My latest ramblings.
Enjoy! I definitely got important things to say
My latest ramblings.
Enjoy! I definitely got important things to say
California’s state assembly is close to accomplishing something New York lawmakers could not do — change the way sexual assault is prosecuted.
Inspired by Bill Cosby, of all people, elected leaders in the Golden State passed a bill last week to end the time limit for prosecuting rape and felony sex crimes.
Under the California’s current law, rape and felony sex crimes must be tried within 10 years, unless DNA evidence comes to light after that time period.
And sex crimes against children younger than 18 must be prosecuted before the victim turns 40. Cosby stands accused of assaulting more than 35 women in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, but in several of their cases, the statute of limitations has expired.
“There are some crimes that are so heinous that there should never be a statute of limitations,” Assemblyman Travis Allen told the Los Angeles Times.
Assemblyman Mike Gipson agreed, calling the bill “long overdue” and saying it would “ensure that criminals be placed in jail” no matter when charges are brought against them.
The legislation now moves to the state senate, and if the governor signs the bill, crimes including rape and continuous sexual child abuse would no longer have a statute of limitations and could be prosecuted at any time.
Though the legislation is not yet a done deal, it is lightyears ahead of anything New York has done on the issue.
In Albany, Democratic lawmakers were pushing for different versions of the Child Victims Act that would either extend the time that child sex abuse victims can bring legal cases, or eliminate the time limit altogether.
But Senate Republicans blocked the measures from coming to a vote before the 2016 legislative session ended in June.
The missed opportunity angered child sex abuse victims who have been unable to get justice because of laws shielding predators from prosecution.
The victims have been trying to pressure state lawmakers to reform New York’s statute of limitations which bars sex abuse victims from pursuing criminal charges or civil litigation after their 23rd birthday.
The bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) would have increased the time a sexual abuse case could be brought by five years, opened a six-month window to revive old cases, and treated public and private entities the same when it comes to sex abuse.
The bill moved through committee, but never came to the floor for a vote.
Unlike the Senate, the Assembly in the past has passed legislation dealing with the issue, though the last time was in 2008.
Andy wanted a blessing.
He had awoken in a haze after a suicide attempt with painkillers and began to panic. He didn’t want to die. But he didn’t know if he could live. Andy’s first, secret boyfriend had raped him and dumped him, he said. Simultaneously traumatized by and lonesome for the one person who accepted him as a gay man, Andy floundered for months in shame and dread until he finally turned to the bishop of his Mormon student congregation at Brigham Young University.
He expected some reproof for acting on his “same-gender attraction,” as LDS leaders have termed being gay. But Andy also hoped for some comfort and counsel.
Instead, he said, his bishop offered an ultimatum: Andy could turn himself in to BYU’s Honor Code Office to be disciplined by the school, or the bishop himself would report Andy for the violation of “homosexual behavior.”
While multiple current and former students have told The Salt Lake Tribune that rape victims at BYU may be investigated for potential discipline, a half-dozen LGBT students described unique challenges they faced when they were assaulted while attending the flagship school of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
BYU’s Honor Code forbids homosexual behavior, which the school defines as “not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.” Holding hands and kissing, while allowed between men and women, are widely understood to be subject to discipline; BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said the language of the Honor Code “speaks for itself and relies on students to use good judgment.”
But advocates for LGBT students say coming out brings such scrutiny that even people who have no intention of dating tend to seek support in secret, often online.
That has created an underground social scene in which predators can take advantage of silent and largely inexperienced victims, according to several LGBT students who have told The Tribune they were raped while enrolled at BYU. LGBT students who are assaulted by a member of the opposite sex say they fear their orientation remains a liability should they try to report the crime.
These student accounts come as BYU faces new scrutiny on two fronts: Federal officials this month added BYU to a list of more than 200 schools under investigation nationwide for how they respond to student reports of sexual assault. Meanwhile, more than 20 LGBT advocacy groups have asked leaders of the Big 12 athletic conference to eliminate BYU from consideration for membership, alleging the school “actively and openly discriminates against its LGBT students and staff.”
An advisory council created by BYU in May is studying the school’s handling of sexual-assault reports.
“Both the church and BYU care deeply about the safety and well-being of these young people,” LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a written statement. “There’s absolutely no excuse for anyone who would prey upon a student in this way, and sexual predators are neither enabled nor excused by the policies [described].”
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students say confidential support can be hard to come by in the aftermath of an assault. There is no official school group or office for LGBT resources; the student-led support group, Understanding Same Gender Attraction, is not sanctioned by the school and is not allowed to reserve meeting space on campus, Carri Jenkins confirmed.
Although she said the school’s counseling center offers services to LGBT students and Hawkins directed students to LDS Family Services counselors or bishops, some students said the risks of disclosure are too high.
“You can’t talk to anybody about it,” said J.P., a former student who recounted being raped in 2011. “I felt hand-tied. I wasn’t able to seek help from anybody. As a gay person [at BYU], that wasn’t even an option, because the moment you tell the situation you’re in, you’re busted. There’s no protection.”
The Tribune typically does not publish the names of victims in sex crimes; the sources in this story agreed to be identified by their initials or first names.
‘What happened was going to cost me’
Andy was a 17-year-old BYU freshman when he got involved in a relationship that he describes as coercive. It also was unlawful under Utah law, based on his age: The man, whom Andy met online, was 25.
They had met a few times in winter 2012, and while the physical relationship was moving faster than Andy wanted, he said he wasn’t sure what to do about it. Then, in the basement of his boyfriend’s South Jordan home, Andy discovered the extent of the man’s disregard for boundaries.
“I can remember being on his bed with my clothes off,” Andy said. “I can remember not necessarily screaming, but forcefully saying to stop. But he wouldn’t.”
Andy said he did not realize that he had been raped, believing at the time that “guys don’t get raped.”
He said had come out to his parents, who told him they would not tolerate homosexuality in the family.
“I felt trapped,” Andy said. “I felt like the only way I could continue living was to stay with [the rapist] because he was the only one who was supportive.”
After they broke up, Andy said, he saw only terrible options: He could suppress his sexuality and be condemned to loneliness and deception — or he could be gay and suffer rape and abuse.
A third option — not to live — rose to the top of his list.
After Andy awoke from his suicide attempt, he checked himself into a hospital for a brief stay. Over the summer, he grew more depressed, Andy said, until a friend suggested he seek help from their student ward bishop, “to get counsel, get advice, get a blessing.”
When the bishop instead ordered him to “repent” to the Honor Code Office, Andy said, his depression gave way to panic. “It was real that what had happened was going to cost me my education and my job,” Andy said.
The Honor Code investigator, or counselor, asked extensive questions, Andy said. “He wanted to know exactly what kind of sex had occurred, the dates of when it had occurred, where it had occurred. … He was taking notes furiously as I was telling my story.”
BYU initially said it could not locate records of a case like Andy’s. After The Tribune confirmed it had obtained disciplinary records and provided more details, Carri Jenkins said she could not provide more information without a written release from the student. If a similar report was made by a minor student today, she said, the case would be referred to police and the Title IX office, which investigates sex crimes, and any Honor Code investigation would be suspended.
Although Andy cannot remember whether he described the physical coercion, he said did talk about the age difference and provided dates that showed he was a minor at the time of the assault. Andy said the counselor didn’t refer him to police, but he did thank Andy for reporting to the Honor Code Office.
A month later, the counselor called Andy back to the office.
“The first time he had been compassionate, and that whole facade was completely gone,” Andy said. “Now it was him looking at me like the bastard at the family reunion.”
Andy was put on “withheld suspension,” he said. He could attend classes, but he couldn’t participate in activities and lost his campus job and his housing. He received a folder of religious writings about the dangers of homosexuality and met weekly with the Honor Code counselor.
Andy said he immersed himself in his repentance.
“I got really into it, and really into church, and was convinced I was going to cure myself of my gayness — which seemed to be what the Honor Code Office wanted me to do, based on the readings they were giving me,” Andy recalled. “… I wanted it to go away forever, especially after trying [a relationship] once and seeing where it got me.”
The LDS Church has stated on its website mormonsandgays.org that “individuals do not choose to have [same-sex] attractions.” The site states: “The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is.”
Andy’s standing at BYU was restored after a semester — his suspension shortened from a year — and he found new peace when he served a Mormon mission. He was too busy to think about sex, and the rigorous schedule prevented much contact with other gay men.
“I felt like I had a testimony, like God had finally forgiven me for being gay, for allowing the assault to happen,” Andy recalled. “I thought, ‘I’ll be able to marry a woman and be a member of the church.’ ”
When he moved back to Utah, he got a job and began dating a woman. “I felt awesome,” Andy recalled. “I finally found someone. Everything was going to be OK.”
But he said his girlfriend led him to the one price he could not pay: her happiness.
“I realized I didn’t have a connection with her in the way that I should have a connection with her,” Andy said. “I haven’t dated a girl since.”
Andy said he hopes to “grin and bear it” long enough to finish his degree at BYU.
‘I was really scared of him’
Many LGBT students at BYU find that trying to date in secret means giving up protections that heterosexual singles take for granted, said Addison Jenkins, president of Understanding Same Gender Attraction.
Students make online connections with a higher degree of anonymity so the people behind the profiles don’t risk exposure, he said. Longing for connection but facing the risk of expulsion, they meet dates in person, possibly without exchanging even basic personal details, such as ages and last names. With students encouraged to help enforce the Honor Code, LGBT students may not be able to tell friends or roommates where they’re going or who they’ll be with, he said.
Predators know all of this, Addison Jenkins said.
“It’s easy to think, ‘Oh, there aren’t monsters out there, lurking, waiting to attack gay students,’ because that seems so malicious and so predatory,” he said. “But I think experience shows that, for sure, gay students at BYU are at a lot of risk.”
Former BYU student A.D. doesn’t know the last name of the older man who he said slipped a drug into his orange juice during a date in December.
He doesn’t know where the man is now — “He said he was from out of state,” A.D. recalled — and he can’t remember the address of the home he crawled away from the following morning.
A.D. said he felt uncomfortable almost as soon as he stepped into the Lehi house where the man had directed him.
When the man thrust a cup in front of him, “I said, ‘I don’t drink alcohol.’ ‘Oh, it’s not alcohol.’ He’s coming up with answers to my objections,” A.D. said.
He said he sank into a fog of what he now suspects was a date-rape drug. The man grew angry when A.D. became nauseated, and then “would flip back really quickly, tell me I was beautiful and try to kiss me,” A.D. said. The man had assured A.D. there was no pressure to have sex; a few hours later, when A.D. no longer could move his limbs, the man was groping him.
A.D. said he awoke the next morning unable to walk. He said he sent his GPS coordinates to his friend’s phone and crawled into a window well outside the man’s house while he waited to be picked up.
After the attack, A.D. said, every option looked humiliating. Disclosing the crime would mean inviting blame and scrutiny for being gay. Suffering alone felt like conceding that he deserved it.
“I felt really hopeless, really depressed. My first instinct was, ‘Well, I could overdose and not have to suffer the indignity of having to put my life back together.’ ”
Within weeks, A.D. broke down and told a trusted teacher about the assault. She was required to report to the school’s Title IX office, which, A.D. was told, would collaborate with the Honor Code Office.
After one meeting with a Title IX investigator, A.D. dropped out of BYU.
“I know that [the investigation] is open,” A.D. said. “To go back to BYU, I might have to finish talking about it. … I’d also have to talk to the Honor Code Office, and I wasn’t going to survive that.”
Addison Jenkins said he has heard similar accounts from LGBT students who turned to the internet for friendship and support as they struggled with their sexuality.
“They just wanted someone to talk to,” he said, “and they end up at this person’s house or this person’s car, and they get taken advantage of.”
‘Who I was was going to make my story suspect’
Aubree, a current BYU student, said she also feared an Honor Code investigation into her 2012 sexual assault by a man, worried that Honor Code enforcers would view it in a suspicious light because she is bisexual.
Aubree said she had confided in her visiting teachers — companions assigned to check on the spiritual and physical welfare of women within Mormon congregations — that she was attracted to women.
“I’m crying and begging them not to tell anybody. The next thing I know, they’ve told the bishop, who told his counselors, and they told their people, and everybody knows,” Aubree said. “Having been outed at 19 years old, I went from being the person who never kissed anyone, never wore a tank top, never had a Coke, to being called into the bishop’s office and being compared to a drug addict, a kleptomaniac and a person with anger issues.”
The LDS Church’s official position, Hawkins said, is “that it is not attraction or sexual preference, but behavior, that is morally destructive. This same principle applies to anyone — gay, straight, bisexual or otherwise.”
Aubree said that, in practice, gay and straight attractions are not treated the same at BYU. On the day she was attacked, her roommates decided they were going to have “an anti-homosexuality scripture study night, where they basically went through the Bible and pulled up any anti-gay sentence they could find.”
Aubree said she went outside, waiting for the Bible study to end. A man she knew from her ward, or congregation, found her in tears.
“I told him why I was upset … and that I had just come out as bisexual,” Aubree said. “He was the first person I’d ever talked to who didn’t care. He didn’t tell me I was sinful. He didn’t ask me when I was going to get that fixed. … So when he said, ‘Hey, do you want to come to my place instead of going home?’ I agreed.”
The man invited her to watch a movie in his bedroom, which is forbidden under the Honor Code.
“That made me a little uncomfortable, but I didn’t see anywhere else that a TV was, and I was like, ‘It’s fine, we’re just going to watch a movie.’ ”
As soon as they sat down, Aubree said, the man started kissing her. When she told him to stop, he initially was apologetic. But she said he kept making advances. He pushed her on the bed, grabbing her and molesting her as she repeatedly told him no, she said.
“At one point, he said, ‘What, you don’t like this? Wow, I guess you really must be gay then,’ ” Aubree said. “And then he kept going. It was almost this idea … that I was somehow defective. It didn’t matter whether or not I was consenting.”
Aubree eventually stopped fighting because “he kept getting more and more frustrated and more and more rough,” she said. “I decided the best thing would be to let him do whatever he was going to do. Hopefully, he would take me home and I could just forget about it.”
Aubree said she confided in two people about the assault; both dismissed it as typical male behavior. Meanwhile, she said, she didn’t think she could report to police or the school because any investigator would soon discover she was bisexual — and then she would have a hard time convincing them the sexual contact was not consensual.
“There’s a stereotype that bisexual people just want sex with everyone,” Aubree said. “… My concern was that who I was was going to make my story suspect.”
‘I want to be free’
Instead of reporting, Aubree said, she struggled alone.
“I had a really hard time focusing on anything because I would be in the library doing my homework, and all of a sudden I would smell him,” she said. “I kept having to look around and make sure he wasn’t right behind me. I couldn’t sleep for a long time because every time I lay down to sleep at night, I could feel him on top of me.”
She said she felt shame, fearing she was “not pure anymore.” More than a year later, when she began having fantasies of killing herself, Aubree said a doctor first used the word “assault” to describe what happened to her.
“Part of me thinks if I’d said it differently, people would have believed it actually happened,” Aubree said. “I [wasn’t] using the word ‘rape.’ I think it would be a lot more helpful if people had the vocabulary to say, ‘OK, I was sexually assaulted.’ ”
Aubree remains a BYU student. She said she hopes the school will offer Honor Code amnesty for sexual-assault victims — the demand made by more than 100,000 people who signed an online petition this spring.
For A.D., leaving BYU led him to support systems he said he couldn’t have imagined in Provo. He transferred to a new school and got a job at an LGBT-friendly employer in Salt Lake City. When he told his co-workers he was gay, “a group of like 30 people were clapping for me, and happy for me, which obviously made me cry.”
A.D. said he eventually opened up to his new boss about his assault and found validation; she also had been sexually assaulted.
Andy, also still attending BYU, said networking with other student rape victims was a turning point in his recovery. He joined a support group and has tried to become more involved in rape awareness on campus and among gay victims. He said he can see in their eyes a familiar fear — that “you’re baggage that no one is ever going to want” — but he believes that is not the end of the story.
“I want to be happy,” Andy said. “To be in power. To be free.”
