Abortion pills would be available at college campuses under California bill

Should California colleges make medication that induces an abortion available to students?

A controversial bill that would require student health centers at the University of California and California State University to offer “non-surgical abortion services” faces a crucial vote today to keep advancing this session. Introduced last February, Senate Bill 320 must pass the Senate Education Committee, which meets at 9 a.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol, before a Friday deadline for holdover legislation.

Sen. Connie Leyva, a Chino Democrat who is carrying the measure, said she believes the more than 400,000 female students attending UC and CSU deserve affordable and safe abortion procedures on campus. Women who are less than 10 weeks pregnant can obtain the medication, a two-pill dosage of mifepristone and misoprostol, from a doctor, creating a response similar to an early miscarriage.

Students currently have to leave campus to access reproductive health services, sometimes traveling for hours and missing school and work, Leyva notes. Half of all students across both systems come from low-income families, according to a UC San Francisco report, creating further cost barriers. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

How voters shook up California’s Legislature

legislatureSomething was different this year.

As lawmakers in Sacramento approached the last night of their session—the final opportunity to pass or kill bills for the year—they had had three days to figure out how to vote.

Three days may not sound like much, given the magnitude of the decisions involved in shaping policy for 39 million Californians. But it’s three more days than lawmakers used to have to make up their minds on some measures.

That’s because a new law voters imposed last year forbids them to act on a bill until it’s been available to the public for 72 hours. While most legislation is published online for several weeks or months, every year lawmakers write some new ones at the last minute, leaving almost no time for the public—or even their colleagues in the Legislature—to scrutinize the proposals.

The new routine was met with mixed reviews as lawmakers pounded through hundreds of proposals before adjourning in the wee hours Saturday.

“It takes a lot of tension out of the Legislature in the last week because we don’t have to be jammed with new bills that we haven’t read,” said Democratic Sen. Jim Beall of San Jose. “When you get stuff that’s written, like, two hours before, it’s tough to decide what’s best for your constituents.”

Beall said the three-day requirement helped him secure enough votes to pass a landmark package of bills intended to supply California with more affordable housing. It pushed the sponsoring lawmakers to explain the proposals earlier, he said, and answer questions. And when it came time to vote on the complex plan to raise real estate fees and streamline environmental reviews, Beall said, his colleagues were confident that no new wrinkle had been slipped in at the last minute.

“It gives us a little more comfort level in voting for something like this that is very complex,” he said.

On the other hand, Senate leader Kevin de León blamed the three-day rule for torpedoing one of his key bills, saying it gave him less time to negotiate. Powerful unions and utility companies opposed his proposal for all electricity in California to come from clean, renewable sources, and the Assembly declined to take it up for a vote.

“It’s taken away a lot of the creativity in terms of last-minute, last-second negotiations,” said de León, a Los Angeles Democrat. “People don’t understand: Seventy-two hours is like dog years during the last week of the legislative session. Seventy-two hours is like three months.”

Eliminating such last-minute deals was exactly the point, said Charles Munger, Jr., a Republican activist who spent nearly $11 million on the campaign for the law, which was Proposition 54 on the statewide ballot in 2016. Bills that can’t withstand three days of public review are probably not good for the public, he said.

“I think the process [this year] has worked better,” Munger said. “I’m pleased so far, and I will find out in due course if there were any problems.”

A fellow proponent of the initiative, former state lawmaker Sam Blakeslee, raised concern that the Legislature is not following its requirement to allow people to video-record legislative proceedings. The initiative says the Legislature must allow people to record and, by next year, make videos available online. Blakeslee, a Republican from San Luis Obispo, said a rule the Legislature has proposed since the new law kicked in could limit access for people who want to make their own recordings.

“We’re still working to help the Legislature come up with the right approach,” said Blakeslee.

The three-day rule has changed the game for lobbyists like Paul Bauer (far left). CALmatters photo by Max Whittaker

Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) said that overall the new law has brought more transparency to the lawmaking process. But as the frenzy to pass bills reached a crescendo late Friday night, Nielsen complained that there remain ways to obfuscate.

“We are having policy committee hearings as we speak,” he said around 9 p.m.

Committees on banking, education and health held night hearings Friday on bills re-written just a few days earlier. That gave lawmakers scant opportunity—or none—for meaningful input, Nielsen said.

The law does not address how much time must pass between a committee hearing and a floor vote. It just says that before the bill goes to the floor, it must be published online for at least three days.

That’s a game changer for the hundreds of lobbyists who pack Capitol hallways in the final days of the lawmaking year. They’re used to urging legislators to make minor tweaks and do wholesale re-writes all night long.

Now, lobbyist Paul Bauer observed as he waited outside the Senate chamber, “You can’t ask them to change the bill. They won’t do it.”

eporter for CALmatters

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

The Good, Bad and Ugly – Impending Bills Impact Small Business

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image21552155As the Legislature reconvenes this week for its final month of business for the 2015-2016 legislative session, NFIB California reflected on victories and challenges ahead per the “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” bill list. Bills included in this list represent those which will have the greatest impact, either negative or positive, to our 22,000 small businesses across California.

As we enter these final four weeks of the legislative session, NFIB is prepared to hit the ground running to ensure the voice and interests of our 22,000 small business members, and their hundreds of thousands of employees, are heard regarding our remaining priority issues.

NFIB was proud to help stop a handful of ugly bills such as SB 878 (Leyva), the Predictive Scheduling Mandate, and SB 1161 (Allen), the ‘California Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act’ so far this year. However, several bad bills remain alive and we are prepared to put forth every effort to protect small business in these final weeks.

Environmental mandates, transportation taxes, protected family leave, and agricultural workers’ mandates are some of our top policy concerns as the legislature wraps up this two-year session. Given the current lack of transparency in the legislature, it is impossible to know every issue that will be brought up since bills can, and will, be gutted-and-amended without notice to the public.

AB 2757 (Gonzalez), which mandates overtime pay for agricultural employees, is a perfect example: this bill died on the Assembly Floor months ago, but has resurfaced in the form of AB 1066 without full committee scrutiny.

In the first half of the legislative session, we witnessed how swiftly the Legislature can ram through devastating public policy with the enactment of Senate Bill 3 (Leno), which increased the state minimum wage to $15 per hour. Therefore, our 22,000 members will be highly engaged and informed on these policy issues with a regularly updated ‘The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly’ bill list.

Currently, the list includes 39 bills total (23 active): 14 good (5 active); 7 bad (6 active); and 18 ugly (12 active). This list reflects proposals from the 2015-2016 legislative session, and as new bills are introduced or morphed into substantively new bills, this list will be updated. You can always find the current version at http://www.nfib.com/ca/gbu.

CA Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business.

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily