06/02/2011, by Melanie Nathan,
SACRAMENTO – Eleven bills authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) – the openly gay California State Senator from San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma Counties- passed the Senate this week and will proceed to the Assembly. The measures include legislation that allows farmers in California to cultivate hemp, a bill that protects the privacy of personal information on cell phones when a suspect is arrested and a measure that takes firearms out of the hands of Californians who are prohibited from possessing them.
“I am pleased that my colleagues in the Senate have supported these bills, which impact Californians across the state. “Our bills this year are important to consumers, seniors, family farmers, entrepreneurs and small businesses, patients, low-income families and LGBT people. I am optimistic that they will continue to receive strong support in the Assembly and proceed to the governor’s desk.”
Who could be more deserving of a 2012 re-election ? See Sen. Leno’s Campaign site at http://www.markleno.com/
The bills passed by the Senate this week include:
SB 32 (Small Business Regulation Reform) – SB 32 modernizes the state’s outdated alcoholic beverage law to permit the innovative, artisanal practice by bars and restaurants of creating “infusions.” Infused cocktails, which are made by flavoring alcohol with fruits, vegetables, herbs or spices, have become increasingly popular throughout the state.
SB 223 (Voter-Approved Local Assessment: Vehicles) – SB 223 authorizes counties to raise funds for critical public health and safety programs through a voter-approved local assessment (VALA). It ensures accountability to voters by requiring a two-thirds majority vote of the County Board of Supervisors and a majority vote in the county election for implementation.
SB 651 (Domestic Partnership Equality Act) – SB 651 eliminates an inequity that exists between marriage and domestic partnerships by eliminating the requirement that both partners share the same residence as a condition to establish a domestic partnership. By maintaining different requirements for domestic partners and married couples, California law is currently inconsistent with the state Supreme Court’s ruling that all couples in domestic partnerships be treated equally.
SB 676 (California Industrial Hemp Farming Act) – SB 676 enables California farmers to tap into the $400 million U.S. hemp products market, which currently relies on the international importation of raw and processed hemp, by ending the current ban on cultivating this versatile and environmentally friendly crop. Industrial hemp is a non-psychoactive variety of the cannabis plant that is physically distinct from marijuana and is used in the manufacturing of a wide variety of products including automotive parts, fiber board, paper, textiles, healthy foods, and body care products.
SB 705 (Gas Pipeline Safety Act) – In the wake of the San Bruno explosion and other deadly utility disasters, SB 705 declares that safety must be a utility’s absolute first priority as a matter of state policy. The bill authorizes additional revenue to increase staffing levels for safety-related activities, while at the same time giving assurances to consumers that these funds will actually be spent for safety.
SB 790 (Community Choice Aggregation) – SB 790 helps communities that want to manage their own electricity procurement and generation needs through the state’s existing Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program by removing unnecessary burdens and undue constraints in the existing process. By enabling local governments to serve the power needs of residents and businesses, CCAs can help deliver numerous benefits, including greenhouse gas reduction, consumer energy choice, job creation, local economic development, and increased use of renewable power.
SB 819 (Armed Prohibited Persons) – SB 819 makes our communities safer by helping to remove firearms from individuals who are prohibited from possessing them due to certain disqualifying conditions, such as a felony conviction or mental illness. By granting greater authority to use existing resources, this bill also enables the Department of Justice to improve California’s Armed Prohibited Persons System, which identifies individuals who are no longer permitted to own a firearm.
SB 826 (Workers’ Compensation Compliance) – SB 826 helps improve the state’s workers’ compensation system for both businesses and injured workers by enabling the Department of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) to improve compliance with existing requirements. It grants limited enforcement authority to the DWC for the non-compliance of data reporting requirements, which helps businesses that play by the rules and ensures that injured workers receive proper and timely workers’ compensation coverage.
SB 850 (Electronic Health Records) – SB 850 improves the standards for accuracy and integrity of electronic health records. Although federal healthcare reform requires the use of electronic medical records, federal regulations are insufficient to ensure accurate recordkeeping that is essential for better patient outcomes.
SB 897 (RCFE Residents Foreclosure Protection Act) – SB 897 protects elderly residents living in Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) from the physical and emotional upheaval that results from unexpected and abrupt foreclosures. Under this bill, California’s 8,000 RCFEs must provide timely notification to residents, their legal representatives, and the state should the facility fall into severe financial distress or foreclosure, thereby preventing the forced eviction of vulnerable RCFE residents through no fault of their own.
SB 914 (Mobile Device Privacy) – SB 914 increases privacy protections for Californians by reversing a controversial California Supreme Court decision holding that police officers may lawfully search mobile phones found on an arrested individual’s person without first obtaining a search warrant. Under SB 914, warrantless searches of personal files and data found on an arrestee’s portable electronic device will be strictly prohibited, with exceptions to protect officer safety and prevent the destruction of evidence.
For more information about legislation authored by Senator Leno, visit www.senate.ca.gov/leno.