges against former state lawmakers. Agents say supporters lavished gifts and dinners on Democratic Sens. Leland Yee of San Francisco and Ron Calderon of Montebello to curry favor.

Federal officials accuse Calderon of directing an undercover agent to donate $25,000 to a nonprofit run by his brother, former lawmaker Tom Calderon, who also is facing charges.

Brown said in his veto message that SB831 would have complicated the state’s existing campaign finance law, which already imposes a gift limit adjusted for inflation.

“Politicians should be subject to various constraints,” Brown wrote. “I would point out, however, that some balance and common sense is required.”

Lawmakers are considering hundreds of pieces of legislation this week ahead of a Friday deadline for bills to move out of their original house.

Senators on Monday also approved another increase to the state minimum wage, raising it to $13 an hour starting in 2017, then tying it to the rate of inflation after that. SB3 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, comes just two years after Brown signed legislation giving California one of the highest minimum wage rates in the nation. It is currently $9 an hour and will rise to $10 an hour in 2016.

Leno said his bill would bring those working in minimum wage jobs to the federal poverty level.

The California Chamber of Commerce has labeled it as a “job killer” and Republicans opposed it Monday when it advanced to the Assembly on a 23-15 vote. Brown has not said whether he would approve another increase.

The legislation is part of an effort this year by legislative Democrats to help the poor.

The Senate on Monday also approved SB588 by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, which would make it easier for the state labor commissioner to collect unpaid wages on behalf of workers by filing a lien on an employer’s property. The bill passed the Senate 24-12.

Other legislation approved Monday includes:

-SB674 by de Leon and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, to help immigrant victims of crime avoid detention and deportation by applying for U-Visas. It passed unanimously, 35-0.

-SB695 by de Leon and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to bring sexual assault training to California high schools following last year’s “Yes means Yes” affirmative consent standard for colleges receiving public funds. It passed the Senate 36-0.

-SB574 by Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, to require the University of California to release performance information on two of its largest venture capital investments, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and Sequoia Capital. The bill passed the Senate 34-0.

-SB48 by Hill to dilute powers wielded by the president of the state’s top utility regulator in response to what the lawmaker calls management failures by the Public Utilities Commission. It passed the Senate 35-0.

-AB718 by Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, to prohibit local governments from punishing homeless and other residents for sleeping in their cars. It passed on a 54-to-12 vote.

-AB949 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, to officially classify competitive cheerleading as a high school sport. It passed on a 71-to-3 vote.

-AB288 by Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, to expand programs allowing high school students to take community college classes for credit. It passed on a 75-to-0 vote.

-AB428 and AB1440 by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Los Angeles, to expand a tax credit and a grant program to retrofit homes and buildings to withstand earthquakes. Both passed unanimously.

___

Associated Press writer Fenit Nirappil also contributed to this report.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide