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Remember the internet sensation “Too Many Cooks”? It’s a parody of an intro to a cheesy ‘90s sitcom that ultimately drags on for more than 10 minutes, with the refrain “too many cooks!” going on endlessly.

I’ve found myself humming “Too many bills!” to that same refrain many times this week.

Friday is the last day Gov. Jerry Brown can make a decision on the hundreds of bills sent to him by the Legislature this year. All week, he’s been signing bills by the dozen.

There are too many to recap in full, but I’ve highlighted three broad categories many of the bills from San Diego lawmakers that got Brown’s stamp of approval seemed to fall in: those that address human trafficking, those that deal with criminal justice issues and those that have a uniquely San Diego twist.

Human Trafficking Bills

State lawmakers had human trafficking on the brain this latest legislative session – they introduced dozens of bills aimed at punishing traffickers and johns and bolstering services for victims.

This week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed off on many of those initiatives. He vetoed some, too.

Brown OK’d bills by San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and Sen. Marty Block – both are intended to give legal tools to victims.

Weber’s bill allows victims to use what’s called an “affirmative defense” – in certain cases, they can say that they were forced to commit crimes by their traffickers.

Block’s bill helps victims vacate charges from their records that were related to being trafficked.

“SB 823 is not a free pass. Victims would be required to provide clear and convincing evidence that any nonviolent convictions were the direct result of being trafficked,” Block said in a statement.

Block’s bill also highlighted the fact that many of the human trafficking bills offered this session overlapped and competed with one another. Brown vetoed a bill similar to Block’s measure, noting: “I signed SB 823 (Block), which accomplishes much the same intent as this bill, but creates a more balanced procedural approach in my view.”

A bill from Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez that separated the crime of prostitution from solicitation was vetoed for a similar reason – Brown said he thought another bill handled the issue better.

Also on the veto list: Assemblywoman Toni Atkins’ AB 1730, which would have created a pilot program that offered shelter and services to children who’ve been sexually exploited. Brown offered the same explanation he’s given for many of his vetoes: Since the program costs money, it should have been decided during budget talks.

Finally, Brown OK’d a bill from Sen. Ben Hueso that adds requirements for sex offenders who used the internet to facilitate crimes, including trafficking. On top of registering as a sex offender, they must register their “internet identifiers” – like email addresses and screen names.

Criminal Justice Bills

The San Diego delegation, led by Weber, also passed numerous measures aimed at criminal justice – specifically reducing the prison population and rehabilitating offenders. Those measures include:

Bills from Weber that reform the state’s troubled gang database, give judges the discretion in certain cases to use “restorative justice” in sentencing, restore voting rights for some convicted felons and eliminate the time restrictions for prisoners to petition for sentencing relief under Prop. 47.

A bill by Block lets probation departments use “flash incarceration” – brief prison stays up to 10 days – to hold offenders accountable with less disruption to work, home or treatment programs.

A bill by Gonzalez creates an avenue for people to challenge their convictions after they’ve served their sentence.

San Diego Grab Bag

San Diego lawmakers have different interests, but they tend to show some trends in the bills they write. Often they write bills to help veterans, for example. They also tend to write bills that help animals.

This year is no different – Brown signed Assemblywoman Marie Waldron’s bill to forbid the sale or transfer of animals from shelters to any animal dealer or research facility for testing or experimentation.

Brown signed a bill by San Diego Assemblywoman Toni Atkins that addresses an issue refugees in City Heights have been speaking out about for years: the need for more interpreters in hospitals. Atkins’ bill doesn’t direct any funding toward interpreters, though – it instructs the state to study the issue.

Another quintessentially San Diego law: Brown signed a bill from Assemblyman Brian Jones that lets homebrewers sample and share their beer creations at a licensed facility.

Vetoes

On top of the many, many new laws Brown ushered in this week, he also said no to quite a few, including some high-profile rejections of laws from San Diego lawmakers.

Perhaps the most notable was his rejection of a bill by Weber that would have created a new school accountability system. Many observers – from education reformers to newspaper editorial boards around the state – preferred Weber’s system to a new system adopted by the state Board of Education. But Brown said the board’s version is the one that will survive.

Brown also vetoed three more bills from Gonzalez, including the second bill of hers aimed at making diapers more affordable (he already vetoed an earlier diaper measure). The other two would have notified parents when their kids were designated as English-learners in school, and would have required bartenders to go through additional training. The latter was a result of a drunk driving crash that claimed the life of a UCSD student.

Gonzalez’s response:

An ode to my 4th & 5th bills vetoed this year. https://t.co/hr6zkhnq0j

— Lorena Gonzalez (@LorenaSGonzalez) September 28, 2016

Props to You, Voters

This week, we fleshed out two of the 17 statewide measures on your ballot.

Prop. 51

You won’t hear the word “stadium” in the arguments for Prop. 51, a statewide ballot measure that seeks to spend $9 billion in bonds on school construction projects.

But Prop. 51 could very well build stadiums up and down the state. Ashly McGlone looked at the language being used by Prop. 51 supporters and noticed it’s almost identical to what was used to urge San Diego voters to back Prop. Z, a local school construction bond. Many stadiums have been funded with Prop. Z money, and the state Legislative Analyst’s Office confirmed that Prop. 51 funds could be spent on stadiums.

• Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Assemblyman Brian Maienschein came together for an op-ed supporting Prop. 51 this week. The measure “will eliminate the current project backlog and help districts address critical renovations, build facilities to support career technical education programs, or build new schools where there is growth,” they write.

Prop. 58

To understand Prop. 58, you need to understand Prop. 227, which voters passed in 1998. It said that California classrooms must teach students “overwhelmingly in English.”

That’s become more and more of an issue as parents seek out programs that will help their students learn another language. “The most popular language programs in San Diego Unified turn away hundreds of parents each year,” writes Mario Koran.

That doesn’t mean all dual-language programs are great, but there does seem to be a demand that isn’t being met.

Prop. 58 would repeal most of Prop. 227. It wouldn’t require anything – your school wouldn’t suddenly become a dual-language school – but it would make those kinds of programs easier to open and maintain.

Golden State News

• One of the provisions in Prop. 66, the measure that seeks to speed up death row executions, would expand the pool of lawyers who can take death penalty appeals. Opponents say that simply wouldn’t be feasible – there aren’t enough lawyers to take on these cases, which don’t pay well and can require an enormous amount of time and effort. (Sac Bee)

• The editor of the University of California Press says one of its books, a history of the Black Panther movement, is now banned in California state prisons.

• California is cracking down on Wells Fargo. (NPR)

• California’s community college chancellor sees himself as a social justice warrior. (The Atlantic)

• Voting by mail is going to get much easier. (L.A. Times)

Sara Libby

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

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