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.

As legislators passed bills in marathon sessions this week, Gov. Jerry Brown played some whiffle ball. (Governor’s Press Office)

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.

  • willcommentforfood

    I’d just like to comment about the last caller recorded on this segment, the one who said he and his girlfriend are so unhappy with “gridlock” and the legislature not doing anything much of anything except raising his taxes, that they are considering leaving the state. Yes, PLEASE LEAVE, we need less ugly people like you, ignorant slobs who spout off RW talk radio talking points, claim to be moderates but are right wingers through and through. We need less of you for sure, it’s people like you who vote for the Republicans who invented gridlock. Thanks to the Republicans finally having less than a 3d of the leg, we’ve been able to balance the budget, and do a whole slew of needed problem solving like health care, fracking regulations, and many other items mentioned in this and the other segments. Please leave, caller, you can go to Arizona or Nevada, where your ‘position’ is dominant. Go away, leave, and don’t let the door slam your head on the way out, because I’ll sure be slamming it. We need as few clowns like you as possible. Be gone from us, and go live in the good ol’ boy network red states, where your votes aren’t counted, turnout is suppressed and rich folks con ugly people like you into a terrible quality of life. Just go away forever.


Scott Detrow

Sacramento bureau chief Scott Detrow covers state government, politics and policy for KQED News and its statewide news program, The California Report.

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