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Capitol Roundup: New Climate Change Legislation Approved, Several Bills Go To Governor’s Desk


Lawmakers Approve New Emissions Targets

The California Legislature has passed a new, more ambitious goal to reduce climate change-causing emissions in the state.

The legislation, which Governor Jerry Brown says he will sign, would allow state regulators to tighten emissions standards 40 percent past current targets by 2030.

It does not include a priority of Governor Jerry Brown’s—extending the state’s cap-and-trade program, currently set to end in 2020.

But at a press conference after the vote, Brown said he expects businesses will lobby lawmakers to extend cap-and-trade, rather than face new carbon limits from regulators.

"They’re going to plead for a market system called cap-and-trade, so they can respond in a way that’s more beneficial to their bottom line," Brown said.

In other words, companies may rather have the option to purchase pollution allowances, which authorize their emissions, than be forced to cut back. Outside the press conference to give the Republican rebuttal, Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen would not rule out continuing the program.

"Conversations are ongoing about cap-and-trade and whether that’s an effective program or not in terms of achieving environmental benefits," Olsen said.

Renewing cap-and-trade could require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature. By leaving it out, lawmakers passed new emissions targets with a simple majority—which could make that eventual two-thirds support easier to find.

The latest cap-and-trade auctions, where businesses purchase allowances for their emissions, have fallen short of state expectations. Some analysts say uncertainty about the program’s future is affecting returns.

Legislature Approves Bill To Broaden Definition Of Rape

A bill that would broaden the definition of rape in California is headed to Governor Jerry Brown.

It would expand what can be referred to as rape to include all forms of non-consensual sexual assaults.

While the measure would not increase penalties for any crimes, Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia of Los Angeles County says using the term rape will carry extra weight.

“When we fail to call rape ‘rape,’” Garcia said, “we rob the survivors and their families of the justice they deserve. If we’re going to truly be committed to ending the rape culture, we need to start by calling it rape.”

The bill is a response to the Stanford University case in which a former student convicted of sexual assault was sentenced to just six months in jail.

The measure gained near unanimous support in both houses of the Legislature this year.

Bill Criminalizing Drone Use During Emergencies Goes To Governor

California Governor Jerry Brown will decide once again this year whether the emerging presence of drones requires new laws.

The Legislature sent Brown a bill Wednesday that would make it a misdemeanor to operate the remote controlled flying devices at the scene of an emergency.

Democratic Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez of Pomona spoke in favor of the bill on the Assembly floor.

“Drone technology has the potential to bring an entire emergency response operation to a standstill,” Rodriguez said. “The health and safety of the public is threatened any time a first responder is stopped from acting quickly.”

The same legislation would authorize a judge to ban stalkers, sex offenders and others from using drones if the judge finds it’s in the public interest.

Another bill Brown could soon receive would grant immunity to authorities who damage drones while fighting fires or responding to other emergencies.

Brown vetoed a trio of drone bills last year saying he did not want to create new categories of criminal conduct.

Lawmakers Approve Campus Shower Use By Homeless Community College Students

Students who are homeless and enrolled at California community colleges would be allowed to use showers on campus under a bill sent to Governor Jerry Brown.

Democratic Assemblyman Das Williams says the measure would help students facing a housing crisis to successfully complete their coursework.

“I went to community college while I was homeless and couldn’t use the showers right there and I thought it was only me,” Williams said, “until I found out that thousands of other students that face this same challenge.”

The allowance would be made for students who are enrolled full-time, pay tuition and remain in good standing.

The showers would be open to homeless students two hours per weekday during the schools’ normal operating hours.

A legislative analysis finds the college districts would spend an estimated $1.7 million to regulate shower use each year.

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