But beach smoking ban vetoed

The most recent California legislative session ended Sept. 30. California legislators were busy during the final weeks and passed hundreds of bills. Governor Jerry Brown has had several weeks to decided whether he will sign a bill into a new law or veto it.

Below are several bills, which he signed and will become new state laws, and a few, which he determined should not become laws.

Drug price increases

One of the first bills signed was Senate Bill 17, which requires drug manufactures to notify the state when the wholesale price is scheduled to increase more than 16 percent within a two-year period. The bill applies to drugs, which cost more than $40 for a 30-day supply.

The intent is to promote transparency in the drug business, said the bill’s author, Sen. Dr. Edward Hernandez.

There is also a requirement to analyze how drug prices affect health care premiums.

“Drug companies abuse their market power by jacking up prices, and the public is looking to their government for help,” Hernandez said in the press release. “Requiring drug companies to provide advance notice and some explanation for large price hikes is a step toward a more stable and predictable prescription drug marketplace.

College education

Assembly bill 19 would waives fees for those students enrolled for the first time in the community college system and who take at least 12 units per semester. This new waiver would only be available for a newly enrolled student’s first full academic year of attendance,

Currently California Community Colleges charge students an enrollment fee of $46 per unit per semester. The board of governors may waive this fee for students meeting prescribed requirements.

The legislature must appropriate funds for this bill.

It also intends for community colleges to partner with local educational agencies to provide secondary and postsecondary students and their families assistance in learning about college opportunities, completing college preparatory courses, and applying for college and financial aid.

It also expects these partnerships to support and improve high school student preparation for college and reduce postsecondary remediation.

The potential cost of waiving these fees may be more than $31 million annually.

HIV transmission 

SB 239, authored by Assemblymember Todd Gloria and State Sen. Scott Wiener, updates California criminal law to approach transmission of HIV in the same way as transmission of other serious communicable diseases

An individual, who knows they have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and expose anosther individual to it, by having unprotedted sex, can be convicted of a felony and sentenced to state prison. Senate Bill 17 would repeal this provison and define it as misdemeanor. The individual could be sentence to a county jail for six months.

It is also a felony to donate blood if one knows they have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or tested positive of HIV. This also has been lowered to a misdemeanor.

“In the decades since these laws were passed, societal and medical understanding of HIV has greatly improved, and there are now effective treatments that lengthen and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV. Furthermore, there is no evidence that laws criminalizing sexual activity on the part of people living with HIV accomplish their intended goal of improving public health, Wiener, who was the co-author, said when he introduced the SB 239 in February.

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” said Wiener said in the press release after its signing. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does. We are going to end new HIV infections, and we will do so not by threatening people with state prison time, but rather by getting people to test and providing them access to care. I want to thank Governor Brown for his support in helping to put California at the forefront of a national movement to reform these discriminatory laws.”

While the votes on this bill (the Senate passed it 24-12 and the Assembly passed it 52-19 were not overwhelming, defeat was not threaten. St. Sen Jeff Stone opposed it and Assemblyman Voepel did not vote on it.

Political ads 

Assembly bill 249, the California Disclose Act, would open the windows on who may be paying for various political ads or campaigns. More information on the source of funds for political ads — printed or telephonic — will be required.

The act prohibits a candidate or committee from sending a mass mailing unless the name, street address, and city of the candidate or committee are shown on the outside of each piece of mail in the mass mailing.

This also applies to a mass electronic mailing, The bill would provide that these disclosure requirements do not apply if the mass mailing or mass electronic mailing is paid for by an independent expenditure.

The new disclosure law prohibits candidates or committees from expending campaign funds to pay for specified telephone calls that advocate support of, or opposition to, a candidate, ballot measure, or both, unless the name of the organization that authorized or paid for the call is disclosed to the recipient of the call during the course of each call.

The act also requires advertisements to include disclosure statements, with the names of the persons who made the two highest cumulative contributions to the committee paying for the advertisement.

Puppy mills 

Brown signed AB 485, “Pet Rescue and Adoption Act.”  Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, California pet stores will  be allowed to sell only dogs, cats or rabbits that which were obtained from a public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group.

And the dogs and cats must comply with laws regarding spaying and neutering of these animals.

AB 485 applies to the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits.

The bill’s author, Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell said in a press release after the Governor signed the bill, “This is a big win for our four-legged friends, of course. But also for California taxpayers who spend more than $250 million annually to house and euthanize animals in our shelters.”

Although the American Kennel Club opposed the bill, its language does not prohibit the purchase of the animals from private breeders.

Smoking on public beaches and parks

Senate Bill 386 and Assembly Bill 725 would have banned smoking on California pubic parks and beaches. Last week, Gov. Brown vetoed both bills.

In his veto message, Brown said he thought both bills were too broad. For example, the fine for lighting one cigarette in a state park could be $485.

More importantly, Brown said, “Last year, I vetoed Senate Bill 1333, a similar measure, because I believed that such a far-reaching prohibition in every state park and every state beach was too broad.”

He concluded his message with this statement, “If people can’t smoke even on a deserted beach, where can they? There must be some limit to the coercive power of government.”