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Capitol Roundup: Gun Control, License Suspension Bills Advance

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Gun rights advocates speak in opposition to a gun control bill during Tuesday's Senate Public Safety Committee hearing at the California state Capitol.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

No Sign Of Gun Control Deal At California Capitol

The great gun control debate is raging again in the California Legislature. Lawmakers debated several different bills Tuesday, even as a separate gun control proposal moves toward the November ballot.

Many of the legislative proposals are not included in the November ballot measure, but some are – such as a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Just as the recent minimum wage deal was spurred by a ballot measure, some lawmakers hope to see a gun control deal as well. That would require support from Democratic leadership, Gov. Jerry Brown (who's vetoed several gun control bills in recent years) and the initiative’s proponent, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Democratic strategist Roger Salazar says Newsom has a lot on the line. “(Newsom is) running for governor, so he’s trying to raise his profile. This is one way in which to do that. But frankly, I think it would be in his best interest to have some sort of victory.”

A deal would need to be reached by the end of June, but the sides don’t appear to be close. Senate Leader Kevin de León’s office says the issue is “ripe for resolution inside the Legislature.” Newsom’s campaign team, on the other hand, says the measure will “absolutely” be on the November ballot.

Should Your License Be Suspended If You Don't Pay Your Traffic Fines?

California lawmakers have advanced a bill that would end the practice of suspending driver’s licenses of people who commit minor traffic violations and fail to pay fines or appear in court.

Democratic Sen. Bob Hertzberg says his proposal would reduce court-ordered debts that help trap low-income Californians in poverty.

“We’ve got this horrible, horrible situation – started in Ferguson – where hundreds of people in small, little communities (are) put in jail, because they didn’t have the money to pay for a traffic fine, and the traffic fines that are $35 ended up being thousands of dollars,” Hertzberg says.

The only opposition comes from the California Police Chiefs Association. It agrees there's a need to re-evaluate the way traffic fees are enforced but argues the bill would weaken the incentives to comply with the law.

Despite that objection, the measure has drawn bipartisan support. It cleared its second Senate committee Tuesday and now moves to a third.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio