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Bill proposed to regulate toy guns’ appearance

State lawmakers will introduce a bill regulating toy guns so that they don’t look too much like the real thing, in reaction to a Santa Rosa boy’s fatal shooting by a police officer last month.

Real rifle and toy rifleThis “Imitation Firearm Safety Act” would define what an imitation firearm is and what they must look like to differentiate real guns from fake guns. For now, state law doesn’t include paintball, airsoft and bb guns in its legal definition of imitation weapons.

“Currently these copycat toys are manufactured to be virtually indistinguishable from real firearms,” state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, said in a news release. “Because the use of lethal force against a person carrying an imitation firearm is a significant threat to public safety, toys must look like toys and not lethal weapons.”

Andy LopezAndy Lopez, 13, was shot dead Oct. 22 in Santa Rosa by a sheriff’s deputy who believed the airsoft gun Lopez carried was a real AK-47-type rifle.

Evans is co-authoring the bill with state Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael. In reaction to a similar shooting in Los Angeles, De Leon carried a bill in 2011, SB 798, that would have required all BB, pellet and airsoft guns to be painted a bright color.

“This will give police an opportunity to easily identify toy guns for what they really are and avoid these types of tragedies,” De Leon said in Friday’s news release. “Toy gun replicas do not belong on the streets. They endanger children, teens and law enforcement. We can easily protect everyone involved with this simple solution. My strongest hope is that we can enact legislation this time so that no more families are forced to suffer the terrible grief the Lopez family has suffered today.”

A 1990 Department of Justice study found that there are more than 200 incidents per year in which imitation guns are mistaken for real firearms, the lawmakers said.

Levine called Lopez’ death “unfathomable, gut wrenching, and tragic.”

“When a child is playing with a toy gun, there must be no doubt that the toy is not a real gun,” he said. “Consequently, we need a law that fully protects our families from tragedies like this. I am proud to co-author this important legislation.”

Gov. Jerry Brown last year signed De Leon’s SB 1315 to let cities within the County of Los Angeles enact local ordinances more restrictive than state law regulating the manufacture, sale, possession, or use of any BB device, toy gun, or replica of a firearm that substantially similar to existing firearms.

Posted on Friday, November 22nd, 2013
Under: Assembly, California State Senate | 11 Comments »

Tim Donnelly aids woman choking on food

Assemblyman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly rushed to the aid of a woman who was choking, performing the Heimlich maneuver to help her dislodge the obstruction and breathe easy.

The video was uploaded Thursday; Donnelly campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns wasn’t immediately available for comment on where and when it was shot.

While not ensuring this woman’s health, Donnelly was busy Thursday jabbing at Gov. Jerry Brown for California’s unemployment rate and the health insurance cancellation notices some have received as the nation’s new insurance law is implemented.

“This is a system that was pushed by the Democrat Party, supported by the Governor, and signed into law by Jerry Brown himself,” Donnelly said in a news release. “With one million Californians set to lose their health insurance, the question now is, ‘What will Jerry Brown do to protect Californians’ right to choose their healthcare plan?’”

Health insurers are discontinuing individual-market policies that don’t meet the standards set forth in the nation’s new law. Those receiving such notices are being offered new policies by their insurers, but also can go to the Covered California website to shop around for the best deal and to determine whether they’re eligible for subsidies.

UPDATE @ 5:18 P.M.: Donnelly just replied to my tweet with some info about the woman in the video.
Donnelly tweet

UPDATE @ 5:43 P.M.: Kerns says the video was shot last Friday, Nov. 8, at the California Federation of Republican Women Southern Division’s convention in Ontario, Calif., where Donnelly keynoted a dinner. She didn’t upload the video until Thursday because she wanted to get permission from the woman – Adrienna Schabert, 50, of West Sacramento.

Kerns said Schabert was at the convention staffing a sales table for Damsel in Defense, which offers tastefully decorated stun guns, pepper spray and other self-defense items and accessories.

UPDATE @ 5:59 P.M.: Schabert said she began choking while Donnelly was talking to women at the table behind her. “All I could think about was my two boys” – her youngest, 16, is disabled, and her older son is graduating high school, she said. “I was really that scared, I thought I wasn’t going to be here.”

As she stood up and gestured that she needed help, “Mr. Donnelly just grabbed me and boom, did the Heimlich maneuver, and that piece of dinner roll just popped right out,” she said. “He was so calm, his whole demeanor – he didn’t panic, he just reacted.”

