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California State Legislature
Important news articles, editorials and op-ed pieces relating to California State Legislative issues and decisions. 

201420132012

January 31, 2014
Plastic bag ban gets support of California lawmakers

Three key lawmakers are converging in Ventura California today to unveil a compromise bill to ban single-use plastic bags. 

Convicted California state senator can keep serving, for now

A state lawmaker found guilty of voter fraud and perjury this week will be allowed to keep serving until a judge enters a formal conviction, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said Thursday.

January 29, 2014
Backers put brakes on proposed California car-tax hike

Backers of a proposed ballot measure to more than double the vehicle-license fee to pay for road improvements have decided to drop efforts to put it on the Nov. 4 ballot.

January. 28 2014
Kicking cigarette butts out of California is aim of bill

Walk along any beach or through any park and chances are they'll be there by the dozens: the tan, discarded remains of a cigarette.

January 26, 2014
Number of women dropping in California Legislature

The number of women in the 120-member Legislature has fallen from a peak of 37 in 2006 to 32 this year, and groups that promote women running for public office are concerned the trend will continue this election year.

January 23, 2014
Deal reached on new California bill to regulate plastic grocery bags

Disposable plastic bags would be banned from grocery check-out stands in California and consumers would pay at least a dime for a paper or re-usable plastic bag a under a compromise proposal negotiated with key opponents of last year's bill to ban plastic shopping bags.

Smith & Wesson to halt California sales of new semi-auto pistols

Firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson will no longer ship new semi-automatic pistols to California, preferring to turn away from the nation's most populous market rather than comply with a controversial new gun law.

January 22, 2014
2 Southern Californians expected to get top Legislature posts

Toni Atkins of San Diego is chosen for speaker of the Assembly. Kevin de Leon of L.A. was picked last week to lead the Senate.

January 21, 2014
California lawmaker lobbies against 'jab at my husband'

"I don't think the bill has anything to do with public policy," Liu said after the vote. "I think it's a jab at my husband, period."

January 19, 2014
Legislative deadline nears for hundreds of bills

Hundreds of bills that failed to pass the Legislature last year face an end-of-the-month deadline to gain initial support, including measures affecting gun owners, the oil industry and farm laborers.

January 4, 2014
California lawmakers face water, prison and budget issues in 2014

When California legislators return from break, water bonds, prison overcrowding and a budget debate will be on their to-do list.

February 28, 2014
Coastal bill would erode due process

Will commission get new powers to fine property owners?

February 25, 2014
State Senator takes paid leave of absence following conviction

Sen. Roderick Wright will take an indefinite leave of absence with pay, according to a statement Tuesday from Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg.

February 24, 2014
California senator pleads not guilty to corruption

State Sen. Ron Calderon pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges that he accepted $100,000 in bribes in return for pushing legislation, charges that could send him to federal prison for years.

February 13, 2014
​California lawmaker wants warning labels on sugary drinks

Sodas and most other sugar-sweetened drinks sold in California would be required to carry warning labels for obesity, diabetes and tooth decay under a bill introduced in Sacramento on Thursday and backed by several public health advocacy groups.

February 12, 2014
Op-Ed: Legislative supermajorities at risk in 2014 election

However, the supermajorities have not, at least so far, been significant factors in what emerges from the Capitol, despite pressure from liberal groups to use them.
March 31, 2014
California senator suggests an ethics ombudsman

State Sen. Richard Roth went on Los Angeles radio Monday morning to float an idea for a Senate ethics ombudsman who could take tips of wrongdoing from staff members, lawmakers, and others.

Editorial: Suspended senators shouldn't get paychecks

The eye-popping charges of gun-trafficking and bribery have made state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, a political pariah. Meanwhile, he will continue to receive his $95,291 legislative salary and can tap a six-figure war chest to fight the accusations in court. 

Op-Ed: Is the Legislature rotten to its core? 

Californians need to know how deep political corruption runs. An independent commission should be appointed.

