Session concludes on August 31st. So the last half of this month has been very, very busy. The Senate is trying to vote on at least 50 bills per day, with 300 processed this week. My briefing packets are usually 1,500 pages for every morning’s Floor Session, the equivalent of 3 reams of photocopy paper. The volume has been immense. We have 300 more Assembly Bills to process.
Simultaneously, as bills get voted on in the Assembly, many are sent back to us to vote on the amendments. I’ve been told to expect 300 of them. One is described as the subject of the second piece below. Consequently, the next eight weekdays will be even busier.
In the middle of all this activity, like a Phoenix, another possible road repair bill arises. And, it does just about nothing to improve Caltrans and how it addresses the fiscal stewardship of building and maintaining the state’s roads. It just asks for more money. The proposal was introduced on Thursday, and The Bond Buyer provides its perspective in the first piece below (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Seven Solutions for Caltrans — August 15, 2016 august 15, 2016 john moorlach).
Many of my fellow Senators invite their colleagues to be co-authors on their bills. I did this with SB 813. The Highland Community News provides the details in the second piece below.
New Taxes, Fees Floated For California Roads
Sen. John Moorlach, R-Orange County, said he doesn’t want to see Californians taxed further and would prefer an overhaul of the state’s spending practices.
PHOENIX — Two California state lawmakers released a proposal they say would generate $7.4 billion annually for transportation, with $2.5 billion going directly to cities and counties.
The package, introduced by Sen. Jim Beall, a San Jose Democrat, and Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, would raise the new revenues with a combination of tax increases and fees designed to tackle California’s significantly underfunded transportation system. In a June 2016 proclamation convening an ongoing legislative special session, Gov. Jerry Brown cited $5.7 billion of annual unfunded road infrastructure repair requirements. Lawmakers have held hearings and introduced some legislation during that session, but taken little concrete action.
"This proposal represents, for the first time, a unified effort by the Assembly and Senate Democratic Caucuses to address the $78 billion unmet funding need for local streets and roads and $56 billion backlog to the state’s transportation infrastructure," the League of California Cities said in a release.
Among the new revenues would be a 17 cent per gallon increase to the gasoline excise tax, a 30 cent per gallon increase to the diesel excise tax, and a zero emission vehicle registration fee of $165 per year starting in the second year. The bill also contains a provision that would index all fees and taxes, including current gas taxes, for inflation every three years.
It contains some measures that Republicans opposing previous Democratic efforts to increase taxes have asked for in the past, including steps designed to improve accountability in spending and a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the use of transportation revenues for non-transportation spending.
But Sen. John Moorlach, R-Orange County, remained critical of the proposal and said lawmakers shouldn’t be looking to further tax Californians in an effort to throw money at the problem.
"The state is diagnosing what ails it, and their response is ‘we need more money,’" Moorlach told The Bond Buyer. "It’s just crazy."
Moorlach said that Californians are already among the most taxed Americans, and pointed the finger mainly at the California Department of Transportation, which he called "bloated and inefficient."
"We need to communicate that we are being efficient with our money," Moorlach said. "I’m just embarrassed for my colleagues that they would dare say we need to raise taxes."
While local groups including the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties have said repeatedly that the legislature needs to take action to responsibly fund the state’s infrastructure, Moorlachexpressed doubt that lawmakers would hold a vote on this proposal or any other before the Aug. 31 legislative deadline. While the special session can remain active after the close of the regular session, Moorlach said it was more likely that votes on a transportation measure would get pushed until next year.
A report issued this week by The Road Information Program found that 37% of California’s major roads are in poor condition.
“Justice for Victims Act” Passes Assembly
SB 813 Eliminates Statute of Limitations for Rape in California
SACRAMENTO – The California State Assembly today passed important bipartisan legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that would eliminate the statute of limitations for rape and related crimes in California. SB 813 aims to ensure justice for victims and survivors of felony sexual offenses by allowing the indefinite criminal prosecution of rape, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation, and sexual penetration.
Current California law generally limits the prosecution of a felony sexual offense to only 10 years after the offense is committed, unless DNA evidence is found which then offers a victim additional time. According to the United States Department of Justice, only two in 100 rapists will be convicted of a felony and spend any time in prison. The other 98 percent will never be punished for their crime.
“Ever since I first introduced SB 813 earlier this year, I have spoken to countless survivors of rape and sexual assault that have stepped forward and told me that this bill offers them hope that future rape victims will have the opportunity to seek justice in a court of law, even many years after the crime was originally committed,” Senator Leyva said. “At its core, SB 813 would help ensure that rapists and sexual predators do not evade legal consequences simply because the statute of limitations has expired. I thank my Assembly colleagues for supporting the ‘Justice for Victims Act’ and look forward to this vital bill moving forward as it approaches its final legislative hurdle in the Senate in the coming days before hopefully moving on to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.”
Principal coauthors Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), Assemblymember Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood), Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) and Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Carpinteria)—as well as coauthors Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine), Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte), Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego), Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside), Assemblymember Rocky J. Chávez (R-Oceanside) and Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale)—have signed on in support of SB 813.
The “Justice for Victims Act” is co-sponsored by San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos and the California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) and supported by California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, California District Attorneys Association, California Police Chiefs Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California, Crime Victims United of California, End Rape SOL, among others.
Following the Assembly’s approval of SB 813 earlier today, the “Justice for Victims Act” now advances to the Senate Floor for a final concurrence vote before proceeding to the Governor for consideration.
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