Schabert said she’s considering volunteering for Donnelly’s campaign.

Posted on Thursday, November 14th, 2013
Under: Tim Donnelly | 6 Comments »

State & federal calls for relief to Philippines

California and federal officials made urgent pleas Wednesday for more government and private aid for the Philippines, which is reeling in the aftermath of deadly Typhoon Haiyan.

In Sacramento, Assemblyman Rob Bonta – the Legislature’s first Filipino-American member – held a news conference Wednesday with Speaker John Perez and state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, encouraging Californians to support relief efforts.

“California is uniquely affected by the typhoon in that our state is home to the largest Filipino American population in the entire United States,” said Bonta, D-Alameda. “There are approximately 1.5 million Filipino Americans in California; this represents 43 percent of the nation’s entire Filipino American population. Many came to the U.S. within the last decade and still have deep ties to the Philippines. I’m proud that our state leaders stand in solidarity in support of the relief efforts.”

Jaime Ascalon, deputy consul general of the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, thanked Californians for their help. “It is great to see that when we are in need, California’s greatness, generosity and leadership is without hesitation.”

Pérez, D-Los Angeles, noted Assembly Democrats’ website now has a page directing people to organizations helping to assist typhoon victims. “As Californians, we have had our share of natural disasters, and we understand how horrific the cost can be — not just in dollars and cents, but in human terms. The photos and news reports have shown the devastation… And as with other recent massive disasters in Haiti and Japan, the people of California have been eager to respond.”

Steinberg said the stunning devastation in the Philippines puts Californians’ daily worries in perspective. “The California spirit is to ask what we can do to help and then to follow through. But recovery in such massive disasters will take years. What we cannot forget is that long after the news coverage wanes and the cameras are gone, the suffering and the need for help will remain for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.”

Californians who want to donate to relief efforts also can visit the American Red Cross’s Capital Region website or the CaliforniaVolunteer website.

Haiyan devastation

Meanwhile, two Bay Area House members introduced a joint resolution Wednesday urging Congress to render aid.

“The historical and cultural links between the Philippines and the United States run deeper than any flood waters,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, said in a news release. “I urge my colleagues to support this resolution to show our friends, the good people of the Philippines, that – as they stood with us in World War II – the American people stand with them at this, their time of greatest need. There are so many Filipino families in my district grieving over this and they deserve to know we are doing all we can to help.”

Speier’s 14th Congressional District has the largest population of Filipino Americans of any district in the nation – almost 70,000.

Joining Speier in introducing the resolution was Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, whose 17th Congressional District is the first in the continental U.S. with an Asian-American majority, and who is chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

“Alongside the 60,000 Filipino Americans in my congressional district, as well as the 3.4 million across the country, my heart goes out to the people of the Philippines and all those affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan,” Honda said in the release. “I draw upon the spirit of Bayanihan – where communities join together to uplift their neighbors – and call our global community to action and stand in support and solidarity with the relief and recovery efforts in the Philippines.”

The two lawmakers’ resolution expresses the deepest condolences from the United States to the people of the Philippines affected by the typhoon, which has claimed nearly 1,800 lives and left more than 600,000 people homeless. It also urges additional support for the victims in the recovery and rebuilding process. Despite an initial release of $25 million in U.N. emergency funds, aid workers report medicine shortages and difficulty accessing fresh water and food.

Speier’s office said the U. S. military already is helping the Philippine government with aerial reconnaissance, search and rescue, and supplies and resources. Over 150 troops are on the ground; the USS George Washington nuclear supercarrier will arrive within a few days; and two KC-130 Hercules aircraft were deployed from Japan. More assets are on short notice for deployment depending on the level of need.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Agency for International Development is working with the Philippine government and international relief groups to provide water, food and emergency shelter; it’s estimated that 2.5 million survivors will need food aid for the next six months. The U.S. government is providing $20 million in immediate aid: $10 million from USAID’s office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to provide emergency shelter and hygiene kits for 10,000 families, and $10 million from USAID’s Food for Peace program. About 55 metric tons of nutrition are expected to arrive on Thursday to feed about 20,000 children and 15,000 adults for five days; 1,000 metric tons of rice shipped from Sri Lanka is expected to arrive in early December and will feed 60,000 people for one month.

