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Capitol Round-Up: Climate Change, Property Forfeiture, 'Redskins' Ban


Second Consecutive Setback For Climate Change Legislation

For the second straight day, California’s push to fight climate change has hit a road block at the state Capitol.

Current law calls for the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Gov. Jerry Brown and many Democrats want to set a new target 80 percent lower by 2050.

But that measure won’t move forward this year. The bill’s author, Democratic state Senator Fran Pavley, blamed the Assembly and the governor’s administration for not being supportive of her proposal.

The governor's office countered that Brown supported the measure originally but Pavley amended it in ways that could have weakened the state’s existing ability to fight climate change.

On Wednesday, the governor and legislative leaders announced they were ending their push for a 50 percent reduction in vehicle petroleum use. They’re still pushing for renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates. That bill is expected to come up for a vote Friday.

-Ben Adler/ Capital Public Radio

Legislature Approaches Final Official Day of Session

With just a day remaining in the official state Legislative session, California lawmakers continue to work though hundreds of bills.

The Senate gave final approval to a measure that would require schools to provide free, safe and clean drinking water to everyone on campus. Senators also approved two measures that would provide better monitoring and reporting on the use of psychotropic drugs given to foster children. All three measures now head to the governor.

The Assembly approved a bill that would give small businesses some time to come into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act before they can be sued. It now heads back to the Senate for a final vote.

The Assembly gave final approval to a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to report the perceived race, age and gender of each person they stop and turn the data over to the Attorney General every year. That measure next goes to the governor.

-Katie Orr/ Capital Public Radio


California Assembly Rejects Forfeiture Bill, For Now

The state Assembly has rejected – for the time being  a property forfeiture bill that encountered strong opposition from California’s law enforcement lobby.

Assembly Republican David Hadley supports the bill, SB 443. He says the bipartisan measure was intended to curb the current practice of confiscating the property of people who are never charged or convicted.

“It is a core principal of American justice that each person has his or her day in court before his or her property is taken," Hadley told his colleagues on the Assembly floor.

Opponents, including Assemblyman Luis Alejo, say changing the way law enforcement manages seized property would erode its ability to disrupt criminal networks.

"You would take away one of the most important tools to deal with those folks who are creating havoc, and who are creating murders and other violent crimes in your own district. So, don’t be fooled by the rhetoric. This is an important tool for law enforcement," Alejo said on the Assembly floor.

The bill could return for a second and final vote in the Assembly Friday.

-Chris Nichols/ Capital Public Radio


Senate Approves 'Sharing Economy' Services for State Employees

California state employees may soon have official approval to use companies like Uber and Airbnb while traveling for work. The Senate today advanced a measure that would allow employees to be reimbursed for using the services. 

Democrat Steven Glazer says the measure would save the state money.

"With Californians spending tens of millions of dollars on employee travel per year, this bill ensures that state employees can use very affordable travel options," he says.

Opponents say there is currently nothing that prevents state employees being reimbursed for using Internet based companies. They say creating a specific law would further distinguish such companies from their traditional counterparts.

The measure now returns to the Assembly for a final vote.

-Katie Orr/ Capital Public Radio


Bill To Ban 'Redskins' As School Mascot Heads to California Governor

Public schools in California would be banned from using ‘Redskins’ as a team name or mascot under a bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday.

The state Assembly voted 59 to 9 to approve a final version of the measure.

Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, said his AB 30 would restrict the use of what many consider a racial slur.

“The ‘R word’ was once used to describe Native American scalps sold for bounty at a time when our state condoned the killing of native peoples," Alejo told his colleagues on the Assembly floor. "Such terms have no business being used as a mascot in our public schools or otherwise.” 

Opponents, including Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, said decisions on school mascots and nicknames should rest with school boards, not the Legislature.

 “The folks who should have a final say in terms of a mascot should be our local elected officials. And we should show them that respect," Harper said.

Calaveras High School in the Sierra foothills is among a handful of schools in the state that use Redskins as a team name

Calaveras Unified Superintendent Mark Campbell told Capital Public Radio that the school and community would like to keep the name but understands it could soon change.

-Chris Nichols / Capital Public  Radio