Democrats have failed to unite behind a measure in the California Senate that would have begun phasing out plastic shopping bags. The bill would have banned plastic shopping bags at larger stores by 2015. But it did not receive the required 21 votes to pass. Democratic Senator Alex Padilla authored the measure. He says only 5 percent of the billions of bags used in California get recycled.
“You know as well as I the havoc that plastic bags have wreaked in our communities,” he says. “It’s not just our beaches. It’s also our inner city parks. It’s also our state and national parks.”
But not all of his colleagues agreed with a ban. Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara says the measure would put people out of work.
“Statewide, we are going to put in jeopardy over 2,000 jobs,” he says. “We cannot afford to do that now, not when California is on the recovery.”
The Senate also passed its version of a school funding formula. Unlike Governor Jerry Brown’s plan, it does not include extra money for districts with a majority of low-income and non-English speaking students.
In the Assembly, a bill passed that limits when school students can be suspended for “willful defiance.” The infraction is just one of 24 California students can be suspended or expelled for.
Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson say students who are constantly suspended lose important instructional time.
“And (they) are five times more likely to drop out of school and 11 times more likely to enter the juvenile or criminal justice system,” he says.
Supporters note teachers are still free to remove disruptive students from the classroom.
But Republican Assemblyman Don Wagner says this takes power away from school boards.
“This bill takes us the wrong way,” he says. “We ought to be giving more deference and more discretion back to the locals.”
Wagner points out the governor vetoed a previous version of this bill for that reason.
The Assembly also passed bills that would allow child care providers to unionize, expand California’s college financial aid program and rasie the minimum wage. However, bills that would regulate medical marijuana and place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing failed.