Speier will hold a telephone town hall at 6 p.m. Thursday with 100 Filipino-Americans from her district who are concerned for relatives or friends affected by the typhoon; representatives from the federal government and the Red Cross will be on the call, too. “Nothing can ease the pain of those who have lost loved ones or are uncertain if their loved ones are alive, but we will not spare any efforts to help the survivors rebuild their lives,” Speier said.

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Jackie Speier, John Perez, Mike Honda, Rob Bonta, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

NJ hedge fund prez bankrolls anti-AB 1266 effort

A hedge-fund manager from New Jersey has contributed another $50,000 to the campaign to repeal California’s new law that gives transgender K-12 students rights such as access to the restrooms and locker rooms that they choose.

Wedding AnniversaryThis latest contribution, made Nov. 1 and reported Monday, brings Sean Fieler’s total contributions to the “Privacy for All Students – Stop AB1266” committee to $200,000 – almost as much as all other contributors to that committee have given so far.

Fieler, of Princeton, N.J., is president of Equinox Partners and chairman of the board of the American Principles Project, a conservative 501(c)(3) “founded to reinvigorate and restore those principles that made our country great. We take pride in leading the conversation, defending and promoting the universal truths that we are all ‘created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’” Fieler also has been a prolific donor to efforts opposing same-sex marriage.

AB 1266 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, requires that a K-12 pupil be permitted to take part in sex-segregated school programs, activities and facilities including athletic teams and competitions, consistent with his or her gender identity and regardless of the gender listed on that pupil’s records. Though the law applies to a wide range of access, conservative opponents have dubbed it the “bathroom law.”

The Assembly approved it 46-25, the state Senate approved it 21-9, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law Aug. 12. The law will take effect Jan. 1, unless its opponents succeed in placing a repeal referendum on the ballot.

We don’t know yet whether they succeeded. Referendum supporters had until Nov. 10 to gather and submit valid signatures from at least 504,760 registered voters in order to put this on the ballot; hitting that mark usually requires gathering about 700,000 signatures to be safe. The Los Angeles Times reported Oct. 20 that they had gathered about 500,000. Southern California Public Radio reported Sunday that supporters said they’d submitted 620,000 signatures.

Posted on Monday, November 11th, 2013
Under: Assembly, ballot measures, Tom Ammiano | 11 Comments »

Poll: Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval rating rises

Gov. Jerry Brown has a higher approval rating than at any time since he took office in 2011, according to a new University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times poll.

The poll found 55 percent of registered voters approve of the job Brown is doing as governor; that’s up from 49 percent in September 2012 and 50 percent in June of this year. This latest poll shows 33 percent disapprove.

The poll of 1,503 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5 by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Republican polling firm American Viewpoint; the full sample has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Unsurprisingly, Democrats like Brown best – 78 percent approval to 11 percent disapproval – but independents like him solidly as well, 68 percent to 22 percent. Republicans disapprove heavily: 68 percent, while only 22 percent approve.

Brown has tremendous support among minority voters – 67 percent to 9 percent among black voters, 65 percent to 17 percent among Asian-American voters, and 61 percent to 20 percent among Latino voters – while the white vote is somewhat more split, 51 percent approval to 41 percent disapproval.

Even so, 49 percent of all voters surveyed said California is pretty seriously on the wrong track, while 37 percent said things in the state are going in the right direction. Unhappiness with the state’s direction is highest among Republicans (79 percent), while 59 percent of nonpartisan voters say it’s on the wrong track and only 27 percent of Democrats feel that way.

“It’s impressive that Brown’s approval has increased at a time when perception of politicians are generally at historic lows,” said Drew Lieberman, vice president of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. “The government shutdown tends to reflect on all politicians at all levels, but I think Governor Brown has built some insulation from that. This data shows Brown with a strong foundation and a solid core, but also with some work left to do.”

Indeed, the poll shows that even though Brown’s favorability continues to rise, it’s too early for voters to pronounce his re-election chances a slam dunk. Only 32 percent said they would pick him again for the job, while 37 percent said they would elect someone else.

Lots more, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, November 11th, 2013
Under: Abel Maldonado, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Tim Donnelly | No Comments »

Bonta seeks aid for typhoon-ravaged Philippines

As authorities continue to try to get a grip on the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, Assemblyman Rob Bonta – the first Filipino-American to be elected to the California Legislature – issued this statement and plea for aid Sunday:

Rob Bonta“I send my deepest sympathies to the people of the Philippines who this weekend experienced the tragic destruction of Super Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm ever recorded in human history. Authorities estimate that approximately 10,000 lives have been lost, and the devastating impact to the entire country is unprecedented. As my Filipino brothers and sisters try to survive, locate their loved ones, and heal after this tragedy, I am encouraged that our country and the rest of the world are moved with empathy, concern, and a desire to help, and are turning those feelings into tremendous relief efforts. I urge everyone to join those efforts. The International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent (IFRC) Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is supporting the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) in relief efforts and could use our support. Please visit http://www.redcross.org.ph/donate and contribute what you can to help address this enormous human tragedy.”

For those who find it easier to donate via the American Red Cross, click here.

UPDATE @ 10:20 A.M.: Here’s another way to help. The Registered Nurse Response Network – a project of National Nurses United, of which the Oakland-based California Nurses Association is part – already has signed up 370 registered nurses as volunteers to aid with Haiyan relief efforts and is seeking more, as well as donations to help send those nurses to the Philippines. Nurses who want to volunteer should click here; to donate to the “Send A Nurse” fund, click here.

Posted on Monday, November 11th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Rob Bonta | No Comments »

Efforts to roll back abortion laws start circulating

Supporters can start circulating petitions for two ballot referenda to overturn a pair of abortion-access laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced Thursday.

Brown on Oct. 9 signed into law AB 154 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, so nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants with special training can perform abortion by aspiration — in which the uterus’ contents are suctioned out — which is the most common kind of first-trimester abortion. The Assembly passed the bill on a 50-25 vote in May, and the state Senate passed it on a 50-25 vote in August, with most Democrats and no Republicans voting for it.

Brown also that day signed AB 980 by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, which requires the repeal of any sections of the California Building Standards Code that treat primary-care clinics differently if they do abortions.

With dozens of new abortion restrictions enacted in other states this year, California stood alone in passing laws to increase access.

Bowen said Thursday that proponent Laurette Elsberry can start circulating petitions for her measures to roll back these new laws. The attorney general’s official titles and summaries for these measures are:

REFERENDUM TO OVERTURN LAW ALLOWING SPECIFIED LICENSED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS TO PERFORM EARLY ABORTION PROCEDURES. If signed by the required number of registered voters and timely filed with the Secretary of State, this petition will place on the statewide ballot a challenge to a state law previously approved by the Legislature and the Governor. The law must then be approved by a majority of voters at the next statewide election to go into effect. The law would permit a nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, or physician assistant with a valid license and training to perform specified early abortion procedures. (13-0029.)

REFERENDUM TO REIMPOSE DIFFERENT STANDARDS ON CLINICS PROVIDING ABORTION SERVICES THAN ON OTHER PRIMARY CARE CLINICS. If signed by the required number of registered voters and timely filed with the Secretary of State, this petition will place on the statewide ballot a challenge to a state law previously approved by the Legislature and the Governor. The law must then be approved by a majority of voters at the next statewide election to go into effect. The law would repeal regulations that impose different building and licensing standards on clinics providing abortion services than on other primary care clinics. (13-0030.)

Elsberry – who voter registration records indicate is a 75-year-old Republican from Sacramento – has until Jan. 7 to gather and submit valid signatures from at least 504,760 registered voters for each measure.

Posted on Thursday, November 7th, 2013
Under: Assembly, ballot measures, Jerry Brown | 4 Comments »

Tim Donnelly: Make California sexy for business

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, officially launched his 2014 gubernatorial campaign today in Southern California, though really he’s been on the trail for a few months already.

He also posted this rather enjoyable web video today:

Best quotes:

“We need to make California the sexiest place to do business, because right now thing sexy to me in the State of California is my wife.”

Son: “I’m a way better shot than my dad, and I don’t take guns on planes.”
Donnelly: “Did you just say that?”

“I’m tired of the media being jerks.”

“I’m not white… I’m a fleshy pinkish tone.”

Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, the more centrist Republican in the race so far, released his first (and somewhat less light-hearted)web video today, too:

Posted on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, Abel Maldonado, Assembly, Tim Donnelly | 1 Comment »

Looking behind California’s unemployment snafu

As an Assembly committee prepares to hold an oversight hearing tomorrow to probe how a computer snafu delayed unemployment insurance checks to hundreds of thousands of Californians, a new national report shows many states rely on decades-old, failure-prone technology to run their unemployment systems.