March 30, 2014
The 'pay-to-play' law that snagged Calif. state Sen. Leland Yee

An undercover FBI agent posing as a medical marijuana supplier met with state Sen. Leland Yee in Sacramento in June and, according to the FBI's transcript of a secret tape recording, said he was willing to make campaign contributions in exchange for support of legislation.

Who is the real Leland Yee? Earnest California state senator's double life leads to 'epic swan dive'

On March 5, state Sen. Leland Yee tweeted a picture of himself from City Hall's election office, raising his hand and swearing to be a faithful public servant. "I've officially filed for Secretary of State!" Yee exclaimed to his 5,646 followers.

Leland Yee’s campaign debt at root of criminal behavior, authorities allege

The 137-page FBI affidavit against Yee and more than 20 other defendants says the San Francisco Democrat’s focus on retiring a $70,000 campaign debt from his unsuccessful 2011 mayor’s race and raising money for his 2014 candidacy for secretary of state led him to accept bribes in return for official favors and arrange overseas weapons deals.

Indispensable insider looks out for Gov. Jerry Brown's interests

As the governor's gatekeeper and chief liaison to the Legislature, Nancy McFadden is the longest-serving loyalist in Brown's inner circle.

Ban it! From bags to butts, California bills would nix range of products 

Extinguish your filtered cigarettes, ditch the plastic bags to carry your groceries, toss your micro-beaded facial scrub and cancel those plans to catch an orca show at SeaWorld.

March 28, 2014
Brown calls for resignations after state Senate votes to suspend Yee, Calderon, Wright 

The California state Senate voted Friday to suspend three of its members who are in legal trouble. The vote was 28-1.

Senate to vote shortly on fates of Yee, Calderon and Wright

California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg will move to suspend three of his Democratic colleagues today who have been accused of crimes including corruption, perjury and conspiracy to traffic weapons.

California lawmakers suspend three disgraced senators with pay 

The California state Senate today took the unprecedented step of suspending three of its members who have been accused of crimes including corruption, perjury and conspiracy to traffic weapons -- a move that takes away their power but maintains their pay.

March 27, 2014
FBI says anti-gun lawmaker arranged weapons deal with Muslim rebels 

A prominent San Francisco Democrat, who has been one of the state’s leading proponents of gun control, is accused of working with Chinatown gangsters and brokering arms deals with a Muslim rebel group based in the Philippines, according to court documents released Wednesday. 

California state senator arrested and charged in FBI sweep

San Francisco Democrat Sen. Leland Yee was arrested and charged Wednesday with conspiracy to traffic in firearms and scheme to defraud citizens of honest service. 

March 26, 2014
Indicted State Sen. Leland Yee withdraws from Secretary of State race 

Bay Area state Sen. Leland Yee, who was indicted Wednesday on a multitude of public corruption and gun trafficking charges, has dropped out of the race for California Secretary of State.

California state senator accused of gun charges 

A California state senator who authored gun control legislation asked for campaign donations in exchange for introducing an undercover FBI agent to an arms trafficker, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.

Morrell wins state Senate seat

Assemblyman Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, won Tuesday's special election in the 23rd Senate District.

Tim Donnelly says past larceny case was college 'prank'

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly, who has denied having any criminal record before carrying a gun into an airport in 2012, on Wednesday blamed a larceny case in Michigan in 1985 on a drunken "prank."

March 18, 2014
State GOP has $13.6-million plan to block Democratic supermajorities

 California Republican leaders have a plan for depriving the Democrats of supermajorities in both houses of the state Legislature and rebuilding the party in this year’s elections, but it will take raising up to $13.6 million, which GOP officials admitted Tuesday is a very tall order.

California car data bill has manufacturers, insurers butting heads

Foreshadowing a clash between carmakers and a prominent auto insurance company, Sen. Bill Monning on Tuesday unveiled a bill to loosen car manufacturers’ grip on data generated by vehicles.

Proposed assembly bill seeks to create planning database for sea level rise 

Arguing that state agencies have not done enough planning to respond to rising sea levels, Assemblyman Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park, has introduced legislation that would establish a database of planning efforts for sea level rise in California.

March 17, 2014
Toni Atkins elected officially as next California Assembly Speaker

Toni Atkins was voted the next Assembly speaker Monday, making the Democrat the first San Diegan and first lesbian to lead the Legislature's lower chamber.

Affirmative action bill SCA 5 'dead for the year'

A legislative plan to ask California voters whether they want affirmative action reinstated at public universities is not moving forward this year.

Republican state senators block campaign disclosure bill 

Republican state Senators on Monday blocked a bill that would require more disclosure of those who contribute money through nonprofit groups to affect California elections, the first legislative setback for Democrats since they lost their supermajority two weeks ago.

March 16, 2014
Law prevents regulation of illicit massage parlors, officials say

The 2008 California law blocks local jurisdictions from using zoning and other laws to control illicit massage parlors, mayors and police chiefs tell lawmakers.

March 7, 2014
Gift ban proposed for California lawmakers

Citing the need to restore public trust in the California legislature, Senate Democrats Thursday announced new legislation meant to reduce the influence of lobbyists at the Capitol.

California lawmaker wants a non-partisan Secretary of State’s office

The California Secretary of State’s office would become non-partisan under a state lawmaker’s proposed constitutional amendment.

California bill would ban SeaWorld from using Orcas in San Diego shows

A state lawmaker is introducing legislation that would ban SeaWorld from using orcas in its San Diego shows. 

What California’s Orca Bill Would Mean For San Diego’s SeaWorld

A state lawmaker is introducing legislation that would ban SeaWorld from using orcas in its San Diego shows.

March 4, 2014
Ethics panel to delay its investigation of Sen. Calderon

The state Senate’s ethics panel will delay its investigation into Sen. Ronald S. Calderon to avoid interfering with a federal prosecution of the lawmaker on corruption charges, the panel’s chairman said Tuesday.

March 3, 2014
Incoming assembly speaker seeks vast new power for Coastal Commission 

If you had to come up with one state agency that has done the most damage to California’s economy with its regulatory sweep and overreach, you’ll never come close to topping the state Air Resources Board. 
April 28, 2014
 Editorial: When money shouldn't talk in Sacramento 

There should be a ban on campaign donations around the end of legislative sessions.

April 27, 2014
The Public Eye: Big business channels money to California’s moderate Democrats

They are Democrats, yet their votes in the Capitol have helped big business continue fracking in California and defeat a bill dictating pay and benefit levels for Wal-Mart workers.

Bill puts police union members on prison panels

Gonzalez’s call to seal union slots on panels passes the Assembly.

April 24, 2014
FPPC upholds $40,000 penalty against Sen. Tom Berryhill 

California's political-ethics panel Thursday unanimously approved a $40,000 money-laundering penalty against state Sen. Tom Berryhill.

April 20, 2014
Fighting season for Brown, lawmakers 

The governor and legislative leaders are about to begin an intense period of bartering on cap-and-trade, the bullet train and a rainy-day fund.

Fracking, soda warnings, and fish labeling: A rundown of bills California lawmakers face on their return

Lawmakers return from their spring recess this week focusing on hundreds of bills that have to pass from one house to the other by the end of May, but the most contentious issues will come later.

Can Sacramento break medpot deadlock?

California lawmakers continue to struggle over regulating medical marijuana, nearly 20 years after state voters defied federal law and permitted patients with a doctor’s prescription to use the illegal drug to ease chronic pain, anxiety and depression.

April 14, 2014
Steinberg says California cap-and-trade money should be spent on housing, transit, high-speed rail

Abandoning a controversial effort to add a gasoline tax to California’s fledgling program to reduce greenhouse gases, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, on Monday shifted his focus to how to spend billions of dollars on affordable housing, mass transit and high-speed rail.

April 12, 2014
How they killed the Seaworld bill

SeaWorld won the day with a potent mix of persuasive reasoning and hardball politics.

