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PD Editorial: First look at local senators' bills for 2013

Published: Monday, March 4, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 1, 2013 at 4:43 p.m.

California legislators introduced nearly 2,200 bills for this year, raising one obvious question: Does the state need 2,200 new laws. The answer is easy: No.

But the proposals have been made and committee hearings will start soon, with various deadlines for moving all these bills through the Senate and Assembly by fall.

We've taken a look at the bills introduced by our local legislators, and we plan to periodically update you on the progress and evolution of some of them. We'll start today with some measures introduced by state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, and state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis. Assembly measures will follow soon.

Evans' bills include:

• SB 59: Eliminates a century-old anomaly in state law that makes it a felony to rape someone while impersonating a spouse but doesn't apply to unmarried people. This bill, stemming from a Southern California case last year, already cleared its first committee and should be enacted as soon as possible.

• SB 121: Requires corporations to notify shareholders 24 hours in advance of any expeditures for or against candidates, ballot measures, political parties or political action committees and to file an annual report on political spending. Could this be a little retribution for anti-labor Proposition 32?

• SB 241: Levies a tax of 9.9 percent of gross value for each barrel of oil produced in the state. Revenue would be allocated to parks, colleges and universities. California is the only major oil-producing state without an oil severance tax. Oil taxes are major sources of revenue in Texas and Alaska.

• SB 617 and SB 754: Add online reporting and translation requirements for environmental impact reports and other documents created under the California Environmental Quality Act.

• SB 794: Rescinds limit of 10 peremptory challenges to potential jurors in criminal cases other than death penalty and life in prison cases, in which those challenges are limited to 20.

Wolk's legislation includes:

• SCA 7: A constitutional amendment to allow voter approval of library bonds by a 55 percent majority, the present standard for school bonds. A constitutional amendment requires both legislative and voter approval.

• SCA 10: A common-sense constitutional amendment prohibiting state legislators from taking final action on any measure that hasn't been available for public review for 72 hours.

• SB 33: Eliminates the requirement for voter approval for creation of an infrastructure financing district, an entity that has the authority to issue tax-backed bonds for public facilities. This sounds suspiciously like redevelopment.

• SB 42: Repeals an $11.1 billion water bond measure and authorizes a new bond measure of unspecified amount for the 2014 ballot. Here's a chance to throw some pork overboard.

• SB 365: Requires that enabling legislation for any new income tax break specifies goals and objectives and performance indicators and include a sunset date of no more than 10 years.

• SB 755: Expands the list of misdemeanors that result in a 10-year loss of the right to own firearms. Additions include threatening a peace officer, selling a firearm without using a licensed dealer, furnishing ammunition to a minor or someone unauthorized to have a firearm and various gang offenses.

You can find the text and analysis of state legislation at leginfo.ca.gov.

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