The Assembly Insurance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing at 11 a.m. Wednesday on what went wrong when the Employment Development Department’s tried to upgrade its 30-year-old computer system at Labor Day. State workers have been struggling ever since to clear the backlog of claims for checks that never arrived.

This is hardly surprising, according to the National Employment Law Project’s new “State of Disrepair” report: California might be the poster child, but this problem is nationwide. The report lays blame at the feet of chronic federal underfunding, and says that since the Great Recession’s start, millions of unemployed workers have suffered unnecessary payment delays and application problems.

“Federal underinvestment in state unemployment IT systems doesn’t save money in the long run. Not only do unemployed workers suffer when systems fail, but the government misses out on productivity gains and cost savings,” Rebecca Dixon, NELP policy analyst and the report’s lead author, said in a news release. “Because a majority of these systems still run outdated programming languages, there is a significant cost to their ongoing maintenance. Worse still, these legacy systems increase the likelihood of problems such as benefit overpayments.”

Congress for decades has failed to adjust state unemployment insurance administrative funding for inflation, employment growth, or continuing capital investments such as computer upgrades, the report notes; instead, states have cobbled together networks of computer programs and hardware that complicate reprogramming and scaling up during surges in claims. The lack of federal funding also has made it hard for states to hire enough staff to process claims fast enough.

And with federal funding cutbacks compounded by budget sequestration, more states are laying off unemployment insurance staff, even though 2012 caseloads were still 155 percent higher than they were when the recession began in 2007, the report says.

The effects seem clear. In 2007, before jobless claims increased with the recession’s onset, 84 percent of states met federal standards for timely UI payments; by 2009, only 43 percent of states met the standard, and in 2012, only 41 percent met the standard, despite a decrease in jobless claims.

Even before EDD’s Labor Day snafu, the report says, California’s FY 2011-12 call volumes were such that 17 million out of 72 million calls – 24 percent – couldn’t even access the automated phone system. Of nearly 30 million callers who asked to speak with a live agent, only 4.8 million were successful.

Posted on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
Under: Assembly | No Comments »

20,000 petition signatures favor transit-strike ban

An East Bay Assembly candidate who’s been crusading for a legislative ban on transit strikes says he’ll deliver 20,000 petition signatures to an influential lawmaker’s office Friday.

Steve Glazer“Back to back, the petitions are larger than a 10-car BART train,” said Steve Glazer, who is an Orinda councilman, political adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, and Democratic candidate in the 16th Assembly District.

Glazer and supporters intend to walk Friday from the Pleasant Hill BART station to the district office of state Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Chairman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, to deliver the petitions.

During the BART strike earlier this month, DeSaulnier had said that what Glazer is doing “is popular, but the reality is more complex than that.” The senator said he’s interested in an idea advanced by Stanford Law Professor Emeritus William Gould IV — who chaired the National Labor Relations Board in the Clinton administration — to enact a law providing for arbitration and prohibiting strikes in public-transit disputes. “But I’m not going to do it if it has no chance of success, if both sides are against it,” he said.

A few days later, when BART and its unions settled their negotiations and ended the strike, DeSaulnier issued a statement saying his committee “is investigating how other metropolitan areas around the nation avoid this kind of situation. After conducting the investigation, the committee will pursue every possible remedy to ensure this never happens again.”

Glazer said Thursday that “the complexity is kind of a smokescreen for those who don’t want to take action… Bans such as this are done in many places in the United States successfully, so there are plenty of templates to examine.”

Glazer said that besides the petition signatures, more than 1,300 people have used his website to send individualized emails of support for such legislation to DeSaulnier.

“By my count he has nine BART stations in his district, he probably has the most riders on BART of any legislator… so we’re certainly looking for his leadership and courage and backbone,” he said.

Among other 16th Assembly District candidates, Republican Catharine Baker, a Dublin attorney, voiced support this month for a Republican Senate bill that would force BART employees – not all transit employees – to honor the no-strike clause in their contract even after that contract expires. Senate Republicans since have said they intend to introduce a broader strike-ban bill covering all transit workers.

Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich, another Democrat in the 16th District race, said Glazer and Baker are engaging in “political gamesmanship” when neither was privy to the BART negotiations. The third Democrat in the race, Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, has declined to comment on the matter.

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, Assembly, California State Senate, Mark DeSaulnier, Transportation | 6 Comments »