Full article: http://www.sltrib.com/home/4186603-155/students-byu-honor-code-leaves-lgbt
The California Assembly on Thursday passed a bill to end the time limit for prosecuting rape and other felony sex crimes, paving the way for the legislation to reach the governor before the session ends.
The Assembly approved the bill 70-0. SB 813 now goes to the state Senate, which passed an earlier version of the legislation 33-0 in June.
If the governor signs the bill, crimes including rape and continuous sexual child abuse would no longer have a statute of limitations and could be prosecuted at any time.
“There are some crimes that are so heinous that there should never be a statute of limitations,” Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) said.
Under existing law, such crimes generally must be prosecuted within 10 years unless DNA evidence emerges later. Sex crimes against minors generally must be prosecuted before the victim’s 40th birthday.
Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D-Carson) called the bill “long overdue” and one that would “ensure that criminals be placed in jail.”
State Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) introduced the bill in the wake of news that dozens of women have alleged comedian Bill Cosby raped them. Many of their cases cannot be prosecuted because the statutes of limitations have expired.
Cosby has said his relationships with his accusers were consensual.
For months, powerful interest groups battled behind the scenes at the state Capitol over a plan to require new disclosure over the price of prescription drugs. But the bill was officially killed this week, the victim of amendments crafted in private that weakened its efforts at transparency.
On this week’s California Politics Podcast, we discuss the collapse of talks over drug price transparency and how it might impact a Nov. 8 ballot measure on the same topic.
We also take a close look at the latest negotiations on a new climate change law and some of the clashes it’s sparked between Democrats.
And in our final segment, the latest statewide voter registration data suggests continuing troubles for California’s Republican Party.
A casino operator has hired former Rep. Gary Condit’s firm to lobby the state Legislature at a time when the legislative panel overseeing gambling issues is chaired by Condit’s son-in-law.
Condit is a founder of BBC Public Affairs, which was hired Aug. 2 by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in Temecula to lobby in Sacramento on “utility/energy” issues. The hire came just before Condit’s son-in-law, Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), proposed changes to his bill legalizing Internet poker in California in a way that specifically addressed concerns by Pechanga.
A Pechanga spokesman said there is no relationship between the hiring of BBC and the tribe’s efforts to get Gray to change his bill.
On July 29, Pechanga announced the formation of the first tribally owned and operated wholesale electric utility located in the state of California.
BBC is “monitoring utilities issues for us and have nothing to do with I-poker,” said Jacob Mejia, a representative of Pechanga.
“This is the first we have heard of this,” said Trent Hager, Gray’s chief-of-staff.
Condit’s daughter, Cadee, is married to Gray. Condit lost a reelection bid to Congress in 2002 after the scandal over the disappearance and killing of federal intern Chandra Levy.
Condit and other BBC officials did not return calls for comment.
Kathay Feng, executive director of the watchdog group California Common Cause, suggested it’s an optics problem.
“It still leaves the question, the public perception about whether a bill has been influenced by considerations other than just public policy,” Feng said.
Assemblyman Roger Hernández’s campaign to take fellow Democrat Grace Napolitano’s U.S. House seat was quickly marred by accusations of domestic violence.
Baldwin Park City Councilwoman Susan Rubio gave graphic testimony detailing abuse she said she suffered at his hands over the course of their three-year marriage. Her comments, as well as past accusations of domestic violence, were used against him in mailers from Napolitano’s campaign.
A political mailer attacking state Assemblyman Roger Hernández was paid for by Rep. Grace Napolitano’s campaign. None
A political mailer attacking state Assemblyman Roger Hernández was paid for by Rep. Grace Napolitano’s campaign.
When June primary polls closed, Hernández sat in third place in the race behind Napolitano and first-time Republican candidate Gordon Fisher.
But, on the same day a judge granted Rubio’s the request for a domestic violence restraining order, the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder released its final count of votes showing that Hernández had moved into second place by a margin of just 792 votes over Fisher.
Despite a swift political backlash after the restraining order was issued, including the loss of several endorsements as well as all of his committee assignments in the Assembly, Hernández was ostensibly still in the race until Friday when the West Covina Democrat indicated he would stop his campaign altogether.