April 9, 2014
Of Orcas, Atkins and the new Assembly

Politics in California’s Capitol is rarely black and white – even when dealing with orcas.

April 8, 2014
California bill ending San Diego SeaWorld orca shows stalls

A California bill that sought to end killer whale shows at SeaWorld in San Diego and phase out keeping them in captivity has been put on hold, meaning it's dead for the year.

Leland Yee pleads not guilty to corruption and conspiracy charges

State Sen Leland Yee and one of his alleged co-conspirators in a complicated corruption and illegal firearms case pleaded not guilty today on federal charges that could send the San Francisco Democrat to jail for up to 125 years.

April 5, 2014
Candidates for 35th District Assembly offer distinct choices

Heidi Harmon sat at the kitchen table in her renovated San Luis Obispo home and talked about her decision to challenge incumbent Katcho Achadjian for his 35th Assembly District seat.

Op-Ed: Window opens to curb legal corruption 

The scandals rocking the Legislature provide Senate leaders the motivation to ban fundraising during peak lawmaking periods.

April 4, 2014
Sen. Leland Yee case illustrates culture of corruption

The culture of corruption that has led to the paid suspensions of three Democratic state senators facing serious criminal charges does not begin and end in the state Capitol. It infects the political process from the moment a candidate announces his or her intention to run for office. 

April 2, 2014
Keith Jackson emerges as major figure in Calif. Sen. Yee probe

Former San Francisco school board President Keith Jackson turns out to be more than the alleged conduit between state Sen. Leland Yee and tong leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow in the corruption case that has ensnared all three men.

Toni Atkins will take over as California Assembly speaker in May

Assembly Speaker-elect Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, will take the leadership baton from current Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, in May.

April 1, 2014
Case against state Sen. Yee raises fundraising questions

Hours after FBI agents finished a raid on state Sen. Leland Yee's office in the state Capitol on Wednesday, lawmakers emerged from the stately building to attend numerous campaign fundraisers around town. 
May 29, 2014
State a step closer to minimum wage hike, paid sick leave 

Legislators moved Thursday to further hike the state's minimum wage and to guarantee workers three paid sick days a year, despite opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce, which labeled both proposals "job killers."

Sugary beverage labeling bill approved by senate, goes to assembly

The California state senate approved a bill Thursday that would require warning labels on sugary drinks. It now moves on to the assembly.

May 28, 2014
Bill to create North County water district passes state Assembly

By the end of Wednesday's state Assembly session, AB 2453 had gained 50 “yes” votes and 11 “no” votes. Additional Assembly members chose not to vote.

May 27, 2014
California Democrats call for gun restrictions after Isla Vista killings

On their first day back in the Capitol since the killing Friday night of six college students near UC Santa Barbara, Democrats in the California Legislature said the state should do more to keep mentally ill people from obtaining guns.

May 24, 2014
Op-Ed: Coastal agency power play slyly advances

Budget trailer bill will include controversial 'fining' language.

Bills advance for sick days, Olympian tax breaks

Diaper subsidy, off-road helmet exemption also pass.

May 20, 2014
Senate approves bill to halve gifts to lawmakers

The California Senate on Monday advanced a measure to crack down on special-interest gifts to lawmakers.

May 14, 2014
California plastic bag ban clears assembly committee

Democratic State Senator Alex Padilla says around 100 cities and counties around the state have already outlawed disposable plastic grocery bags and it’s time for a state-wide policy.

Legislature may give tax relief for underwater mortgages

The Legislature may be breaking up a political logjam over tax relief for beleaguered homeowners who receive writeoffs from lenders for their underwater mortgages.

Steinberg pushes for more spending in budget negotiations

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said Wednesday that Gov. Jerry Brown's revised state budget doesn't do enough to acknowledge the Californians who have been damaged by years of program cuts and suggested the state could divert more money to them by taking a different approach to setting aside money for the rainy-day fund.

