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Bob Huff

What to Watch For In the Final Week of Session

“Whatever Labor wants, Labor gets.”

That’s an actual quote from my colleague Senator Leland Yee of San Francisco during a recent labor rally.  It sums up what Flash Report readers should expect over the next four days before the Legislature adjourns for the year.

Senate GOP Leader Bob Huff

There are approximately 400 bills left – some may be held over until next year, but we’ll be working late this week to consider most of them.  Big labor, anti-public safety advocates and trial lawyers are counting on the ruling party to do their bidding this week.  Taxpayers, small business owners and working families have the most to lose.  Here’s what to keep an eye on, and yes they’re all authored by Democrats:

SB 25 by Senator Steinberg makes it easier for unions to force an employer to adopt a collective bargaining agreement.  It’s a “surgical strike” against the agricultural industry. Some farm owners have said this bill could destroy their business, cost thousands of farmworker jobs and force hundreds of California farmers to shut down.  The ruling party wants to make it more difficult for agriculture to operate in California, which will drive up the cost of produce for working families.

AB 241 by Assembly Member Ammiano extends employee rights to domestic workers. It includes mandatory rest and meal breaks and gives these workers the ability to sue for damages.  The Governor wisely vetoed this bill last year but it’s back again.  The only winners are Big Labor, who could tap into a new pool of potential union members, and the trial lawyers who see unlimited lawsuit opportunities.

AB 641 by Assembly Member Rendon allows child care providers, including unlicensed providers, to unionize. Big Labor doesn’t care if this policy drives up the cost of the program to taxpayers — which reduces the number of children getting tax-subsidized child care – as long as they get more new unionized workers.  This bill hurts low-income working families and single parents who ask family members to help with childcare. Do we really want to make it more expensive for the state to subsidize childcare providers who watch over our families?

Facing a looming deadline to address California’s prison capacity, yesterday Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway and I joined with the Governor and legislative Democrat leaders to announce a legislative solution that prevents the additional early release of 10,000 dangerous felons.  It is very similar to the plan introduced by the Governor two weeks ago which was supported by Republicans, Assembly Democrats, law enforcement and crime victims’ groups.  Before joining with us, Senate Democrats initially supported a proposal that only relied on additional funding for mental health programs and provided no guarantee against early release.  Its only backers were the ACLU, plaintiffs’ attorneys, and prison “reform” groups – all of whom support early release of dangerous felons to reduce inmate population.  Keep this in mind as you read about the following bills:

AB 651 by Assembly Member Bradford allows a felony defendant sentenced to county jail under the realignment law, at the discretion of the court, to have his or her conviction expunged.  How does erasing the record of convicted criminals make California a safer place?  This bill sends a message to criminals that the state is willing to give them a get-out-of-jail free card.

AB 4 by Assembly Member Ammiano allows the release of undocumented criminals that have been flagged for an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hearing.  While I support comprehensive immigration reform, it is something Congress and the President need to address on the federal level as soon as possible.  But this bill allows criminals to be released from state or county supervision since it would make it more difficult for the federal government to find criminals for ICE hearings and possible deportation.

SB 649 by Senator Leno modifies the criminal penalty for possession of a controlled substance from a straight felony to a wobbler (i.e. a felony or a misdemeanor.)  Under Proposition 36, a felony simple possession offense only gets you sent to drug treatment.  Changing the penalty opens the door for persons convicted of drug possession to evade treatment.  And since there’s no incarceration, well you get the idea.

AB 218 by Assembly Member Dickinson takes away criminal convictions as a screening tool for jobs in state and local government.  It strips public agencies of a key tool in evaluating an applicant’s character early on in the application process and vetting out obvious bad risks.  Public agencies shouldn’t be turned into testing grounds to determine the success or failure of someone’s rehabilitation.

 

Make no mistake, there are many other pending bills that are either bad for our economy, threaten public safety or defy common sense.   But this should give you an idea of what we’re up against.  The next time someone you know complains about the cost of living or not being able to find a job, remind them this is the government they put in power.  Then ask them if it was worth it.

Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) serves as the Senate Republican Leader and represents the 29th Senate District covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Follow Senator Huff on Twitter @bobhuff99.