5 highlights from California's legislative session

  • Article by: The Associated Press
  • Associated Press
  • August 30, 2014 - 3:55 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Jerry Brown has until the end of September to sign or veto the hundreds of bills sent to him by the Legislature. Here are five notable actions, some of them firsts in the country, that state lawmakers took in the final days of this year's legislative session, which ended early Saturday:

1. "YES MEANS YES" CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT BILL: As colleges and universities across the nation come under fire for how they handle rape allegations, California became the first state to approve legislation defining what constitutes consent in sexual assault investigations. SB 967 seeks to end a victim-blaming culture by requiring campuses to use an "affirmative consent" standard to determine whether accusers made an "unambiguous, conscious" decision to have sex. Silence, lack of resistance or intoxication is not consent under the legislation.

2. PLASTIC BAG BAN: California would be the first state to ban single-use plastic bags in stores, following the lead of dozens of cities that include Los Angeles; San Francisco; Portland, Oregon; and Chicago. SB 270 phases out the bags starting in 2015, while allowing grocers to charge 10-cent fees for paper or reusable bags.

3. SCANDALS INSPIRE REFORMS: Two Democratic state senators are facing federal corruption charges, prompting a flurry of ethics legislation in an attempt to restore the California Capitol's tarnished image. Various bills headed to the governor prohibit lobbyists from showering lawmakers with gifts and hosting extravagant fundraisers, ban valuable gifts such as concert and sports tickets, and restrict the use of campaign cash for vacations and clothing.

4. SANTA BARBARA RAMPAGE PROMPTS GUN BILL: A 22-year-old student killed six people in a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, despite family members warning police about his behavior. The case inspired AB 1014, which would allow family members and law enforcement agencies to petition a judge for a restraining order to remove guns from a potentially dangerous person.

5. DRONE PRIVACY: As unmanned aircraft hit the skies to take photographs and investigate crimes, lawmakers have been worried about privacy laws lagging behind the advances in technology. AB 2306 expands invasion-of-privacy statutes to include paparazzi photographers pursuing celebrities with drones in their homes and backyards, while AB 1327 establishes restrictions on the government's use of drones for surveillance.

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