Over the last several weeks while the assemblyman was on medical leave, his campaign remained quiet on social media. Laura Herrera, who managed his campaign during the primary, told The Times last week that she was not running his general election campaign and has not been in contact with Hernández.
Fundraising efforts crashed after the primary as well, according to the latest disclosures filed with Federal Election Commission.
Hernández reported raising just $8,849 between May 19 and June 30 and having $60,668 left in the bank for the general election. Napolitano raised just shy of $100,000 in that same period and had nearly $250,000 in cash on hand.
Hernández’s campaign headquarters on Rowland Street in Covina has been leased to new tenants, according to real estate agent Michael Wong, who represents the property.
The campaign also was a financial burden for Hernández personally: He lent himself $80,000.
Hernández launched his campaign last December at a park in West Covina with local union supporters and family by his side. He made jabs at Napolitano for not living in the 32nd Congressional District and sought to cast himself as a young “activist” lawmaker.
Napolitano suffered a stroke in February but vowed to keep campaigning for a 10th term.
Though Hernández cannot seek reelection to the Assembly because of term limits, he has an existing account to raise money for a potential run for the California’s 22nd Senate District in 2018.
Hernández’s office said “he is keeping it as an option.”
The seat is currently held by state Sen. Ed Hernandez, who cannot seek reelection in 2018 because of term limits and is running for the Lt. Governorship that year.
Under fire over domestic violence allegations and questions about taking a medical leave of absence from the Legislature, Assemblyman Roger Hernández (D-West Covina) indicated Friday that he was no longer actively campaigning for a U.S. House seat against Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano.
“Because of the damage, I don’t have the fight in me to continue forward in a congressional run,” Hernández told reporters after returning to work Friday in Sacramento following more than two weeks on leave.
The assemblyman, who was stripped of his committee assignments after a judge issued a domestic violence restraining order against him, said he has been suffering from blood pressure issues but is back for the rest of the session. He went on medical leave on Aug. 1, providing a physician’s note that did not explain any conditions, and continued to take his pay.
He compared his ex-wife, Baldwin Park City Councilwoman Susan Rubio, to “Tonya Harding,” and said her accusations that he beat her during their marriage have been like “a baseball bat to my knees.”
Hernández said he has been in his district, either at home or at his doctor’s office, during his leave. Asked by reporters if he had been in a rehabilitation program, he said no and added that any rumors of a drug problem were being spread by “haters.”
“I’ve made a big mistake,” Hernández told reporters, saying he should have been more open about his situation with the public.
“I’ve been going through a traumatic experience in my life. … I wasn’t healthy. My health was not at par to be at work,” Hernández said.
John Casey, communications director for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount), said Hernández had previously submitted a new medical note extending his leave.
Friday was the last day to amend legislation for this year and Hernández has several bills pending a final vote.
The current legislative session ends Aug. 31 and term limits mean Hernández is not returning next year.
Rendon removed Hernández from his post as chairman of the Committee on Labor and Employment in July after a judge ordered the assemblyman to keep away from Rubio for three years.
For the record: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Casey as Rendon’s chief of staff.
California’s motorcyclists could soon have clear rules on lane splitting after the state on Friday became the first in the nation to formally legalize the practice.
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation by Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) that defines the practice and authorizes the California Highway Patrol to establish rules for motorcyclists on how to do it safely.
Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), a retired state highway patrol sergeant who co-wrote the bill, called the new law a “groundbreaking step.”
“This is a huge win for roadway safety,” Lackey said in a statement. “We are now giving riders and motorists clear guidance on when it is safe.”
Lane splitting, in which a motorcyclist passes other vehicles by riding between them along the lane line, has long been a controversial issue.
Technically, it has not been legal or illegal, falling in a gray area where it was treated as acceptable by law enforcement agencies. But when the CHP published guidelines on the practice in 2015, a citizen complained that the agency should not be allowed to create public policy. In came AB 51.
Quirk’s original bill proposed that lane splitting could occur legally only when a motorcycle was moving no more than 15 mph faster than the traffic around it, and it prohibited the practice at speeds above 50 mph.
