Once again, the nation’s progressives are focused on a bill written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.

As the California Legislature weighed in on a flurry of bills to close out the session this week, the most high-profile decision was whether to extend overtime provisions to farm laborers. It passed.

The bill lets farmworkers earn overtime pay after surpassing an eight-hour workday, and establishes a 40-hour workweek – provisions that already govern all kinds of workers across the state.

Gonzalez’s first attempt at the measure failed earlier this summer, but she tried again by gutting an existing bill and replacing it with new farmworker overtime language.

Lawmakers often take second – or even third, or fourth – shots at legislation if it’s something they’re invested in.

“I … have no shame,” Gonzalez told us earlier this year of reviving bills after they’ve failed. “If I really believe in something, I’m going to give people a second shot to think about it.”

The second effort was buoyed by support efforts from laborers, unions and religious leaders, including a 24-hour fast that a handful of other lawmakers joined.

Within the San Diego delegation, the vote on the overtime bill split down party lines. In addition to Gonzalez, Democratic Assemblywomen Shirley Weber and Toni Atkins voted for the bill; Republican Assemblymen Brian Jones, Rocky Chavez and Brian Maienschein and Assemblywoman Marie Waldron all voted against it.

.@AsmRocky says he has agg in his district, grew up in the business: This is not just about economics, but how this bill will hurt community

— Jazmine Ulloa (@jazmineulloa) August 29, 2016

The bill highlighted a divide between lawmakers from urban districts and those who represent rural areas, noted the Sacramento Bee:

Lawmakers representing more rural or suburban parts of the Central Valley, Republican and Democrat alike, voted against Assembly Bill 1066. They were joined in opposition by Republican lawmakers from suburban GOP-friendly seats in coastal Southern California.

Democrats from the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County overwhelmingly supported the bill, as did some Democrats from more inland districts, such as Assembly members Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, and Jose Medina, D-Riverside. Assemblyman Eric Linder, R-Corona, was the sole Republican to back the measure.

Now the decision rests with Gov. Jerry Brown. His predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, vetoed a similar measure.

If Brown does veto, he’ll be going against some very big-name Democrats who have spoken in favor of the measure, including Hillary Clinton and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

You’re Gonna Miss These Extensive Local Bill Roundups When They’re Gone

Call the end of session what you will. Billsplosion. Lawvalanche. Legihustle. There are a lot of bills, is what I’m saying. These are some of the notable bills from local lawmakers that passed this week, but this is by no means a complete list.

AB 635 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins requires the Department of Health Care Services to study how best to provide medical interpretation services for Medi-Cal patients with limited English proficiency. Refugees in City Heights have led the fight on this issue for the last several years.

AB 1795 by Atkins closes coverage gaps for cancer screenings.

AB 2728 by Atkins extends the California Investment Network tax credit, a program that invests in community revitalization.

AB 492 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez provides a monthly $50 diaper voucher to parents in the CalWORKs welfare-to-work program, beginning in 2020.

AB 491 by Gonzalez would require more robust notifications for parents whose children are classified as English-learners in school.

AB 1708 by Gonzalez requires stiffer penalties for the purchasers of sex, and treats the purchasing and selling of sex as different crimes.

AB 873 by Assemblyman Brian Jones and Assemblywoman Marie Waldron requires the Bureau of Automotive Repair to define minor car repairs that can be performed without registration.

AB 2499 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein would set up a process to let rape victims track the status of their rape kits.

AB 1739 by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron allows Medi-Cal patients receive allergy blood tests from their primary care doctors, instead of having to be referred to a specialist.

AB 1761 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber lets human trafficking victims present an affirmative defense in court – arguing their circumstances justified their actions.

AB 2548 by Weber requires the state to adopt an accountability system for schools.

AB 2298 by Weber includes several reforms to the state’s troubled gang database, including a provision that those entered into the database be notified and allowed to contest the designation.

SB 1333 by Sen. Marty Block would ban smoking or disposal of tobacco products at state beaches and parks.

SB 1074 by Sen. Ben Hueso allocates money to certain projects that recover beneficial minerals from highly mineralized geothermal brines. The bill could help the Salton Sea, among other areas, and “has the potential to help commercialize domestic mineral mining from geothermal brine, which will produce lithium and manganese dioxide necessary for electric battery manufacturing, thereby transforming an economic cost into an economic benefit,” according to Hueso’s office.

• KQED has a good roundup of some of the other big-impact items that passed this week.

Brown Says No to Pro Bono Rule

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed Sen. Marty Block’s bill requiring new lawyers to perform 50 hours of pro bono service before they could be admitted to the California Bar. In his veto message, Brown expressed concern for law students who are struggling financially.

Interestingly, when I spoke with law professors around California, they all expressed total confidence that the measure wouldn’t overburden students. Plus, the measure had a provision that allowed students to get paid even for pro bono work.

No One Solved the Housing Crisis

Despite the long list of bills the Legislature did pass this year, lawmakers still left some major work unfinished.

The East Bay Times notes:

The Legislature can’t agree on how to pay for billions of dollars in desperately needed road repairs, nor can it compromise on an affordable housing plan that would help Californians cope with soaring home prices. … And while elected officials squabble, California residents are struggling to keep roofs over their families’ heads and not spend a huge portion of their income on housing.

And, in the absence of any clear directives from the state, the local attempts at curbing development keep flourishing. The latest is a Los Angeles ballot measure pegged for March 2017 that would “drastically limit development,” according to LA Weekly.

As Maya Srikrishnan has pointed out, similar attempts to restrict any new building are happening up and down the state – even as the housing crisis grows more dire.

Another piece this week argues that we won’t make any real progress on housing affordability without changing Prop. 13 – which seems nearly impossible.

Golden State News

 How California’s new climate law works. (Vox)

 The state’s zero-emission vehicle program is stuck in neutral. (Reuters)

• Slate is not impressed with California’s declaration that denim is our state fabric.

• This excellent piece really nails many of the tensions over neighborhood schools, segregation and inequality that cities like San Diego are dealing with. (KQED)

A Song for Atkins

I just love this video of Assemblywoman Toni Atkins’ colleagues giving her a gospel sendoff to mark her last days in the Assembly. (Atkins won’t go far, she’s likely headed to the state Senate.)

Sara Libby

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

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