Political round up

Area legislators’ bills signed into law

By Chris O'Neal 10/24/2013

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson
When second-grade teacher Carie Charlesworth was fired from her position at Holy Trinity Elementary School in El Cajon after her estranged husband was found on campus, she began advocating for a bill to protect victims of domestic violence.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, had already introduced a measure to protect the victims of domestic violence from workplace discrimination that garnered support from Charlesworth. This month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law.

The law requires employers to take reasonable measures to protect workers, such as changing office locations and promoting a safety plan, and prevents employers from firing an employee if given reasonable notice of a potential problem with a current or former partner.

Charlesworth filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego for violating canon law, claiming to have warned the school principal of potential problems with her ex-husband. Charlesworth claimed she was treated like a criminal and victimized by the school.

The director of the California Catholic Conference said that lawmakers have to take into consideration the safety of school children as well as the employee.

Only one of eight bills introduced by Sen. Jackson was vetoed by Brown, SB 567, which would have added shotguns with revolving cylinders to a list of banned assault weapons.

State Sen. Fran Pavley
On Oct 10, Brown signed Senate Bill 651, introduced by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, that puts into place protections for victims of sex crimes in state hospitals and developmental centers.

Victims suspected of having been abused will be required to undergo examinations by trained investigators to collect evidence to aid in an investigation.

Developmental centers across California reported 59 cases of alleged molestation in the last three years with none of the victims receiving a formal examination. Out of the 129 cases reported at state hospitals, only 29 were examined for evidence of sexual assault.

Disability Rights California and California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) strongly supported the measure, which Pavley called a step toward holding “both perpetrators and state caretakers accountable.”

Senate Bill 4, also authored by Pavley, sets limits on hydraulic fracking — the process by which to extract oil from hard-to-reach areas by pumping sand, chemicals and water into the ground to push oil out — in California.

The controversial bill comes at a time when fracking is a political hot button across the nation. The new law requires, through a permitting process, oil companies using the technique that divulge which chemicals are to be used. Companies will also be required to test groundwater for potential contamination and inform nearby landowners of projects.

Pavley’s 13 bills were all signed into law, including SB 145, which enacts tougher penalties against those convicted of child pornography.

The new bills go into effect in January.

Assemblyman Jeff Gorell
Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 628, co-authored by Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo. Written with Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Los Angeles, AB 628 promotes the use of long-term energy infrastructure projects to boost economic development and reduce emissions.

When Brown signed the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), which enacted a mandate to reduce emissions, California legislators scrambled to find ways of implementation that would work with existing programs.

AB 628 will require ports to build new infrastructure and modernize existing structures as well as to attract new businesses and compete on an international level.

“AB 628 will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make our California ports more competitive with other Pacific and Gulf ports, and will ultimately create California jobs,” said Gorell in a statement.

Gorell’s two measures were signed into law, including AB 209, which protects business owners from paying retroactive taxes after a court decision finding a tax-break loophole unconstitutional for small businesses.

Assemblyman Das Williams
Effective Jan 1, Assemblyman Das Williams’, D-Santa Barbara, AB 562 will require local agencies approving economic development activities to provide the name, address, number of potential jobs created, start and end dates of subsidies and a schedule for the subsidies to be made available to the public.

The bill provides long-sought-after information regarding public projects that had previously been lacking in details.

AB 955, also authored by Williams, allows six community colleges to participate in a pilot program that will provide summer and winter intersession courses at a premium rate for high-demand classes, resulting in an increase of students transferring to CSU and UC schools. Oxnard College was listed as one of the six, though college administration said such classes would not be offered.

Since 2008, course offerings have declined from 420,000 to 334,000, according to a study by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). When California voters passed Proposition 30, which gave extra funding to community colleges to provide broader course offerings, colleges still faced a lack of space for the number of students enrolling in spring and fall sessions.

A fee of upward of $200 could be assessed per unit, but could be less if partnerships are established with local businesses or foundations. Financial aid must be offered to low-income students as part of the bill.

“This lack of classes will turn away people who need these classes to develop the professional skills they need to qualify for high-paying jobs,” Williams said in a statement. “I am grateful that the governor has the vision to give this pilot program a chance.”

Williams’ nine bills were signed into law.

Local officials work together to protect Port Hueneme
Two bills signed into law by Brown appropriated $2 million to protect the Port Hueneme coastal district from ocean flooding.

AB 606, introduced by Williams and Gorell, will appropriate $1 million from the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air and Coastal Protection Bond Fund to the State Coastal Conservancy for a grant to Port Hueneme.

SB 436, introduced by Jackson, known as the Port Hueneme Beach Shoreline Protection Act, will provide the same.

Both bills required passage for either to become effective. Both bills have been declared urgency statutes, making the funds available immediately.

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