Compromise reached on Prop. 13 treatment of business property

Decades of political wrangling over how Proposition 13, the iconic property tax limit passed by voters in 1978, is applied to commercial property reached a climax of sorts Tuesday in a Capitol hearing room.

May 12, 2014
Plastic bag makers air TV ads opposing Padilla’s proposed ban

The Capitol’s years-long debate over plastic grocery bags is heading to a TV set near you.

May 8, 2014
Lobbyist home fundraiser ban passes Assembly

Responding to a campaign finance transgression that produced an unprecedented fine, the California Assembly voted on Thursday to ban fundraisers at the homes of lobbyists.

Smartphone 'kill switch' bill passes California Senate vote on second try

The California Senate has flipped the switch on the kill-switch bill.

May 7, 2014
Cigarette butt ban bill extinguished in committee

Filtered cigarettes will keep burning in California for the foreseeable future.

Fracking billionaires inject money into McCoy campaign

Taking a stop along the money trail…
June 28, 2014
Six ballot measures qualify to go before voters in November 

Costly initiative fights on medical malpractice damages and insurance rates will be on California Nov. ballot.

June 27, 2014
California voters remain unhappy with Legislature, survey finds

Fueled by partisan and geographic differences, satisfaction with the Legislature continued a downward swing that began after a state senator was arrested on corruption charges earlier this year, according to a Field Poll released Friday.

June 26, 2014
 California Legislature repeals glove law for food handlers 

California lawmakers repeal law requiring food handlers wear gloves.

June 25, 2014
Bill to boost California minimum wage fails again

With multiple Democrats not voting, a California Assembly panel on Wednesday rejected a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage beyond the boost agreed to in 2013.

June 24, 2014
Lawmakers urge change to carbon emissions plan 

The cost of gas is likely to rise by 15 cents in January because of carbon emission rules.

June 18, 2014
Plastic bag ban could mean sacks of cash for grocers

California grocers stand to make millions on a bill working its way through the Legislature that would charge consumers a dime for every paper bag they use - because it's the grocers who would get to keep all 10 cents.

June 17, 2014
California soda labeling bill fails in Assembly committee

Casting doubt on the effectiveness of food labels as a public health tool, California lawmakers on Tuesday turned back legislation that would require warnings on sugary beverages.

June 16, 2014
California Senate passes fundraising ban it killed last week

The California Senate reversed course Monday by approving a fundraising ban it rejected last week.

June 15, 2014
Bills targeting sugary sodas, plastic bags, grease theft survive 

What do sugar-laden soft drinks, flimsy plastic shopping bags and used kitchen grease have in common?

State lawmakers OK $108 billion budget; plan moves to Gov. Brown

Just hours ahead of a constitutional deadline, the California Legislature approved a $108 billion spending plan Sunday for the 2014-15 fiscal year that sends billions more to schools, pays down debt, props up the embattled High-Speed Rail project and provides funds for a Golden Gate Bridge suicide net. 

June 9, 2014
Lawmakers pressured to act on water bond

As California’s drought continues, lawmakers are being pressured to put a revised water bond on the fall ballot. 

North County water district bill will likely be amended

A bill to create a Paso Robles groundwater management district will likely be amended to address concerns that property owners in the district would have too much influence as it is currently written.

Editorial: California’s troublesome environmental review process needs to be fixed

First, we must make clear – emphatically so – that we want Elon Musk to build his $5 billion electric car battery “gigafactory” in California. 

June 5, 2014
Bill to preserve beach bonfire rings passes state Senate committee 

The legislation draws questions because some say the pits are still widely used after a mandate that only charcoal be burned.

June 4, 2014
California Senate to vote June 16 on Steinberg replacement

The California Senate is set to vote June 16 to formally name Sen. Kevin de León the next leader of the upper house.

June 2, 2014
Bad news for legislators: People like voting by mail

With two-thirds or more of the votes in Tuesday’s primary election expected to come from mail ballots, it seems way too late to start asking whether that’s a good idea.

