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Capitol Roundup: New Sentencing Ballot Measure, State Help For Food Industry

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A Sacramento food truck worker takes an order

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Voters To Weigh Reducing Some Felonies To Misdemeanors

An initiative that would convert some low-level theft and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors has qualified for California’s November ballot. It’s the sixth measure to go before voters this fall.

The initiative would reduce sentences for some low-level drug possession, petty theft and check forging crimes by classifying them as misdemeanors instead of felonies. There would be exceptions for registered sex offenders and people previously convicted of rape, murder or child molestation. The projected hundreds of millions of dollars in savings would go toward mental health and drug treatment programs, schools and crime victims.

The measure made the November ballot on the final day allowed by law – though the state Legislature can, and often does, change the rules for its own ballot measures. For example, lawmakers are still weighing whether to swap the $11 billion water bond currently on the ballot with an alternate one.

Whatever happens, it’s clear Californians will see fewer measures this fall than the 11 they voted on in November 2012.

State Help For Restaurants, Bars, Food Trucks On The Way

The California legislature has sent Governor Jerry Brown a bill that would reverse a new law requiring the use of gloves instead of bare hands on ready-to-eat food and drinks at restaurants and bars.

Democratic Assemblyman Richard Pan carried the measure last year that enacted the requirement. He says no opposition emerged at the time, but now, restaurants and bars have convinced him to reverse the law before it takes effect next week.

“We recognized that the mandate would actually create an increased burden on our local restaurants and bartenders without actually an increase in food safety,” Pan says.

Meanwhile, the fast-growing food truck industry is also getting a boost from state government. The Board of Equalization is changing a regulation that requires sales tax to be added separately to all purchases.

Starting July 1st, food trucks can include the sales tax in their purchase prices.

The rule change will allow flat-rate pricing – so, for example, a $5 burrito will actually cost $5, not $5 plus tax.

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