The California legislature has passed a bill that would require a court order before government agencies could demand cell phone service be shut off. Democratic Senator Alex Padilla said the bill stems from an incident two years ago with San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit system.
“BART officially unilaterally chose to shut down cell phone service to riders,” he said.
In 2011 BART ordered cell service shut off in several stations in anticipation of planned protests. The move was criticized by some as a violation of free speech.
Padilla said, in the case of extreme emergencies, agencies could get a court order after the fact.
Governor Jerry Brown vetoed similar legislation last year. But Padilla said this year’s version has the support of law enforcement. It now heads to Brown’s desk.
California lawmakers have also approved a bill that would allow state workers to retain their jobs after being absent without leave for up to five days – if they then bring in a doctor’s note. The measure squeaked through its final Assembly vote Friday after initially falling two votes short.
Republican Tim Donnelly argued taxpayers wouldn’t let lawmakers go AWOL. “That is the right of the people, to demand that those who work for them show up. So I think we should hold every worker in the state of California who works for the state in any way to the exact same standard,” Donnelly said.
But Democrat Cheryl Brown said her bill would allow for an improperly-terminated employee to be reinstated. “This is with a medical excuse. It doesn’t say that you just are absent, absent, absent. This is with a medical excuse. So it really helps our employees,” Brown said.
Meanwhile, the Assembly also passed another labor-backed bill that would extend the same confidentiality given to lawyers and their clients to union members and their union representatives.
A measure that has drawn passionate debate and generated fierce lobbying also made it out the legislature and is on its way to the governor. SB 131 will allow some sexual abuse vicitms to file lawsuits against private entities, like churches, that allegedly shielded abusers.
In a move to exert some control over charter cities, the legislature passed SB 7. It would require charter cities to pay prevailing wages on building projects receiving state funds. It now moves to the governor’s desk. But the bill was not without its critics. Republican Senator Joel Anderson says the bill removes local control.
“If a community votes to have the option to pursue their own interest, we should support that," he said.
The governor will also see AB 976, a measure that would authorize the California Coastal Commission to levy fines against people who block public access to, or pollute, public beaches.
In the Assembly, a bill to establish a youth offender parole hearing for people convicted of serious crimes while under age passed. It now goes to the Senate for concurrence.
A measure that would designate the burial site of the late farm labor leader Cesar Chavez as a state historic landmark cleared the Assembly. It now awaits action from the Governor.
While the bills kept coming in, Brown was busy sending a few out as well. He signed 55 bills today. Among them is one that bans the sale of animals at swap meets and flea markets. Another requires non-lethal methods to be used to capture and move mountain lions, unless the animals are deemed an immediate threat to public safety.