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Will Jerry Brown sign them or not?

The Legislature has adjourned for a month, and now we sit with bated breath, waiting to see which of the slew of bills it sent Gov. Jerry Brown this week – including some interesting ones from the Bay Area delegation – will actually get his signature.

signature gatheringFor example, SB 168, by state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, forbids paying ballot measure petition signature gatherers on a per-signature basis, which she says will reduce fraud by reducing the temptation to pad out petitions with bogus names. Opponents say there’s little evidence of such fraud, and outlawing per-signature payment will make it prohibitively expensive to wage ballot-measure campaigns. Secretary of State Debra Bowen, the state’s chief elections officer, is among those who have endorsed the bill. The state Senate passed SB 168 in May on a 23-15 vote, and the Assembly passed it yesterday on a 48-28 vote.

National Popular VoteAB 459, by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, would ratify a national “National Popular Vote” plan by agreeing that California would award its Electoral College votes to the presidential ticket that gets the most popular votes nationwide. Similar bills already have passed in Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington plus the District of Columbia, but approval by California – with its 55 electoral votes – would push considerably closer to the goal of reaching the 270 out of 538 needed to activate the plan. Proponents say the bill would boost California’s stature in the presidential election process. The Legislature approved similar bills in 2006 and 2008 but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed them. The state Senate approved it yesterday on a 23-15 vote, and the Assembly passed it later yesterday on a 49-5 vote.

jailhouse informantsAnd SB 687, by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would ensure that no judge or jury convicts a defendant, or approves an aggravating factor in a crime that allows for a stricter penalty, based solely on the uncorroborated testimony of a jailhouse informant. The bipartisan California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice recommended this in 2006 as a means of avoiding wrongful convictions; it’s supported by the San Francisco and Los Angeles district attorneys, among others, but the California District Attorneys Association opposes it. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed similar bills. The state Senate passed it in May on a 23-15 vote, and the Assembly passed it yesterday on a 47-26 vote.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.