Calif. Lawmakers To Consider Thousands Of Bills

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Neighbors and law enforcement agencies would get advance notice when they are dealing with child molesters and sexually violent predators under two of the thousands of bills that will be considered this year by the California Legislature.

Lawmakers submitted more than 2,323 bills by Friday’s deadline. That’s roughly 19 bills for each of the 120 members of the Assembly and Senate.

Among them are four that grew out of the arrest last year of a paroled sex offender who later pleaded guilty to raping and murdering two teenage girls in San Diego County.

Two of the bills would apply only to those convicted of sex crimes against children or who are found to be sexually violent predators — “the worst of the worst,” said Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley.

One, AB885, would require that their driver’s licenses or identification cards carry a coded notation that could be read by law enforcement. A similar bill unanimously cleared the Assembly last year but died in a Senate committee, in part because of concerns over confidentiality and costs. Supporters said offenders could pay for the program through higher license fees.

The second, AB884, would require law enforcement to give written notice to neighbors living within 1,000 feet of a paroled molester within five days of the offender moving into the neighborhood. Nearby schools and daycare centers also would get notice.

“Knowing the threat is half the battle,” said, Maurice “Moe” Dubois, whose 14-year-old daughter, Amber, was one of the murdered teens.

John Gardner is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to killing Dubois and 17-year-old Chelsea King, whose was killed in February 2010. Dubois had been killed the year before, but her body was not discovered until after the King slaying.

“My only child had to suffer the worst possible thing that a child should have to face,” Maurice Dubois said during a Capitol news conference to discuss the four-bill package. “I don’t want anyone else’s family to go through this.”

Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, which represents defense lawyers, said they had not reviewed the bills and could not comment.

A third bill, AB883, was requested by the state Department of Justice. It would let the department consider the underlying facts of a case when deciding whether someone convicted in another state must register as a sex offender in California.

The fourth, AB886, would require judges to keep victim impact statements confidential until they are read aloud in court during a criminal’s sentencing hearing. Dubois’ written statement was published a day before Gardner’s sentencing hearing.

“My ability to tell this person how I felt was ripped away from me,” he said.

The statements are public records that should require a court hearing if a victim wants them kept from public view, said Tom Newton, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Moreover, restricting their disclosure would harm victims’ interests, he said.

“If you want to maximize the power of the statement, then let the media have it and do what it does,” Newton said.

Laws enacted last year, including one named after Chelsea King and three others sought by Dubois, increase penalties and supervision of sex offenders and speed up law enforcement’s response to missing persons reports.

Legislative committees will begin considering those and thousands of other bills in the coming weeks after lawmakers act on proposals to close the state’s $26.6 billion budget deficit through June 2012. Here is a look at some of the other bills:

— California would charge a tax of a penny per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages, with the projected $1.7 billion going to fight childhood obesity, under AB669 by Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Monterey. Critics at the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom countered that soft drinks make up less than 6 percent of the average person’s calories.

–Cities would have to give public notice twice before they award raises to city managers, consultants and other top employees under a bill sought by state state Controller John Chiang. AB582 by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, is responding to last year’s pay scandal in the Los Angeles County city of Bell.

–The controller’s office would have greater discretion to audit local governments under a second bill sought by Chiang after the Bell scandal. The controller currently can audit local governments’ handling of state and federal money. SB186 by Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, would expand the authority to include local taxes, bonds and other funds.

–Public colleges and universities would have to train employees to spot and prevent bullying and harassment of homosexual and transgender students and staff under AB620. The bill by Assemblyman Marty Block, D-San Diego, also would require the institutions to include a policy on harassment and intimidation in their student codes of conduct.

–California could join other West Coast states in limiting the number of crab pots in its coastal waters, among regulations to curb environmental and safety risks from the Dungeness crab fishing industry’s annual race to take as many catchable-size crabs as possible after the season opens in November.” SB369, by Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, is based on recommendations from a task force that included crab fishermen. It examined ways to protect the Dungeness population and ease competition from Oregon and Washington crabbers. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed two previous bills seeking trap limits.

–Smokers would lose some of the last remaining indoor locations where it is legal to inhale under SB575. The bill by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, would end exemptions that allow smoking in some areas of motel and hotel lobbies, meeting and banquet rooms, retail or wholesale tobacco shops, warehouses, break rooms and at businesses with five or fewer employees.

–California’s tobacco tax would increase another $1.50 per pack under a bill by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles. His SB330 proposes to spend the projected $1.2 billion on smoking prevention and cancer research efforts, with a portion going to help balance the state budget. He says the state’s current tax of 87 cents per pack is one of the nation’s lowest. Padilla’s SB331 would restrict tobacco sales within 600 feet of schools, and his SB332 would allow landlords to ban smoking in and around their rental properties.

— Sen. Alex Padilla wants to outlaw the sale of caffeinated beer beverages such as Four Loko, Joose and Tilt in California. Padilla, D-Los Angeles, says the drinks are popular with youths, and the caffeine masks the effects of the high alcohol content. California would join Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Utah and Washington in banning the drinks under SB39. Many of the companies have reformulated their products after criticism in recent months.

