CMA Capitol Insight: March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Licensing & Regulatory Issues 

CMA Capitol Insight is a biweekly column by veteran journalist Anthony York, reporting on the inner workings of the state Legislature.

From drought to political firestorm and more

If you’ve passed California Medical Association (CMA) headquarters at 12th and J St. recently, you may have noticed some new artwork. Courtesy of the California Department of Public Health, posters warning of the dangers of e-cigarettes, or “vaping,” adorn the building’s brick walls.

The poster, however, is just one component of CMA’s recent resurgence in campaigning against tobacco. CMA is sponsoring and supporting a variety of anti-tobacco legislature, including a $2-per-pack tax, in conjunction with the Save Lives California coalition. Last week, lawmakers sent a $1.1 billion emergency drought package to Governor Jerry Brown, which he signed on Friday afternoon. The bills, which mostly accelerate previously approved bonds for water and flood control projects, were introduced by the governor at a press conference earlier this month.

As California continues to wrestle with a historic drought, lawmakers approved bills that will accelerate the spending of $660 million for flood control and $267 million for water reuse projects, while offering an additional $75 million from the general fund to offer food relief to workers displaced by the drought.

“This bill obviously will not solve the drought, but it is an important first step,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego).

From drought to political firestorm, Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris jumped into the fray over a proposed initiative that suggests gays and lesbians should be “shot in the head.” In an appeal to Sacramento County Superior Court, Harris called the measure “patently unconstitutional” and asked permission of the court to not provide a title and summary to the measure.

“As Attorney General of California, it is my sworn duty to uphold the California and United States Constitutions and to protect the rights of all Californians,” she said in a statement. “This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society. Today, I am filing an action for declaratory relief with the Court seeking judicial authorization for relief from the duty to prepare and issue the title and summary for the ‘Sodomite Suppression Act.’ If the Court does not grant this relief, my office will be forced to issue a title and summary for a proposal that seeks to legalize discrimination and vigilantism.”

The proposal by Huntington Beach attorney Matthew McLaughlin has led to a petition demanding that the state bar strip McLaughlin’s law license.

Meanwhile, the diplomatic thaw between the United States and Cuba is paving the way for…new legislative junkets! A group of Assemblymembers announced this week that Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins would lead a bipartisan delegation to the island nation for spring break next week.

The trip’s goal, according to a news release from Atkins’ office, is to build relationships with Cuban policymakers, farmers and businesses and “to explore the various options for collaboration on matters of mutual benefit for California and Cuba.”

The Assembly delegation will partner with California Building Bridges, a nonprofit with extensive knowledge of Cuba and many years of experience leading cultural, humanitarian and entrepreneurial exchanges between California and Cuba. No Assembly funds are being spent on the delegation.


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