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Capitol Roundup: More From A Busy Day In Sacramento


From a voting system overhaul to double pay on Thanksgiving, California lawmakers debated hundreds of bills Monday ahead of the Wednesday's final day of the two-year legislative session.

That's in addition to Monday's contentious vote over farm worker overtime legislation.

The Assembly sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would block California judges from sentencing anyone convicted of sexual assault to probation. It's in response to the Stanford rape case, in which a judge sentenced a former student-athlete to a much more lenient sentence than prosecutors had recommended.

The Senate approved a measure that would overhaul California's voting system to one similar to Colorado's (which Capital Public Radio profiled last year). If signed by the governor, counties could begin shifting to a system where all registered voters would receive a ballot in the mail. The number of polling places would be greatly reduced but would be open to voters from throughout the county.

And a bill that would require large retail and grocery stores to pay double wages to employees who work on Thanksgiving narrowly passed the Senate. The measure still faces a difficult road in the Assembly.

Meanwhile, Brown signed 21 bills Monday, including a ban on bullhooks used on elephants in circuses. He had vetoed a similar measure last year.

The governor also vetoed five bills. Among them: a measure that would have required new lawyers to complete 50 hours of pro bono work.

Brown also vetoed a proposed sales tax exemption for customers who buy back their pledged property from pawnbrokers after defaulting on a loan. In his veto message, he wrote that given California's "precariously balanced" finances, "new sales tax exemptions, like new spending on programs, need to be considered comprehensively" as part of the state budget process.

That suggests two more prominent sales tax exemption bills awaiting action from the governor - for diapers and tampons - could also be in jeopardy.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio