Starting next year, minors will no longer be prosecuted for prostitution in California under a bill signed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
That’s one of 26 measures Brown had acted on so far as of early Monday afternoon. He faces a Friday deadline to clear the 327 measures that remained on his desk.
The bill, which provoked a great deal of debate as it narrowly passed the Legislature, would still allow law enforcement to detain underage prostitutes to protect a minor’s health or safety.
Lawmakers from both parties agreed that underage prostitutes are victims – not criminals. But Republicans – and some Democrats – argued that the bill removes a key tool that law enforcement agencies have used to help troubled kids escape prostitution. The bill’s supporters, on the other hand, said decriminalization is the only way to break the cycle of prostitution and human trafficking of minors.
Meanwhile, it’s about to become illegal to check a map on your smart phone while driving – unless your phone is safely mounted on your dashboard.
Brown signed a bill banning drivers from holding and operating handheld wireless electronic devices. That expands the existing ban from talking, texting and emailing to include other apps. The bill’s author says it seeks to cut down on distracted driving.
And the governor approved a measure that will require gun owners – and law enforcement personnel – to safely store their firearms before leaving them in unoccupied vehicles. The bill would require the guns to be locked up – either in a secure box or in the trunk.
Brown vetoed a measure that would have required county sheriffs to charge fees that cover the costs of issuing concealed carry permits. It would also have removed the existing – and optional – $100 cap on those fees.
The bill came in response to a Sacramento County budget shortfall caused by an increase in concealed carry permits issued by Sheriff Scott Jones.
In his veto message, the governor wrote that he’s “unaware of a larger problem” beyond Sacramento County “that merits a statewide change at this time.”
*Editor's Note: The original headline of this story has been modified.