Immigration. Prison overcrowding. Hydraulic fracturing. The minimum wage. Those were just some of the major issues California lawmakers tackled during a frantic week of legislating in Sacramento.
The 2013 legislative session closed with a bang—more than 400 bills were sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk this week alone.
(Maybe that’s why the governor got some whiffle ball action in yesterday—he’ll be too busy signing and vetoing bills the rest of the month to play.)
Among the high-profile bills sent to Brown: a measure creating driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants; a bill increasing the minimum wage from $8 to $10; legislation regulating fracking; a bill that would transition the state’s schools to a new system of testing.
Brown’s public endorsements of three of those bills (on driver’s licenses, fracking, and the minimum wage), plus his opposition to a resolution renaming the Bay Bridge for former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, illustrated how involved the governor was in wrangling votes this week. (When he wasn’t playing whiffle ball, that is.)
Much has been made this year of how Democrats would use their huge majorities in both houses of the Legislature. The Senate and Assembly didn’t push through any tax increases this session, but Democrats did pass a slew of bills helping undocumented immigrants.
In addition to the driver’s license measure, bills on Brown’s desk would allow undocumented immigrants to serve on juries and practice law. Another measure prohibits police from turning undocumented immigrants over to federal authorities unless the immigrants already have a violent felony on their record.
The Legislature passed those bills at a time when immigration reform is deadlocked on the federal level. Another area where California is more aggressive than Congress: gun control.
President Obama’s efforts to tighten federal firearms laws went nowhere this year, but California lawmakers sent several gun-control bills to the governor. This during a week when two Colorado state senators were recalled for voting for gun laws in a state that has experienced two infamous mass shootings.
Visit KQED’s State of Health blog to learn about some of the health-related bills that advanced to the governor’s desk.
Listen to an analysis of the legislative session from KQED’s Forum.
And here’s more analysis from KQED’s “This Week in Northern California.”