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California lawmakers finalize action on a wide range of bills

California legislators debated and voted late into Monday night on bills that had to be passed by a midnight deadline to have a chance to become law. A key measure passed aimed at keeping Californians who haven’t paid their rent since March 1 in their homes through at least Jan. 31.

Legislators considered legislation involving everything from the eviction moratorium to police reform and from single-use plastics to the newspaper industry.

Bills passed by both the California Assembly and Senate will go on to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who will decide whether or not to sign them.

Here’s a look at some of the key legislation dealt with as Monday’s deadline approached, some of which wasn’t decided before press time.

Bryant crash inspires bill

California legislation prompted by the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others would make it a misdemeanor for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime.

The bill sponsored by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was approved by the state Assembly and Senate and was sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom for consideration, its author, Assemblyman Mike A. Gipson, said Monday.

Under the bill, a violation by a first responder could result in fines of up to $1,000 per offense.

After the Jan. 26 crash that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the others, reports surfaced that graphic photos of the victims were being shared. Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, was “absolutely devastated” by the reports, her lawyer said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva subsequently told news media that eight deputies allegedly took or shared graphic photos of the scene and he ordered the images deleted.

The sheriff said the department has a policy against taking and sharing crime scene photos, but it does not apply to accident scenes.

Plastic waste reduction close to approval

A landmark proposal that would slash the state’s plastic waste by 75% by 2032 was still awaiting final votes late Monday. The measure would address both packaging and disposable products like utensils and cups.

With less than 15% of California’s single-use plastic recycled and concerns about the impacts of the waste on marine life growing, the Legislature was considering two identical bills — one each from the Assembly and Senate.

The Assembly version was approved Sunday by the Senate and needed a final vote from the Assembly to proceed to Newsom’s desk. The Senate version was still counting Assembly votes Monday evening to determine whether the Senate would take a final vote on it.

The reduction would be achieved through a combination of reducing plastic use, a dramatic increase in the state’s recycling and an increase in compostable single-use products.

Eviction moratorium passes

The California Senate voted 33-2 Monday to support an emergency bill that would extend an eviction moratorium due to expire Tuesday. The measure was later approved by the Assembly.

Three Republican senators joined with Democrats in supporting the measure, citing negotiations that brought tenant and landlord advocates together.

Sen. Andreas Borgeas, R-Fresno, said last-minute revisions hammered out in near round-the-clock talks helped “make an uncomfortable situation somewhat more tolerable.”

“We absolutely need to take action right now,” added Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, co-author of the compromise measure hashed out last week. “Failure to do so could result in thousands of Californians ending up on the street when our homelessness has been the highest and in the middle of a pandemic when people are supposed to be staying in their homes.”

Newsom signed the bill late Monday.

Key police reform measure fails, others pass

On the final day of their legislative session, California lawmakers decided whether this summer’s protest movement against police brutality would translate to new legislation that toughens law enforcement accountability measures — or if opponents of those changes would beat back the latest attempts to rein in police power.

A bill that would allow “bad officers” to be permanently stripped of their badges failed to pass.

The measure would have created a way to decertify officers found to have committed serious misconduct. The bill got a late boost from celebrity Kim Kardashian West, who tweeted that the measure is needed so officers are held accountable if they break the law.

But the bill could not overcome vehement objections from law enforcement organizations that the proposed system is biased and lacks basic due process protections. Five states currently have no way of decertifying poor police officers — California, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The bill failed despite the extraordinary momentum created by months of anger and nationwide protests following the death in May of George Floyd while he was being detained by Minneapolis police. Protests again have flared over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

But other proposals did pass the Legislature on the final day. Lawmakers approved a bill that would ban police officers from using choke holds and carotid holds. A choke hold applies pressure to a person’s windpipe while a carotid hold applies pressure to a person’s carotid artery, which slows the flow of blood to the brain. Newsom has pledged to sign that bill.

Lawmakers also approved a bill to require the state Attorney General to investigate every time police kill an unarmed civilian.

“We have too much distrust with the police policing themselves,” said Democratic Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, who authored the bill.

The Legislature separately sent another bill to Newsom that would require youths under 18 to consult with an attorney before they could waive their Miranda rights. Current law has that protection for youths through age 15.

Democratic Sen. Steven Bradford said the bill “helps build trust in law enforcement and our criminal justice system, something we badly need right now.”

Journalists would be cleared to go behind police lines during California protests and demonstrations under other legislation on its way to the governor. The legislation would also prohibit police officers from “intentionally assaulting, interfering with, or obstructing” or citing a member of the press.

Lawmakers also gave final approval to a bill that would make it clear that supervisors have the power to create oversight boards and inspectors general with subpoena powers over independently elected county sheriffs.

They sent Newsom a bill barring law enforcement officers in most cases from wearing camouflage uniforms or those similar to military uniforms. Democrat Sen. Bob Archuleta said civilians might confuse police with members of the National Guard during protests.

But lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would have made public disciplinary records against police officers accused of racist or discriminatory actions, or those who have a history of wrongful arrests or searches, among others. That bill passed the Assembly, but the state Senate did not vote on it before the deadline at midnight on Monday.

Staff writers Martin Wisckol, Jeff Collins and Nico Savidge and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Source: Orange County Register

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