The California Senate and Assembly passed hundreds of bills this week, before a key deadline. Legislation had to pass out of the chamber where it was introduced to remain alive this session.
Thursday, the Assembly passed a bill to expand breast cancer treatment for low-income women and an equal pay measure that would prevent employers from seeing workers’ past salary data.
Legislation that would require gas storage companies to pay for leaks and restrict drilling into groundwater aquifers advanced in the Senate.
But, bills that would have increased overtime pay for farmworkers and required doctors to tell patients if they were on probation stalled.
Opening Covered California To Immigrants Without Legal Documentation
Immigrants without legal documentation in California could soon receive insurance through the state health exchange, through a bill the Senate sent a to Governor Jerry Brown Thursday.
The measure would allow immigrants without legal status to buy a private insurance plan through Covered California, the state exchange set up through Obamacare. These immigrants can already purchase private insurance on the open market.
Under the bill, the state would not provide the subsidies for Covered California insurance that it does for legal residents under certain income thresholds.
Republican state Senator Anthony Cannella joined Democrats to provide the two-thirds majority the bill needed to pass.
“Far too often those that do not have proper health care access rely on our emergency rooms to be treated for health issues, causing the state unnecessary costs,” Cannella said.
Supporters say insurance would remain unaffordable for many, but this could help families of mixed legal status purchase plans together.
The measure did not receive any formal opposition before the floor debate. There, Republican Senator Jeff Stone argued it would increase pressure on doctors.
“It will raise cost for health care for everybody in California,” Stone said. “California has a massive primary care shortage.”
The Assembly passed the measure earlier this week.
If Governor Jerry Brown signs it, California would have to apply to the federal government to approve the change.
Yosemite, Park Names
Following the forced renaming of historic places in Yosemite National Park, the State Assembly has passed a bill designed to protect state trademarks across California.
Democratic Assemblyman Ken Cooley of the Sacramento area authored the bill.
“It will adopt a California Heritage Protection Act as a response to the renaming of the historic locales in Yosemite National Park—the Ahwahnee Hotel, Curry Village, Wawona Hotel, Badger Ski Pass,” Cooley said.
Yosemite’s former concessionaire, Delaware North, claimed it has rights to the names after it lost a $2 billion bid to renew its contract with the park.
The legislation would prohibit concessionaires from securing any interest in names associated with state parks. It faced no opposition.
The bill moves next to the state Senate.
The State Board of Education would be required to develop an ethnic studies curriculum and encourage California school districts to offer ethnic studies courses, under a bill approved by the State Assembly.
An earlier version of the bill would have required districts to offer the courses. Democratic Assemblyman Jose Medina says California’s schools lack sufficient ethnic studies.
“If all of that was included, all the history was included in the curriculum, there wouldn’t be a need,” Medina said. “But as a former U.S. history teacher, I know that there are gaps in the history that we teach in our public schools.”
Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill last year, saying a state commission was already revising history and social science curriculum.
The Assembly passed the current bill with only one ‘No’ vote. The legislation goes next to the state Senate.