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Capitol Roundup: Farm Worker Overtime, Greenhouse Gas Regulations, Teacher Tenure

  

Farm Worker Overtime Bill To Face One More Vote

A bill that would raise overtime pay for farm workers faces one last vote in the California Legislature.

The state Senate narrowly passed the measure today Monday, sending it to the Assembly for a concurrence vote.

The bill would phase in higher pay for agricultural workers, so that, by 2022, they would receive time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours a week or eight hours a day.

The agriculture industry and business groups oppose the bill, while labor unions and environmental and civil liberties groups have supported it. That’s set up a face-off between some of the state’s most powerful lobbies.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Legislation Moving Again, With A Catch

Legislation that would empower the Brown Administration to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California is moving again at the state Capitol. But it’s predicated on another bill that would give lawmakers more say in how the California Air Resources Board – or CARB – makes those cuts.

The state Senate passed that companion measure Monday.

Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara explained the bill. “It creates a legislative committee to provide greater oversight, and creates seats for legislators on the CARB board,” Lara said. “It requires CARB to consider cost-effectiveness of their policies. It also requires CARB to rank their pollution-reduction proposals based on effectiveness”

The new emissions goals wouldn’t go into effect, unless the governor also agrees to the added oversight measure. Both bills still face final votes in the Legislature.

Brown has generally guarded his executive authority, but he did agree to give lawmakers two appointments to CARB last year.

Senate Votes To Expand Mail-In Voting

California counties could hold more all-mail elections, under a bill passed by the state Senate Monday. That vote comes a week before the Legislature may consider a larger expansion of all-mail-in voting.

Under the bill, a few counties that qualify could replace polling places in each precinct with a few county-wide vote centers, and then mostly rely on mail-in ballots. This would only apply to special elections for federal or state vacancies.

Democratic Senator Bob Hertzberg said it could increase participation. “This is a situation where you have these very minimal turnouts,” Hertzberg said. “So you don’t have to worry if you’re disabled, so you can mail in your ballots. It’s much simpler for folks.”

It’s the latest “pilot project” as Democratic lawmakers consider a move to an all-mail-in ballot system. They could vote before the end of the month.

Republican Senator Jeff Stone argued for a wait-and-see approach. “There are authorized all-mail ballot pilot projects in Monterey, Sacramento, San Diego, San Mateo and Yolo Counties,” Stone Said. “It would be prudent to wait until the results of those pilot projects are done.”

This measure moves back to the Assembly for a final vote.

California Court Decision Keeps Teacher Tenure Protections

(AP) -- In a victory for teacher unions, the California Supreme Court has decided to let the state's teacher tenure law stand.

The high court said Monday it will not take up a lawsuit by a group of students who claimed that incompetent teachers were almost impossible to fire because of tenure laws and that schools in poor neighborhoods were dumping grounds for bad teachers. The decision leaves in place a lower court's court ruling that upheld tenure and other job protections for teachers.

The appeals court said in its decision in April that the students had failed to show California's hiring and firing rules were unconstitutional.

The ruling overturned a 2014 Los Angeles Superior Court judge's decision that sided with the students.

Assembly Member Consults Apple’s Siri During Bill Debate

The California Assembly had what may have been a first, during debate on a bill.

Republican Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen consulted the popular Apple voice search app, while opposing a bill that would prevent casting web sites from publishing actors’ ages.

“Siri, how old is Clint Eastwood?” Olsen asked the app, to which it responded “Clint Eastwood is 86.”

Proponents call it an anti-age discrimination measure. It passed and heads to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.

Ben Bradford

State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covers California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio