- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The Latest on California lawmakers’ action on tobacco use and other laws (all times local):

12 p.m.

The California Assembly has adjourned a health care special session called by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The decision to end the session came after the Assembly voted Thursday to approve a variety of bills aimed at restricting access to tobacco.

The Senate could follow suit as soon as next week, clearing the way for California’s physician-assisted death law to take effect.

Brown called the special session last year so lawmakers could restructure taxes on health insurance plans to help pay for Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance plan for the poor.

The assisted-death law remained in limbo during months of negotiations over the tax measure.


11:50 a.m.

The California Assembly has approved raising the smoking age from 18 to 21, regulating electronic cigarettes and making other efforts to restrict access to tobacco.

The decision Thursday advances a package of tobacco legislation that cleared the Senate last year but stalled for months in the Assembly.

Democrats who promoted the bills say they’ll save lives and make it harder for your people to access addictive tobacco products.

Republicans say the government should not tell adults what to do.

On top of raising the smoking age and regulating e-cigarettes, the bills would impose new restrictions on workplace smoking, allow counties to raise tobacco taxes and expand tobacco bans to more schools.

The bills return to the Senate to approve changes made in the Assembly.


11:40 a.m.

California lawmakers have passed a plan to increase the amount of pay workers can receive during family leave.

Democrats in the Assembly voted Thursday to send AB908 to Gov. Jerry Brown. Republicans declined to vote on the bill.

Democratic Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez of Los Angeles wrote the bill after a state review found that low-income workers are the least likely to use the benefit.

Californians can currently take up to six weeks off work every year to care for their family or bond with a new child and receive 55 percent of their wages.

The measure would increase that amount to 60 percent, with low-income workers collecting up to 70 percent of their wages during leave.

A 70 percent wage benefit during paid family leave would be the nation’s highest.


10:50 a.m.

The California Assembly has voted to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21.

The 46-26 vote on Thursday advances the first piece of a package of tobacco-related legislation scheduled for discussion. It would make California among the first states to raise the smoking age.

The Senate approved the bill last year but it stalled for months in the Assembly.

Proponents say the bill would save lives and prevent 18-year-olds from buying tobacco for their high-school-age friends.

Critics say the bill infringes on individual freedoms and the government shouldn’t tell adults what to do.

The bill returns to the Senate, which must agree to changes made in the Assembly that allow members of the military to continue buying cigarettes if they’re at least 18.

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