Several motorcyclists’ groups objected to that, saying the limit was too low. Other groups and individuals, who believe that lane splitting is dangerous regardless of speed, objected to the proposal entirely.
The revised bill, which sailed through the legislative process, provides a basic definition of “lane splitting” and leaves the rest to the CHP. Quirk has said it has many benefits, including reducing traffic congestion and promoting safety.
“I am thrilled to see that California is once again at the forefront of common-sense road safety legislation,” Quirk said. “Signing of this bill will bring legitimacy to this practice and help to keep our roads safer and our drivers – both motorcyclists and motorists – better educated.”
The father of Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for breaking federal campaign finance law, but will likely serve closer to 10 months behind bars.
Babulal Bera, 83, was sentenced in federal court in Sacramento on Thursday. A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office said that a defendant must serve at least 85% of the sentence.
“Currently, there are no further negotiations on housing,” spokesman Kevin Liao said Thursday.
Rendon’s comments, which were first reported by the Sacramento Bee, likely provide the death knell to the governor’s effort to tackle the state’s spiraling housing costs by making it easier to build. Brown’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Negotiations over the plan had made little progress since June when Brown agreed to spend $400 million on low-income housing subsidies should the Legislature agree to pass a version of his housing plan.
Brown’s proposal had faced strenuous opposition from influential labor and environmental groups, which had wanted higher wages for construction workers and were upset that the plan allowed projects to bypass some review under the state’s main environmental law governing development. A coalition of 60 labor, environmental and community advocacy groups walked away from negotiations over the plan last week.
When that happened, the Brown administration said it still held out hope for a deal. But in a further sign that the plan wasn’t moving, low-income housing advocates sent a letter to the governor and legislative leaders Wednesday asking them to spend the $400 million in subsides without the streamlining plan passing.
“Please do not penalize our state’s most vulnerable residents for the failure to reach agreement on the streamlining proposal,” the letter reads.
The Brown administration has given no sign it was willing to spend the money without the housing affordability legislation passing. Last month, a Brown deputy warned that there might be little appetite for future housing subsidies or regulatory relief if lawmakers didn’t act this year.
Other housing measures, including Brown-endorsed bills to make it easier to add small additional units in backyards and a $3 billion low-income housing bond remain alive in the Legislature.
5:30 p.m. This post has been updated to list other housing measures still pending this year after Rendon’s staff expressed concern that their comments could be interpreted as implying that negotiations had ceased on all housing bills.
SB 1322, authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), would make the crimes of solicitation and loitering with intent to commit prostitution misdemeanors inapplicable to children younger than 18. It also would allow law enforcement to take sexually exploited children into temporary custody if leaving them unattended would pose an immediate threat to their health or safety.
The measure passed Thursday with a 42-29 vote. It was one of two bills heard Thursday seeking to decriminalize prostitution.
SB 1129, authored by Bill Monning (D-Carmel), would repeal mandatory minimum sentences for specified prostitution offenses. It moved out of Assembly with a 42-26 vote and is also headed back to the Senate for a final vote.
Legislation to curb human trafficking has been a prominent issue at the state Capitol this session, as prosecutors and advocates in recent years have pushed the issue to the political forefront. Most of the proposals have focused on the trade of forced sex and reflect a cultural shift in the approach to prostitution that aims to divert victims forced into the industry away from the criminal justice system.
Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014 signed legislation placing sex trafficking victims without legal guardians under the authority of the dependency system, which centers on caring for abused and neglected children.
SB 1322 drew the support of a large coalition of advocates who said the bill was a step further in that direction, taking young victims entirely out of the juvenile justice system. But law enforcement officials oppose the move, saying the state’s child welfare system is woefully low on resources.
On the Assembly floor, lawmakers agreed the legislation was well-intentioned and promoted the idea that “there is no such thing as a child prostitute,” as children cannot legally consent to sex.
But while supporters of the bill argued that it would provide a better way to connect young victims with social services, opponents countered that it would prevent law enforcement from helping vulnerable children who often don’t see themselves as victims, run away from unsecured shelters and remain tied to their traffickers through complicated psychological and emotional bonds.
