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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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Oil and gas fracking is bad juju all around. Tap water that can turn into blue flame with a flick of a lighter? Are you fracking kidding? Anti-fracking forces are finding a home in Sacramento, where Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno, Democratic senators both, have offered a bill that would put a moratorium on the extraction practice, which, if you've been living under the Monterey Shale, uses vast amounts of fresh water on the way to marginally reducing the price of energy. Then there's that whole bit where fracking has caused earthquakes in Oklahoma. Nothing to worry about here . . . pffft. (SB 1132)

'Paid sick leave" sounds like a basic right that any worker should enjoy. Not so. Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, has a bill that compels employers to offer at least three days of paid leave for workers. By way of pushing back on the job-killing howls of opposition coming from the likes of the California Chamber of Commerce, Gonzalez says on her website that "providing employees with paid sick leave could reduce healthcare costs by allowing workers and their family members time to visit a primary care physician to address an illness rather than rushing to an emergency room to seek care due to their fear of missing work." (AB 1522)

Quick, what do you think is the most California-centric of all the "awareness weeks" on a vast roster that includes the Armenian Genocide and colorectal research? Oh, come now: it's Compost Awareness Week, May 5–11!

Reverse mortgages can provide a chunk of cash to seniors, but the industry is growing faster than regulators can keep up, with vulture lenders circling in the post-subprime crash to push offers on seniors that sound great until you read fine print loaded with fees and other weird charges. The state is getting tough by putting in protections such as those offered in Riverside Democratic Assembly Member Jose Medina's bill, which would "prohibit a lender from taking a reverse mortgage application or assessing any fees" until a week or more after a prospective reverse-mortgage applicant has come forward. It puts some much-needed brakes on a juggernaut that's already seen more than a few buyer-beware stories. (AB 1700)

Sugary drinks are one of those "nanny state" issues that folks like Sarah Palin like to tout out when they need a whip-dog for their anti-government hysteria, itself grounded in a fantastical vision of apocalyptic Ayn Randian selfishness whereby "Don't Tread on Me" extends to your right to a pair of wrecked kidneys. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg piqued the pituitary gland of the Palin hordes when he banned the sale of massive vats of sugar-laden drinks, on the grounds that the medical costs associated with high-fructose fizzie bevs wind up at the doorstep of taxpayers. A bill offered by Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, would slap a label on sugary drinks warning of obesity and a host of unpleasant diseases. Everything in moderation—with an emphasis on the moderation, a concept lost on nanny-state hysterics. (SB 100)

'Trafficking in Humans" spans a range of human behaviors under the state penal code, some more odious than others. Among other new penalties related to child sex-trafficking, an amendment to the code stiffens penalties for solicitation of prostitution by tossing a would-be john in the county lockup for at least two days. The bill is sponsored by a trio of senators, Ted Lieu, Jerry Hill and Holly Mitchell, Democrats all. (SB 1388)

'Unsafe handgun" is either an oxymoron or a redundancy, depending on your view of the Second Amendment. Assembly Member Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, tends toward the latter view—he added altered semiautomatic pistols and single-shot pistols to a state roster of "unsafe handguns" that can't be transferred between non-familial parties. The gun lobby is naturally not happy about this. (AB 1964)

Viva la Hermana Estado! California and the Mexican state of Jalisco enjoy a sister-state relationship that's been re-upped in a resolution offered by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego. Are you wondering how many Californians get deported from Jalisco each year? (SCR 82)

Winegrowers throughout California, rejoice! We're at the end of the state-sanctioned "Down to Earth" wine-celebrating month of April, where efforts are afoot to highlight the $61.5 billion industry. Speaking of your liver, April is also Alcohol Awareness Month, thanks to a resolution by Assembly Member Joan Buchanan, D-Livermore. (SCR 94, ACR 83)

X-rated filmmaking is a big industry in L.A., and, setting aside the feminist argument against porn, can we agree that it's not going anywhere? As such, we'd like our porn to be disease-free, thanks, and we'd like for actors in the industry to have worker-safety protections. Porn actors in L.A. already have to slip a jimmy, and if you want to open a porn studio in Petaluma, a bill from Assembly Member Isadore Hall, D-Compton, would extend the protection statewide. It would also require regular testing for STDs. (AB 1576)

You really thought we'd get through this list without working in a mention of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling? Well, check yourself before you wreck yourself. If you happen to see that dude skulking around at a game and feel compelled to give him a smack, Assembly Member Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, has offered a bill that fines violent fans up to $16,000. (AB 2457)

Zip lines and bars were singled out in a recent state auditor's report, when it was revealed that over $600,000 had been spent at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville on such frivolities, when the state has thousands of homeless vets on its streets. Assembly Member Yamada has offered a bill that would ramp up accountability for expenditures needing approval from the California Department of Veterans Affairs, with an emphasis on the outside-contracting services that led to the Yountville controversy. (AB 1580)

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