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Lawmakers, like journalists, tend to put their work off until a deadline.

This week was no exception, as Sacramento rushed to beat this week’s house of origin deadline. June 5 is the last day to send most Assembly bills to the Senate. Vice-versa for Senate bills. That meant marathon sessions this week with votes on hundreds of bills.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who is proving to be one of the Legislature’s most effective members, passed 19 bills to the Senate – with one bill already on its way to the governor’s desk. It’d take most Republican lawmakers a full 12-year career to pass that many bills out of the Assembly.

Nevertheless, Gonzalez was displeased that her “personal favorite” was left on the cutting room floor. AB 67 would have required employers to pay at least double time to their employees on Thanksgiving. To help sell the bill, the San Diego Democrat and her staff delivered 54 pumpkin pies to legislative offices Thursday.

“My Mom always told me, if you’re going to go down – go down swinging. #AB67,” Gonzalez tweeted shortly after the vote.

She’ll have to take consolation in advancing bills to recognize cheerleading as a sport, require utility companies to justify executive bonuses, automatically register voters through the DMV and protect immigrants from fraudsters.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins posted an equally impressive legislative performance with her bill package. Among the dozen Atkins bills passed this week were:

• AB 96 to ban the importation or sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn within the state

• AB 437 to allow small businesses to cash out a portion of tax credits to use the money for research and development

• AB 1056 to make it easier for former inmates to get housing and treatment, in order to reduce recidivism

In the upper house, senators approved bills to legalize assisted suicide for terminally ill patients and expand the state’s paid family leave act to more small businesses.

A few other highlights from the local delegation that passed their respective houses:

• A bill by Sen. Ben Hueso that would create a committee to advise state agencies on implementing clean energy policies

• A bill by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein that would impose harsher sentences on human trafficking that happens near a school

• A bill by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber to expand sex ed curriculum

Speaker Stalls in Passing ‘the Big One’

One bill that wasn’t subject to the house-of-origin deadline was Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins’ proposal to fund affordable housing through a new $75 fee on real estate recording documents. Atkins tried unsuccessfully to get the necessary two-thirds vote for “the big one” during this week’s flurry of bill activity.

“There’s plenty of time to get it out of the Assembly,” said Atkins’ communications consultant, Dave Rolland. “In time, enough members will know that AB 1335 is a smart way to raise funding to help solve California’s affordable-housing crisis.”

To speed up that education, the speaker called GOP lawmakers into her office for one-on-one tutoring sessions. Atkins will need at least two GOP votes to pass the bill, assuming she holds her entire caucus.

Assemblyman Devon Mathis, a Central Valley Republican, abstained on a vote over amendments to the bill, an indication that he’s a swing vote.  After Mathis, the short list of GOP votes includes Katcho Achadjian of San Luis Obispo, Marc Steinorth of Rancho Cucamonga and Brian Maienschein of San Diego.

Adding to speculation, Mathis successfully passed drought legislation, Assembly Bill 954, off the Assembly floor, a feat that required Atkins’ blessing.

“There was no deal for AB 954,” said Sean Doherty, Mathis’ chief of staff. Doherty refused to comment on Mathis’ stance on the controversial affordable housing bill.

State Might Beat San Diego to the Punch on Minimum Wage

The state Senate gave its stamp of approval to measure that would raise the statewide minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2017.

It’s still got some hurdles to clear, but if it ultimately goes through, it would render meaningless a parallel fight in San Diego to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017, Scott Lewis pointed out:

State Sen. Mark Leno’s bill would make the minimum wage $11 per hour next year throughout California and $13 an hour by 2019. Then it would index the minimum wage after that to inflation.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, from San Diego, is a co-author.

On Twitter, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins’ communications consultant, Dave Rolland, said the speaker hasn’t taken a position on Leno’s bill. But “In March, [Atkins] said full-timers shouldn’t live in poverty, and at that time, she put the needed wage at $13.70.”

That’s a pretty strong indication $13 has a chance.

Schwarzenegger’s Move in San Diego Murder Case ‘Grossly Unjust’

An appeals court judge this week found that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger acted legally when he drastically reduced the prison sentence of the son of his pal, former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez.

Esteban Nunez and his friends were responsible for the stabbing death of a Mesa College student near the SDSU campus in 2008. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison, but Schwarzenegger slashed that to seven years without notifying San Diego law enforcement or the victim’s family.

The judge this week said that even though Schwarzenegger’s move wasn’t illegal, it could be considered “deserving of censure and grossly unjust,” according to the Sacramento Bee.

For more background on the case and the deal to free Nunez, see the L.A. Times’ excellent two-part investigation from late last year, here and here.

Hueso Arrest Prompts Senate to Hire Drivers

The state Senate shells out money for two part-time employees to give rides to drunk lawmakers, the Sacramento Bee discovered.

The hires come after high-profile DUI arrests of state legislators, most notably San Diego Sen. Ben Hueso last August.

The Union-Tribune editorial board was downright giddy after the report dropped that it got to trot out the phrase “DUI nannies.”

Golden State News

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez made the news this week in northwestern Arkansas. The founder of a new center there to help Hispanics cites Chavez as her hero: “She saw how Chavez helped so many people even though he was just one person. Over the years as she moved to Alabama and then Arkansas, she volunteered with different groups and believed they didn’t do as much as they could.”

 Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed have teamed up on a ballot proposal that “would require voter approval for any defined benefit for new hires and pension increases for existing workers,” according to the AP. They’re hoping to gather enough signatures to make the 2016 ballot.

 State Sen. Joel Anderson got emotional discussing a bill to allow physician-assisted suicide. He choked back tears and said he went through a period in which he contemplated suicide himself, but he still opposed the bill: ““I don’t want to strip people of hope. I don’t want to pile on the guilt they feel to fight for their lives. I don’t want to pray on their good nature. … Let’s not sponsor death on this floor.” The bill cleared the state Senate. (Daily Democrat)

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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