June 1, 2014
Independent spending in California’s statewide, legislative races the highest in years

Outside spending by dentists, unions, oil companies and other groups in California statewide and legislative races on Tuesday’s ballot has reached nearly $23 million.
July 31, 2104
Leland Yee to be arraigned on racketeering charge

Suspended state Sen. Leland Yee has been lying low since he pleaded not guilty to corruption and conspiracy to traffic firearms in April, but the San Francisco Democrat is expected to resurface again today in court to enter a plea on his latest charge for racketeering, announced last week.

July 30, 2014
Steinberg discusses ambitions after leaving the Legislature

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said Tuesday that he has mentioned his interest in being appointed to the California Supreme Court to Gov. Jerry Brown.

July 10, 2014
Investigation urged after Latino caucus rejects Republican lawmaker 

Investigation urged after Latino caucus rejects Republican lawmaker.

July 9, 2014
Op-Ed: Senate chief Steinberg, soon to depart, knows a deal precedes success

A deal is key in the Capitol. Passing important bills doesn't just happen immaculately.

July 7, 2014
California red-legged frog named state amphibian

The frog made famous in a tale by Mark Twain is now California's official state amphibian.

July 5, 2014
Bill would preserve California Central Coast wilderness

Sayles is hoping that a wilderness bill in Congress will protect this wild landscape and others in San Luis Obispo County for generations to come.

Legislature struggles to revamp water-bond ballot measure as competing interests muddle talks

The Legislature adjourned for its summer recess Thursday without meeting its top remaining priority: overhauling the $11.1 billion water bond scheduled to go before voters this fall.

July 1, 2014
Speaker Atkins: Water bond deal has stalled

There will be no California water bond deal this week at the state Capitol, despite hopes of
legislative leaders that an agreement could be reached before lawmakers go on summer recess Thursday.
August 22, 2014
Sen. Ben Hueso arrested on suspicion of DUI

Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, was arrested on Thursday night on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

August 21, 2014
Plastic bag ban bill debate heats up

A bill (SB 270) in the California legislature would ban single-use plastic grocery bags and require a 10-cent charge on paper bags.

Bill could double car registration fees

A bill that could double California counties’ vehicle registration fees has passed the Legislature, and is awaiting a signature or veto from Gov. Jerry Brown.

August 20, 2014
California Assembly approves bill to settle private beach dispute

Advancing an effort to ensure public access to a contested California beach, the Assembly on Wednesday narrowly passed and legislation compelling the state to step into a dispute over Martins Beach.

Assembly approves legislation to require California boat operators to take safety course

The state Assembly is endorsing legislation that would require Californians to take a boating safety course, an online test and obtain a vessel operator card before driving a motorized boat.

August 18, 2014
November ballot won’t ask Californians about yanking pay of suspended lawmakers

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg’s effort to ask voters whether the Legislature should be able to yank the pay of lawmakers who are suspended for allegations of dishonorable behavior will not make it onto the November ballot, marking a setback for the Sacramento Democrat who proposed the constitutional amendment in response to criminal allegations this year against a trio of senators.

Assembly bill to protect fire rings won't be heard again this year

Assembly bill to protect fire rings in Southern California is held back in Senate Appropriations Committee.

August 13 2014
Crucial vote nears for plastic bag ban

A push to ban single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large retailers across California comes up for a crucial vote Thursday.

August 7, 2014
California lawmakers kill measure to ban sale of e-cigarettes in vending machines

A proposal to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes in California vending machines died in an Assembly committee Wednesday.

August 4, 2014
Rift forms in public, private quake alert efforts

A few seconds of warning before a major earthquake could save lives.

Santa Barbara County oil-drilling project elicits worries

California state senator's proposal would close loophole that could allow drilling from offshore oil field.
Editor's Note: A link to the bill discussed in this article can be found here.

Time running out to reach water bond deal

California lawmakers are back from their summer break and facing pressure to craft a deal on a new water bond. But time is running short.