Conservative praise some of Gov. Brown’s vetoes

jerry-brown-signs-lawsSACRAMENTO – California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed only 118 of the 957 bills that came before his desk in the recently concluded legislative session, but some of his final vetoes earned a great deal of attention and praise – even from conservative Republicans.

That’s an interesting turn of events given that Brown signed into law most of the main Democratic priorities from the session. He approved a bill that turns California into a “sanctuary state” that limits the ability of local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration priorities. He approved a transportation tax and new spending on affordable housing programs. He agreed to a gender-neutral category for California driver’s licenses.

In addition, Brown signed a law that places more limits on the open carry of firearms and mandated that small businesses now provide 12 weeks of unpaid family leave to their workers. There’s much commentary about this having been one of the most liberal sessions in memory, which isn’t a surprise given the diminished power of the California GOP.

So what would conservatives – including ones outside of California – be happy about?

The main cause for celebration on the right came from Brown’s veto of Senate Bill 169. That legislation was passed in response to federal Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ decision to roll back Obama administration sexual-assault guidelines for campuses. Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, pointed specifically to the Trump administration in authoring the bill:

“The Trump administration continues to perpetuate a war on women,” Jackson wrote in a statement. “It is now more important than ever that Governor Brown sign SB169 into law and that other states follow. All students deserve an education in an environment that is safe and free from sexual harassment and sexual violence.”

The issue involves the Title IX federal amendments from 1972 that require schools and universities that receive federal aid to assure an environment that’s free of sexual discrimination and harassment. The Obama administration in 2011 sent a letter to schools, colleges and universities urging stepped up efforts to battle sexual assaults on campus.

But conservatives, such as David French of National Review, argued that the Obama-era guidelines were “mandating that (schools) satisfy the lowest burden of proof in sexual-harassment and sexual-assault adjudications, defining sexual harassment far too broadly, and failing to adequately protect fundamental due-process rights.” The new administration rolled back the rules and – to the surprise of many – Brown agreed with Trump and DeVos.

Brown issued an unusually long veto statement, in which he noted that “sexual harassment and sexual violence are serious and complicated matters for colleges to resolve. On the one side are complainants who come forward to seek justice and protection; on the other side stand accused students, who, guilty or not, must be treated fairly and with the presumption of innocence until the facts speak otherwise.”

The governor added that “thoughtful legal minds have increasingly questioned whether federal and state actions to prevent and redress sexual harassment and assault – well-intentioned as they are – have also unintentionally resulted in some colleges’ failure to uphold due process for accused students.” Brown also argued that the state should avoid new rules until it has “ascertained the full impact of what we recently enacted.”

In another veto that received praise on the right, Brown rejected Assembly Bill 1513, a union-backed measure that would have required private-sector workers in the privately funded home-care industry to provide private information to unions.

Workers who provide help in the homes of sick, elderly and disabled people already pass background checks. But this legislation would require the placement of “a copy of a registered home care aide’s name, mailing address, cellular telephone number and email address on file with the department to be made available, upon request, to a labor organization.”

Labor unions pitched the measure as a way to improve the licensure and regulation of these aides, but opponents saw it as a means to help unions contract these workers as part of their organizing efforts. Brown agreed with the opponents, and expressed concern about “releasing the personal information of these home care aides, who joined the registry without knowing that their information would be disclosed as prescribed by this bill.”

“Conservatives find themselves in the unexpected position of cheering some of California Governor Jerry Brown’s recent vetoes,” wrote Jim Geraghty in National Review. Geraghty also pointed to Brown’s veto of a bill that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns to qualify for the California ballot and another one that would have required large companies to provide detailed data about male and female salary disparities.

Brown, by the way, vetoed a bill that would have imposed a late-night driving curfew on those under 21. Currently, the curfew applies only to those under 18. The governor made the fundamentally conservative argument that 18-year-olds “are eligible to enlist in the military, vote in national, state and local elections, enter into contracts and buy their own car.” So it would be unfair to limit their driving privileges.

As the 79-year-old Democratic governor finishes his final gubernatorial term, he still has a way of defying critics and keeping people on the left and right guessing.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Drone Bill Will Stifle Innovation, Fail to Protect Privacy

DronePrivacy matters. Giving consumers control of their personal information is central to many pieces of good legislation in California. Unfortunately, SB142 (Jackson) – which is intended to provide privacy protections related to small, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – will instead stifle innovation without providing real privacy protections. AB856 (Calderon), on the other hand, does afford meaningful privacy protections. The juxtaposition between these two bills, both of which are currently on Governor Brown’s desk, is clear. A veto of SB142 paired with a signing of AB856 demonstrates a willingness to stand against hollow messaging legislation while supporting meaningful protections of privacy.

If an irresponsible operator spies on your family by flying a small UAV in his or her own yard, you have no recourse under SB142. However, if a delivery drone with no recording mechanism flies over your property without your express permission to deliver a package of medical supplies to your neighbor, SB142 considers it an invasion of privacy. If this doesn’t make sense to you from a privacy perspective, you are right. SB142 doesn’t address behaviors that constitute privacy breaches – it creates arbitrary guidelines, including a 350 foot altitude limit that is inconsistent with limits set by the Federal Aviation Administration, that are impractical and unworkable.

Ironically, the author explains, “When we’re in our backyards, with our families, we have an expectation that we have a right to privacy.” SB142 simply doesn’t ensure that is the case. Instead, it restricts UAVs that pose no threat to privacy and provides no recourse if an operator were actually spying on you.

According to the Assembly Judiciary Committee synopsis, SB142 “establishes a new and unusual definition of trespass.” Even if done so unintentionally, legislation that creates new definitions and standards of harm that allow for more litigation should be reconsidered so that California businesses are not subject to repeated frivolous, yet costly, lawsuits.

As an alternative to SB142, AB856 addresses privacy in a straightforward manner by creating a right of action against anyone who uses a UAV to take images (still photos or video) of a person engaging in personal, familial, or private activities on his or her property. By tailoring the offense to this conduct, AB856 is at the core of what the right to privacy is all about.

Privacy protection is worthy goal, but SB142 is unfortunately a step in the wrong direction. Governor Brown should veto SB142 and sign into law AB856.

Executive Director of the Small UAV Coalition

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

California bill would close ‘insidious’ wage gap between men and women

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

A pay equity bill expected to pass the California Assembly this afternoon would strengthen existing laws and “close that insidious wage gap” between men and women, a bipartisan group of women legislators said Monday.

If passed and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, it would be the toughest equal pay law in the country and become what supporters hope will be a model for the rest of the country, said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and author of SB358, the California Fair Pay Act.

The bill, supported by Republicans as well as the Chamber of Commerce, ensures that women are paid equally for work that is substantially similar to the work of their male colleagues. It also requires that women do not face retaliation if they discuss or ask how much their male colleagues are paid. …

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