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Capitol Roundup: Lane Splitting, Carbon Emissions, Charter Schools, Water Use


California Officially Legalizes Lane-Spliting 

California will be the only state where motorcycles can officially go between lanes to pass stopped cars.

Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that allows CHP to develop guidelines for lane-splitting.

Until now, state law hasn’t addressed the maneuver one way or the other, but law enforcement has tacitly allowed it.

An earlier version of the bill specifically allowed lane-splitting up to 15 miles per hour faster than surrounding cars, but at a top speed of no more than 50 miles per hour. The final version leaves those details to state agencies to determine.

Carbon Emissions Legislation Moving Again In State Legislature

An effort to extend and expand limits on carbon emissions in California is moving again in the state Legislature, although without a provision desired by Governor Jerry Brown.

The state Assembly amended SB 32 Friday, a week after the governor and lawmakers signaled the bill had stalled.

The amended bill would still set a goal for statewide emissions to fall 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. But it does not extend the state’s cap-and-trade program, as Brown had wanted. Without legislation, the program could expire in 2020.

Democrat Hernandez Won't Campaign For Congressional Seat

(AP) - A California lawmaker says he'll stop actively campaigning for a congressional seat in the November election, after domestic violence allegations.

In an interview with reporters, Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernandez stopped short of dropping out of the race for the 32nd congressional district.

Hernandez made a surprise return to the Assembly today. He's been absent for three weeks for what he said were health reasons related to high blood pressure.

The absence came after a judge called allegations Hernandez physically abused his ex-wife credible, and issued a restraining order. Hernandez denies the allegations.

Bill Passed Would Require Charter Schools To Hold Public Meetings

A bill passed by the California Senate would require charter schools to hold public meetings, avoid conflicts-of-interest with contractors and release records under California’s open records law.

Democratic Senator Mark Leno said charters shouldn’t be exempted from transparency rules.

"I think we can all agree we want our public school system to be the very best it can be," says Leno. "Both our traditional and our charter schools, they should play by the same rules. They’re both funded by public dollars."

Republican Jeff Stone suggested the bill’s supporters, which include labor unions and public schools, have an ulterior motive.

"Should the public records act apply to charter schools? Absolutely. The real issue here is the constant attack on charter schools," says Stone.

Stone also says, unlike public schools, charters can’t recoup costs for complying with the open government laws.

The measure narrowly passed and moves back to the Assembly for a final vote.

Water Use Bill Failed

Another public records measure, a favorite of environmental groups, which would have required businesses and factories to disclose their water use failed in the Senate.

Stone was one of a majority of Senators who opposed the bill.

"Giving this information to the public serves no purpose other than to shame a company that happens to use a large quantity of water," says Stone.

Water agencies, farmers and manufacturers opposed the measure.

It would have made industrial, commercial and institutional water use subject to the state public records act, meaning anyone could request that data.