The California Legislature considered dozens more potential laws Thursday, in a rush to finish before the end of the month.
Capitol Roundup: Child Prostitution Charges, Tampon Tax And Bathrooms
Assembly: Child Prostitution And Rape Charges
The California Assembly has narrowly voted to decriminalize child prostitution after a half-hour of emotional debate.
The bill would still allow law enforcement to detain underage prostitutes under limited circumstances to protect a minor’s health or safety.
Democrat Mark Stone argued that this is the only way to break the cycle of prostitution and human trafficking of minors.
“All we’re doing, if we perpetuate current law, is saying you are not a victim--you’re a criminal,” Stone said.
“But if you take the tools away that are available to law enforcement now to get these girls out of this situation, you are not helping them--you are hurting them," Republican Melissa Melendez said.
The measure originally fell nine votes short in the Assembly Thursday, but eked through hours later by a single vote. It now returns to the Senate for final approval.
The Assembly also voted to eliminate the state's 10-year time limit to bring rape and child molestation charges, after the statute of limitations barred several women from bringing cases against actor Bill Cosby.
Senate: CPR, Tampons And Bathrooms
Tampons and other menstrual products would no longer be subject to the sales tax in California under a bill advancing through the state Legislature.
Before the vote in the state Senate Thursday, Democratic Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson called it an unfair charge on women.
"Every month for about 40 years of our lives, give or take, we are taxed for our biology. For being born a woman. And this is a gender injustice," said Jackson.
The state typically exempts “necessities” from the sales tax. Wednesday, the Senate voted to exempt diapers.
The Assembly has one more vote to send the measure to Governor Jerry Brown. If he signs it, the bill would go into effect in January and sunset in five years.
The Senate also voted to make CPR training mandatory in most high schools.
"It is a commonsense measure that would put more life-savers in the community, year after year," said Democratic Senator Jerry Hill.
High schools that require a health class for graduation would have to teach hands-only CPR.
The bill does not provide more funding for schools, although state analysts estimate it could cost districts and charter schools around the state millions of dollars to implement.
The measure moves back to the state Assembly for a final vote.
Another bill passed by the state Senate requires businesses to make single-occupancy bathrooms available to all genders. The law would go into effect next March and also apply to government and public buildings.