–Welfare recipients would be barred from using their Electronic Benefit Transfer cards to buy alcohol or tobacco under a bill by Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga. His SB417 responds to reports that the cards also were used to withdraw money at casinos, strip clubs and cruise ships. Recipients are prohibited from buying alcohol and tobacco with food stamp money, but there is no ban on using CalWORKS funds for the products.

–Employers would be required to give workers paid sick days under a bill by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco. Her AB400 requires businesses with 10 or fewer employees to provide five days of sick time annually, with nine days annually at larger businesses. Ma says nearly six million Californians, more than 20 percent, now get no paid sick days.

–Natural gas utilities would have to install automatic and remotely controlled shut-off valves on their pipelines under a bill responding to the deadly September explosion in San Bruno. The Pacific Gas & Electric Co. pipeline had only a manual shut-off valve. SB216 by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would require the new shut-off valves on pipelines that cross an active earthquake fault or populated areas.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. Markeltini says:

    Sex offenders should be hung by the neck until DEAD!!!

  2. Jim says:

    Consider a partnership with the Federal Government to exile criminals to a remote Island, such as ATTU Island, Alaska.

  3. Jim says:

    Welfare recipients would be barred from using their Electronic Benefit Transfer cards to buy alcohol or tobacco under a bill by Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga. His SB417 responds to reports that the cards also were used to withdraw money at casinos, strip clubs and cruise ships. Recipients are prohibited from buying alcohol and tobacco with food stamp money, but there is no ban on using CalWORKS funds for the products.

    This needs a huge audit. Exactly who is getting these cards. How many are fictional!

  4. scott says:

    a penny an ounce on drinks containing sugar, wow honestly think about how many drinks you have per day in ounces and multiply that by 365 days and then multiply that by californias population

  5. Rebecca says:

    Instead of adding costs to sugared beverages that cause obesity in children,
    why not impose a fine on the parents who are the ones responsible for obesity in their children. I am sick and tired of the government controlling the lives/heath/brains of the American citizens. The people who are being responsible about their sugar intake are also being penalized for the actions of parents who don’t control their children. The fact is the governments are using any valid or invalid means of taking money from the middle class hard working people to bail out irresponsible actions of others. Those of use who have already lost our retirement livelihood due to greed and condoned irresponsible acts of others need to be heard!

    1. Kuo Liang Yu says:

      Rebecca – Whether you add a tax onto soda or fine the responsible parents, the government would be accused of controlling behavior. No real difference.

      But the government is already controlling people’s behavior. The government dictates how you drive, seat belts, bike helmets, smoke cigarets, how you advertise, how truthful you must be in selling cars and houses, where you park your cars, etc.

      In truth, obesity is a societal problem. It is caused by the common acceptance of excess food intake, of accepting grease-laden foods, of catering to our children’s whims and whining. The effects are also societal. We pay more for insurance costs, medical costs, gasoline for transporting all that extra weight, excess waste cellophane, etc.

  6. scott says:

    I added it up and if the average person drinks around 50 ounces a day yearly that would add up to roughly 6.7 billion per year for the state and they estimated only 1.7 per year wonder where the rest of the money would go

  7. Kuo Liang Yu says:

    I heartily approve of the penny per ounce tax on sodas. The Center for Consumer Freedom is being disingenuous about their claim that sodas make up only 6% of the average person’s diet.

    That would be true if you divide the total amount of soda by the number of the entire population. However, many people, including my wife and me, almost NEVER touch soda.

    The National Soft Drink Association publishes that the average person consumes 56.25 GALLONS of soda annually. That means that the average person consumes 90,400 useless calories per year. Again, that would be true when divided over the entire population.

    Average means that some people drink far less and some drink far more. So the heavy drinkers probably consume 100,000 to 150,000 more calories per year. That is about 2 months worth of extra food. That is a LOT of calories

    1. scott says:

      but notice they did not say soda but drinks with added sugar I also appove of the tax but was just pointing out that their estimate of 1.7 billion was really low if they are indeed charging for all drinks

    2. Georgiepoorgiepuddingpie says:

      Kuo, this is not china, we dont need the government regulating our drink intake regardless of what kind of drink iit is. This is another political ploy or scam if you will under the guise of wellness to fill their coffers with taxpayers money period. Wise up.

  8. old fart says:

    Cut foreign aid by 100% some of the countrys we give money to lend it back to us and charge intrest stop laughing its true

  9. Guitar Rick says:

    I think the lowest life forms in existence are child molesters, murderers and rapist. Instead of spending my tax money on feeding, clothing, providing living quarters time and money for legislation to be passed about them we should put them where they should ve been in the first place. The ground.

  10. billie aldridge says:

    and the crooks in sacramento only put forth 2300+ bills!

  11. Dawgegon says:

    The legislature should be allowed three weeks per year to conduct business, and only after they have constructed and passed a BALANCED BUDGET with no increases in taxes. There is no reason for a full-time, boozing, partying, run-amok legislature like California’s. Geez!

  12. Bradley Winchell says:

    2323 Bills???????????? Even though some of these bills have merit, how about enforcing the bills you allready have on the books? This is the problem! To many laws and red tape. As for child molesters; Life in prison is a fair exchange or death.

  13. Mike says:

    More proof California needs a part time legislature.

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