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The People's Business

An A-to-Z guide to what our legislators have been up to in Sacramento

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Following their springtime Easter break, Sacramento lawmakers headed back to the capital city faced with an enormous number of bills to consider—around 1,900 at last count. The Bohemian thought it would be instructive to take a spin through the offerings now making their way through the legislative process, and highlight an A-to-Z sampling of what's currently under consideration, with an emphasis on proposals of especial concern to the North Bay. Stay tuned to the Bohemian in coming weeks, as we'll be following the progress of these bills, and any other that you'd like to contact us about.

Abalone and other shellfish harvesting is a key and beloved California industry, and Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro, D-Santa Rosa, has introduced a joint resolution that aims to enhance state efforts at building a commercial aquaculture infrastructure—even as the fate of our local Drakes Bay Oyster Company seems sealed. Chesbro offers support for a clean, healthy marine environment that protects shellfish beds and provides "access to additional acreage for shellfish farming and restoration." It also pushes for greater cooperation among industry, environmental, and federal and state officials to develop a permitting process that's "efficient and economical for both shellfish restoration and commercial farming." The resolution won't do much to help Drakes Bay stay in business, but it sets the stage for future growth in the industry. (AJR-43)

Bicycle taxes sound like yet another way for Big Government to squeeze pennies from people just trying to make the earth a greener space by pedaling to the corner deli instead of firing up the Escalade. But there's a fine public-policy rationale behind Concord Democratic senator Mark DeSaulnier's proposal, which would open the door to localities to slap a point of sale tax on adult bicycle sales and use the money to fund and maintain bike trails. (SB 1183)

Campaign finance reform is one of those pro-Democracy conceits that the U.S. Supreme Court has thrown under the bus, favoring a money-is-speech approach to financing elections that favors deep pockets over empty ones. Citizens United gave undue power to corporations' ability to influence elections, and the recent McCutcheon ruling dispensed with limits on how much cash Daddy Warbucks or his underworld Corporate Campaign Cabal can throw at a candidate. Growing public outrage over these supremely undemocratic moves is reflected in Assembly Member Bob Wieckowski's House Resolution 37, which puts fellow lawmakers on the spot by asking that they support his resolution, which proposes the notion that Democracy is by, for and of the People. Radical thought, that. (HR 37)

Dogs in outdoor restaurants, aka the "Fido Alfresco bill," would undo a state ban on bringing your beast into any part of a restaurant, including the outdoor dining area. That seemed a little extreme, no? Well, it's a health-code deal, and you know how those people are, always counting bugs and stuff in the kitchen. But dogs are wagging their tails over the bill, offered by Assembly Member Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, which leaves it to localities to make their own rules for pets in alfresco settings. Cats are livid at the slight, but fear not, felines, we've got the American Cat Liberties Union on line one. Ferrets, we're not so sure about you guys. (AB 1965)

Electric cars are coming just as fast as you can say "Get a horse, eco-freako," but there are a whole host of logistical issues dogging the industry's ascent, not the least of which are Big Oil efforts to stymie electric wheels in the name of the Global Death March of Oligarchic Delights. But let's say you have an electric car and are moving into a new apartment. Congrats. Your landlord, he's a Tea Party lad who thinks it's his patriotic duty to resist befouling the world with those horridly quiet little machines of green. He's even got a militia, fresh from the Bundy ranch. Well, too bad. A proposed bill from Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, would require your landlord to work with you, the tenant, to establish an on-site charging station in the apartment complex. The catch is, tenants foot the bill. (AB 2565)

'Fish" is one of those words you used to see on the restaurant menu, and you'd say, "I'll have the fish." What kind of fish? Didn't matter, you were ordering the fish. Restaurants are a lot more specific these days, but Big Grocery has a bad habit of mislabeling the monkfish—or did. Public awareness of the rampant mislabeling of fish comes courtesy of a 2013 report by Oceana and led to a push by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, to mandate accurate labeling of the fish at your grocer's. There are all sorts of fish out there, some tastier than others – and some more endangered or otherwise overfished than others.

GMO labeling isn't just something that's being promoted on your bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap. California voters rejected a 2012 push, Proposition 37, to require the labeling of genetically modified O's, thanks for that, Big Ag. Now Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, has taken up the call with another proposed GMO-labeling law. (SB 1381)

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