- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The latest developments in the California Legislature, which is considering hundreds of bills ahead of a Friday deadline for passage (all times local):

6:59 p.m.

The California Legislature is proposing new rules for recounts in disputed statewide elections.

The Assembly voted 67-4 on Wednesday to send AB44 by Democratic Assemblyman Kevin Mullin of South San Francisco to the governor’s desk.

The bill would allow the governor to order a state-funded recount of any statewide ballot measure or elected office in which the margin of victory is extremely small. The new count would have to be done entirely by hand.

The Assembly also voted 48-21 to pass SB365 by Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills, allowing counties to establish sites at libraries and other public locations where voters can drop off their mail-in ballots.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for a final vote.


6:46 p.m.

Law enforcement agencies would have to get warrants before searching private electronic communications under a bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The measure generally would require that law enforcement get a judge’s approval before searching emails, text messages and geographic location information stored on the Internet and on smartphones, tablets, laptops and other digital devices.

Democratic Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco says law enforcement agencies currently need warrants to search mail boxes, but not email.

Senators approved SB178 Wednesday on a 32-4 vote after amendments were added giving law enforcement more flexibility in certain investigations, including for child pornography.

Several Republicans joined some law enforcement organizations in saying the exemptions don’t go far enough.

Five states already protect digital communications and nine states protect individuals’ location information.


6:27 p.m.

Cities and counties would be barred from banning synthetic grass, artificial turf or drought-tolerant landscaping on residential property under a bill moving through the Legislature.

Democratic Sen. Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton says AB1164 will help with water conservation even after California’s ongoing drought eventually abates.

The Senate approved the bill Wednesday on a 38-1 vote. It goes back to the Assembly for a final vote.

Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this month signed into law AB349 by Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego. That measure prohibits homeowner associations from fining residents who install artificial turf.


6:12 p.m.

A bill that would require public agencies that collect demographic data to update their forms so multiracial Californians can adequately report their ancestry is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown.

AB532 by Democratic Assemblyman Kevin McCarty of Sacramento gained final approval on Wednesday with a 74-0 vote in the Assembly.

The legislation would give state agencies and their contractors until January 2022 to revise forms to give respondents the option of checking more than one race or ethnicity on applications, surveys and other documents.

McCarty says he counts himself among what he said were millions of Californians who would have listed more than one race or ethnicity on their college applications, if they’d had the chance.


5:55 p.m.

California senators split along party lines after a divisive debate over legislation to allow health clinics that provide abortions or birthing services to apply for waivers from mandatory hospital transfer agreements.

Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez’s bill, AB1177, is sponsored by Planned Parenthood. He says such clinics are the only ones not allowed to obtain waivers, restricting access for women in areas without hospitals.

Republicans in the Senate argued Wednesday that the agreements protect women’s health in case of emergency. But, Sen. Joel Anderson of Alpine says his opinion doesn’t seem to count because he doesn’t have a uterus.

Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat, says politicians are fixated on poor women and “our desire to protect women from themselves.” The bill passed, 26-13, and returns to the Assembly.


4:50 p.m.

California lawmakers are pushing to make it easier for the poor to get their day in court.

The state Assembly on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that allows people to schedule a court appearance even if they haven’t paid fines and traffic penalties.

SB405 by Democratic Sen. Bob Hertzberg of Los Angeles would require courts to schedule proceedings regardless of a person’s ability to pay.

The bill comes after Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers approved an amnesty program in the budget for residents who can’t afford to pay off court fines and traffic penalties. The problem has resulted in 4.8 million driver’s license suspensions since 2006.

The bill provides a 20-day grace period after a person is notified in writing. It goes back to the Senate for a final vote.


4:41 p.m.

Pedestrians and bicyclists would continue to be able to cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge for free under a bill the California Legislature is sending to Gov. Jerry Brown.

AB40 by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco prohibits transportation agencies from charging sidewalk tolls on five state-owned bridges in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ting says he introduced the measure to block Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District from introducing sidewalk fees to help close a budget deficit.

Four bridges in the U.S. charge pedestrians 50-cents to cross. All are at border crossings with Mexico and Canada.

Ting says the Golden Gate Bridge would be the first solely domestic span with a sidewalk toll.

His measure passed the Assembly with a 58-13 vote on Wednesday.


2:51 p.m.

Labor unions and the associations representing California’s police chiefs and city governments are urging the state Legislature to pass comprehensive medical marijuana regulations before this week’s deadline.

Two bills in the Senate and Assembly have been advancing all session. They would create the first statewide regulations for medical marijuana growers, pot-product manufacturers and distributors.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s office also has gotten involved in crafting a compromise, but a final agreement still has not surfaced. Lawmakers face a Friday deadline to approve legislation this year.

The League of California Cities, the California Police Chiefs Association and major unions sent a letter Wednesday to Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins of San Diego expressing concern over the Legislature’s inability to reach a deal.


2:34 p.m.

Lawmakers are advancing a bill to change the state’s definition of “racial profiling” and require local law enforcement agencies to collect demographic data including the race of those they stop.

Democratic state Sen. Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles says the data collected by the state attorney general’s office would show people of color are stopped more frequently by police, despite law enforcement efforts to avoid bias.

Mitchell says the $8 million annual cost would help avoid costly financial settlements when people are killed unlawfully by police.

Republicans who opposed the measure say it requires onerous reporting that may be unnecessary as police begin using body cameras.

Wednesday’s 26-13 Senate vote on AB953 came days after hundreds gathered outside Gov. Jerry Brown’s office to support it. It returns to the Assembly.


12:45 p.m.

State senators have unanimously advanced a bill to increase and update conflict of interest reporting requirements for government officials.

AB10 revises the dollar thresholds for reporting financial holdings on annual statements of economic interest for just the second time since 1974. It requires officials to provide more detailed descriptions of their businesses and the names of any partners. And it requires them to disclose each time a financial interest forces them to recuse themselves from a governmental decision.

Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens says the bill approved Wednesday will ensure that public officials are more transparent in their business, investment and income disclosures.

The bill returns to the Assembly for final action.

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