The Latest: Bill offers free first year at community college
Sep. 14, 2017
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on action by the California Legislature (all times local):
The first year of community college would be free for full-time, in-state students under a bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown by California lawmakers.
The bill given final approval by the Assembly Wednesday would waive the $46 per unit fee for one academic year for first-time students.
Democratic Assemblyman Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles says his bill "is absolutely doable" because it would cost about $31 million in existing state dollars.
Fellow Democrat and co-author David Chiu of San Francisco says some campuses already are waiving first-year fees. He says California would follow the lead of Tennessee in creating the program. He noted that California had free tuition until 1984, when tuition costs began to rise.
California lawmakers have voted to require drugmakers to provide advance notice before instituting big price increases.
The bill was approved in Legislature this week after similar proposals were rejected in last year under stiff opposition from drugmakers.
SB17 was introduced following high-profile spikes in the prices for certain drugs.
It will require pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide 60 to 90 days' notice to big purchasers such as the state and insurance companies before instituting sizeable price increases.
Supporters say it will discourage big price increases while allowing insurance companies and other big drug purchasers to plan. Drug companies say it doesn't account for discounts that large drug purchasers receive and will discourage research into lifesaving cures.
The California Legislature has passed a bill aimed at protecting college students from immigration authorities.
The bill heading to Gov. Jerry Brown adds new procedures at community colleges and in the California State University system for dealing with federal immigration agents. It comes as the state pushes back against President Donald Trump's decision to end a program that protects roughly 200,000 young California immigrants from deportation.
The bill says students, faculty and staff should immediately notify the school's chancellor or president if immigration officers are on campus and says they should only comply with requests for campus access if agents have a warrant.
Schools must also maintain a list of attorneys who handle immigration cases to provide free of charge to anyone who needs it.
Taxpayers would be able to donate to a voluntary tax contribution fund to help reduce the backlog of testing rape kits under a bill heading to Gov. Jerry Brown.
The Assembly on Wednesday gave final approval to the bill by Assemblyman Evan Low.
The Democrat from Silicon Valley says the bill will create a funding source that can help catch rapists by linking them to their crimes through DNA evidence they leave behind.
AB280 would add a check-off box on personal income tax forms allowing taxpayers to donate part of their taxes to helping local governments pay for testing rape kits.
A 2014 state audit found thousands of untested kits in California, with as many as 1,900 untested in some counties. They were among about untested 400,000 kits nationwide.
A proposal to merge California's energy grid with others in the West is not advancing this year.
Democratic Assemblyman Chris Holden of Pasadena says there's "still more to discuss," including the role of the Legislature in reviewing the plan.
Holden was the author of two bills that would have allowed the California Independent System Operator to eventually merge with other grid managers.
Some environmental groups say regionalizing the Western electrical grid would more conveniently and cheaply integrate renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which are highly variable depending on weather.
Critics say a regional grid would open California's market to coal and natural gas power plants in other states.
Holden says he'll continue working on the issue and try again next year.
Californians under age 21 could soon face new driving restrictions under a bill passed by the Legislature.
The bill approved Wednesday would require any driver under age 21 to have a provisional license, compared to under age 18 in current law. It still needs Gov. Jerry Brown's signature and would take effect in 2020.
Provisional driver's licenses restrict when someone can drive and who they can have in the car. Existing law bans drivers with these licenses from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the first year of being licensed and from driving with anyone under age 20 in the car. Exceptions are made for school and employment.
The new law would mean anyone under age 21 with a provisional license would have to keep their school or employment schedule with them while driving as proof of the exceptions.
California lawmakers have sent Gov. Jerry Brown legislation to free more elderly inmates.
Federal judges in 2014 ordered California to consider releasing inmates age 60 or older who have served at least 25 years in prison.
AB1448 by Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber of San Diego would lock the federal court order into law.
The Assembly approved the measure Wednesday during a flurry of action before the session ends.
Some lawmakers say parole officials aren't freeing enough older inmates who are less likely to commit new crimes and may no longer be physically able to do so. Opponents say some inmates may never be too old for prison.
Death row and other no-parole inmates are excluded under the federal court order. Weber's bill additionally excludes cop killers and third-strike career criminals.