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Capitol Roundup: Brown Signs Transgender School Bill

CPR file photo/Andrew Nixon

Asm. Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco)

CPR file photo/Andrew Nixon

Transgender students in California public schools will be able to participate in extracurricular activities and use facilities based on their gender identity under a bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown Monday.

The law will let transgender students choose whether to play boys sports or girls sports – and use boys or girls bathrooms and locker rooms – based on how they identify themselves, not their physical characteristics

“This is truly about kids and it is about family values.  And we have proof in many districts that this can occur without mayhem or violence,” says Asm. Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who wrote the bill.

Critics are already preparing a legal challenge.  Brad Dacus with the Pacific Justice Institute posted a YouTube video promising to defend anyone “victimized” by the new law.  “That includes someone whose privacy rights are violated in the bathroom, in the locker room, in the showers – or someone who is prevented from playing on a sports team because someone from the opposite gender took their place,” Dacus says.

The LGBT community and civil rights groups are praising the governor’s signature.

Several Republican lawmakers have tweeted their frustration, including Asm. Melissa Melendez, who wrote “Say goodbye to your daughters’ innocence and privacy.”  A legal group says it’s seeking plaintiffs to challenge the new law in court.

The measure takes effect January 1st.

GOP Lawmaker Urges Brown to Call Special Session on Prisons

A Republican lawmaker is asking California Governor Jerry Brown to call a special legislative session to deal with the state’s overcrowded prison system.

State Senator Jim Nielsen says the special session is necessary so the state can meet a federal court order to reduce its prison population by nearly 10-thousand inmates by the end of the year.

“This is a very serious issue, and I would argue, the most important issue that the California state legislature has to deal with now, because justice and the safety of we and our families are at stake in this,” Nielsen told lawmakers on the Senate floor Monday.

Nielsen has been one of most vocal critics of the governor’s “realignment” program.  He’s argued that shifting responsibility for low-level offenders from the state to counties has forced counties to release dangerous criminals who often commit new crimes.

In response, the governor’s office says it continues to work closely with legislative leaders as it considers its options to comply with the court order.  The administration has said it’s looking at moving inmates to private and out-of-state facilities to temporarily increase capacity.

July Revenues Fall Short of Calif. Budget Projections

California revenues are off to a slow start in the new budget year.

The state controller’s office says they came in six percent below projections for the month of July.  Disappointing personal income tax proceeds offset slight gains in sales and corporate tax revenues.

Governor Jerry Brown convinced lawmakers to use his more conservative projections in this year’s budget.  Democratic leaders had pushed for more optimistic estimates.

July is considered a slow month for revenues in general, and not necessarily indicative of the state’s overall financial health.  But if revenues continue to fall short of projections, the state could find itself with a new deficit after finally erasing its budget gap this year.

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