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Capitol Round-Up: Plastic Bag Ban, Cell Phone 'Kill Switch, And Sexual Assault Policies


Mail-In Ballot And Sexual Assault Policy Bills Approved In Assembly

The California legislature took action on bills Monday ranging from vote-by-mail elections to sexual assault policies.

The Assembly approved a bill that would allow mail-in ballots to be counted if they’re postmarked by Election Day.

The chamber also passed a bill requiring public colleges and universities to adopt “victim-centered” policies on sexual assault. Among other things, the measure would require partners to give affirmative consent before any sexual activity.

Republican Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen opposed the bill, saying it attempts to bring the government into the bedroom.

“This bill goes so far past what is acceptable for the government to regulate. To make matters worse, there is simply no good way to enforce many provisions of the bill.” 

The Senate approved a measure was approved that allows spouses of active duty military members to receive temporary professional licenses while living in the state.

Governor Jerry Brown also signed several pieces of legislation. Among them was a bill that requires new smart phones sold in California to have a “kill switch” which would allow the phone to be deactivated if it is stolen.

 - Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

Student Information And Voter Pre-Registration Bills Passes Assembly

The Assembly approved a measure that would prohibit companies from selling the personal information of students for profit. It’s directed at companies that provide online services meant to help teachers in the classroom.

The Assembly also passed a bill that would allow 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote. Democrat Kevin Mullin says the earlier people are introduced to voting, the more likely they are to become life-long voters.

“When incorporated into high school civics classes, pre-registration provides an opportunity to engage a diverse group of young people, assisting them in taking concrete steps toward becoming future voters.” 

The Senate passed a bill that would require the state to start tracking school absences and truancies.

Governor Jerry Brown signed several pieces of legislation, including a bill that asks the State Board of Education to include the significance of President Barack Obama’s election in the state’s history and social science standards.

- Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

Plastic Bag Ban Fails On First Try In Assembly

Round One in the California Legislature’s epic battle over a statewide plastic bag ban has gone to the bill’s opponents. The California Assembly rejected an effort to ban single-use plastic bags throughout the state after an hour-long debate.

Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta argued that the more than a hundred local ordinances have proven that plastic bag bans are good policy.

"We have seen the positive impacts in jurisdictions throughout the state of similar ordinances, and we’ve seen the behavior change in the way that this bill seeks to have it changed to protect our environment.” 

But Republican Assemblyman Scott Wilk criticized the bill’s provision that would require grocers and retailers to charge at least 10 cents per paper bag.

“The fact of the matter is, the science doesn’t back it, and this is just a backdoor tax to hurt those that need our help the most.” 

The measure failed 37-33, four votes shy of a majority. It can be brought back for one more try later this week.

- Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

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