The California State Senate has approved a pair of bills
intended to make free or inexpensive digital textbooks for popular
courses available to college students.
Only two Republicans voted against the bills, and those who spoke
during the floor debate praised the measures' approach.
Here's an exchange between GOP Senator Anthony Cannella and the
bills' author, Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg:
Cannella: "When I first saw this
bill, I envisioned state employees getting together and writing
calculus books and physics books. But that's not really what
Cannella: "-want. You want
- you're gonna go out to bid and let people - anybody, publishers
or anybody - have the opportunity to develop these
Steinberg: "That's right."
Steinberg's bills would then set up a state-run open source
digital library to house the E-books.
The textbook industry says it's concerned about state government
funding digital textbooks - and potentially dictating to faculty
that they must use those materials.
The measures next move to the California Assembly.
-- Ben Adler
Assembly Passes Family Medical Leave
A bill that would expand California's family and medical leave
law passed the Assembly on a party line vote.
Current law allows an employee unpaid leave to care for
parents, children and spouses with a serious health
This measure would expand that to include domestic partners,
independent adult children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren
or parents in-law.
Democratic Assemblyman Sandré Swanson says eight other states
use a more expansive definition of family member.
Swanson: "When the life of a
worker's family member is in jeopardy and there is no one else to
care for that seriously ill person, the worker should have the
right to sacrifice their pay in order to care for a relative
without losing his or her job."
Republicans called the bill well-intentioned but a burdensome
mandate for businesses. They say small businesses can't afford the
requirement. The California Chamber of Commerce has put the measure
on its job-killer list.
The bill now moves to the Senate.
-- Amy Quinton
Assembly Passes Middle Class
A bill to help middle class families pay for California
colleges and universities has passed the Assembly by a two-thirds
The measure is authored by Assembly
Speaker John Perez.
It would cuts fees for families who
make fewer than $150,000 a year but make too much to qualify for
state financial aid.
students would save $4,000 a year and UC students would save $8,200
Three Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the
bill. Others voted no. GOP Assemblyman Donald Wagner says the
program ultimately won't help because the university systems will
likely raise fees.
"They can raise the cost of going to school, they can suck up this
money that we are suddenly going to make available because that's
the way the market works."
The program would take effect only
if a companion measure is approved.
That bill would pay for the scholarships
by ending a controversial tax exemption for out-of-state
It's expected to face a much tougher path in
the legislature and will be up for a vote later this
-- Amy Quinton
Gay-to-Straight Psychotherapy Ban Passes
A form of psychotherapy intended to turn gay children straight
would be banned in California under a bill that passed the State
Senate Wednesday. California would be the first state to pass
such a ban.
Democratic Senator Ted Lieu wrote the bill and calls that kind
of treatment "junk science." During the floor debate, Lieu
told the story of Ryan Kendall, who participated in that
Lieu: "(He) was told that he had
to "butch up;" was told that being gay "made god cry;" was told
that he had to go and play sports; and he testified that
for 10 years of his life, he wanted to commit suicide. He has
not done that and now he is speaking out against this kind of
Republicans voted against the bill but did not speak during
debate. Two Democrats supported the measure for now,
but raised concerns from trade associations that the bill is overly
broad and would micromanage the work of individual
The measure passed 23-to-13 and now moves to the State