“Right now the best way to get these young women help, the best way to rescue them from this lifestyle is by keeping law enforcement involved through the ability to arrest,” Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) said. “Maybe in a few years from now, when we are doing better job at both the state and local level, we will better equipped and ready for this bill because services to young women will be readily available. But we are not there yet.”
Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley), who co-authored the bill, said the Legislature had put $20 million in this year’s budget to address the issue. Forty of 58 counties, he said, had already applied for funding to develop social services, shelters and other programs.
“All we are doing in perpetuating current law is saying, ‘You are not the victim, you are the criminal,’” he said. “Let’s say collectively there is no such thing as a child prostitute because there is no such thing as a child prostitute.”
Other lawmakers agreed.
“This is not the end of it,” Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) said. “This is the beginning of us thinking differently about the problem.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer on Thursday visited the Salton Sea and tried to put pressure on state and federal agencies to use more of their resources on saving it.
“This is a crisis waiting to happen, and it is the time for firm leadership by every single stakeholder,” she told reporters after touring a restoration project at Red Hill Marina, according to a transcript.
The Salton Sea was created in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a silt-laden canal and poured into a basin near Brawley known as the Salton Sink. It grew into a 360-square-mile lake straddling Riverside and Imperial counties, but it has been shrinking, causing record-high salinity levels and animal die-offs.
Boxer’s visit came a week after The Times reported on complaints from local officials that the state is years behind on efforts to protect wildlife and mitigate pesticide-laced dust that blows up from the drying basin.
Boxer praised recent state and federal moves to put more money into the project, but said it isn’t enough.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a state budget in June that included $80.5 million for Salton Sea restoration. The funding came from a $7.5-billion water bond passed two years ago by California voters.
And earlier this year, the Obama administration announced an additional $3 million in funding for Salton Sea restoration.
But Boxer criticized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for not funding a restoration program that she created in 2007 even though President Obama put money for it into last year’s budget.
Boxer has said resolving Salton Sea’s funding issues is one of her priorities before she leaves office in January.
full article with links: http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-sac-essential-politics-updates-california-assembly-votes-to-remove-1471554298-htmlstory.html
DECATUR – State Representative Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) sponsors legislation to end the statute of limitations involving sex crimes against minors under 18.
Scherer says, “These young victims have to carry these experiences with them the rest of their life, so we must fight to protect our children and ensure justice on their behalf by doing away with limitations on prosecuting offenders.”
Rep. Scherer sponsored three pieces of legislation this past session with that in mind. She co-sponsored House Bills 1127, 1128, and 1129 to remove the limitations that prevent law enforcement from prosecuting child sex predators after a certain amount of time has passed. These crimes include criminal sexual assault, aggravated child pornography, and the solicitation of a child to commit sexual acts.
Right now, crimes related to child pornography and sexual misconduct with a minor requires prosecution within 1 to 3 years of the offense.
On July 21, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law bill A6961-A, an act to amend the education law, in relation to posting the Child Abuse Hotline in schools. Assemblyman Mike Miller was the prime sponsor of this bill in the Assembly.
Bill 6961-A, in effect immediately, requires the posting of the Child Abuse Hotline number in every public school, including charter schools, in the state of New York. These posters will be in both English and Spanish and will be visible for both students and teachers within the school building.
According to a statement by Miller, nationwide statistics show that one in every 4 girls is molested and one out of every 6 boys. Eighty percent of abusers are these children’s parents. Miller said, “This bill is a cost effective way for students and teachers of these students to report abuse. Children who are being abused will now have a way to anonymously report their abusers. In this day and age we must do everything we can to make sure children are safe.”
Assemblyman Miller made this bill one of his top priorities this legislative session. “After reviewing the statistics about child abuse, I knew I had to work hard to push this bill out of the Assembly. Schools are a sanctuary for children; it’s where children learn and socialize with peers. If children could see these posters directing them to call the Child Abuse Hotline it would be educating them and giving them an avenue to report abuse.”
Miller said he was happy to see that Governor Cuomo signed this bill into law. The bill was a bipartisan effort with Senator Joseph E. Robach (R-Rochester) sponsoring the Senate counterpart. “With school starting in another month, this law will be beneficial to our students statewide,” Miller said.