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Politicians react to same-sex marriage rulings

EVERYBODY has something to say about today’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage. Here’s the latest from your Bay Area elected officials.

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“As author of the bill to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, I am thrilled by today’s Supreme Court decision.

“Today’s ruling clearly establishes that the 14 senators who opposed DOMA in 1996 were correct. It also states that one class of legally married individuals cannot be denied rights under federal law accorded to all other married couples. Doing so denies ‘equal protection’ under the Constitution. This is an important and significant decision.

“Because of inequities in the administration of more than 1,100 federal laws affected by DOMA, it is still necessary to introduce legislation to repeal DOMA and strike this law once and for all. I will introduce that legislation today with 39 cosponsors in the Senate.

“As a Californian, I am thrilled by the Supreme Court’s decision on Proposition 8. The court’s ruling on technical grounds leaves in place former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

“I believe this decision means marriage equality will finally be restored in California.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“Today my spirits are soaring because the Supreme Court reaffirmed the promise of America by rejecting two blatantly unconstitutional measures that discriminated against millions of our families.
“I was proud to have voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and it is so heartening to see that the federal government will now treat all marriages equally.

“Because of the Court’s ruling on Proposition 8, millions of Californians will be able to marry the person they love – with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with it.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, the Supreme Court bent the arc of history once again toward justice. The court placed itself on the right side of history by discarding Section 3 of the defenseless Defense of Marriage Act and by allowing marriage equality for all families in California. The highest court in the land reaffirmed the promise inscribed into its walls: ‘equal justice under law.’

“Soon, the federal government will no longer discriminate against any family legally married in the United States. California will join 12 other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing the fundamental rights of all families. Our country will move one step closer to securing equal protection for all of our citizens.

“Nearly 44 years to the day after the Stonewall Riots turned the nation’s attention to discrimination against LGBT Americans, the fight for equal rights took a giant step forward. Yet even with today’s victory at the Supreme Court, the struggle for marriage equality is not over. Whether in the courts or in state legislatures, we will not rest until men and women in every state are granted equal rights. We will keep working to ensure that justice is done for every American, no matter who they love.”

Tons more, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Dianne Feinstein, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, John Garamendi, Leland Yee, Mark DeSaulnier, Mark Leno, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Skinner, Nora Campos, Paul Fong, Rich Gordon, Rob Bonta, Tom Ammiano, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 40 Comments »

Newly merged ammunition tax bill advances

Two Assemblymen’s newly merged ammunition tax bill was approved Monday by the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee.

AB 187, authored by Assemblymen Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, and Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, would place a 10 percent tax on all ammunition sold in California, with an exemption for law enforcement agencies. The committee’s final tally isn’t yet available, but I’m betting it’ll have been a straight party-line vote.

Under the amended version put forth just before Monday’s hearing, the new tax’s revenue – about $92.4 million per year, according to a Board of Equalization estimate – would be split between crime prevention efforts in areas hard-hit by gun violence and mental health screening and services for children.

Rob Bonta“Cities throughout the state, including Oakland, are suffering horrific and increasing gun violence. Oakland witnessed 131 homicides in 2012 – 21 more than 2011 and the highest in six years. Twelve of those victims were children,” Bonta said in a news release. “AB 187 will provide the City of Oakland, and cities in similar circumstances, with sufficient street-level public safety presence to prevent gun violence and attend to it when it does occur.”

And Dickinson said “screening young children for signs of mental illness and addressing any issues early on is the key to a healthier and more productive adult life. A limited tax on ammunition is a small price to pay for better mental healthcare for kids, reduced crime, and safer communities statewide.”

Gun-rights advocates and lobbying groups say it’s not fair to tax law-abiding gun owners to pay for crime prevention and mental health – services for which the entire public should share the cost.

Bonta’s original version of the bill would’ve imposed a 10 percent tax to be used only for crime prevention. Dickinson’s AB 760 – which will advance no further – would’ve imposed a nickel-per-bullet tax solely for mental health for kids.

ammoBonta acknowledged in March that an ammunition tax won’t be easy to pass, even with Democratic legislative supermajorities and recent Field Poll findings that 61 percent of California voters favor ammunition taxes and 75 percent favor background checks and permits for ammo purchases. Because a new tax faces the hurdle of a two-thirds vote, “it’s a heavy lift,” Bonta said; indeed, some Democratic lawmakers from more suburban and rural areas of the state have balked at discussing various ammunition taxation and regulation bills now pending.

Bonta chairs the Assembly Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay, which will hold its first hearing from 9 a.m. to noon this Friday, May 17th at the Elihu M. Harris State Building, 1515 Clay St. in Oakland. Click here for more information or to RSVP to attend the hearing.

Posted on Monday, May 13th, 2013
Under: Assembly, gun control, Rob Bonta | 9 Comments »

Bay Area-based gun control bills advance

As a bipartisan deal on increased background checks for gun sales appears to be headed for defeat in the U.S. Senate, some state lawmakers from the Bay Area are celebrating their own progress on gun-control measures yesterday in Sacramento.

The state Senate Public Safety Committee advanced a slew of gun bills on a series of party-line, 5-2 votes yesterday.

Mark DeSaulnierAmong them were two bills by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.

SB 293 would require all newly made or imported handguns in California be “owner-authorized,” or “smart guns” personalized in a way that would allow them to be fired only by authorized persons. This requirement would take effect eighteen months after the state California Attorney General makes a finding that owner-authorized handguns are available for retail sale and meet stringent performance criteria specified in the bill.

And DeSaulnier’s SB 299 would require that every person whose firearm is lost or stolen must notify local law enforcement within 48 hours of the time they knew, or reasonably should have known, of the loss or theft. If the firearm is subsequently recovered, the local law enforcement agency would have to be notified within 48 hours as well.

“It is critical that we promote safe and responsible gun ownership,” DeSaulnier said in a news release. “These bills will help us prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands, and ensure they are only operated by their lawful owners.”

Leland YeeAlso passed by the committee were two bills by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.

SB 47 would prohibit the use of “bullet buttons” or other devices that allow for easily changeable magazines on firearms deemed assault weapons by state law. Such firearms would only be allowed to have ammunition magazines holding up to 10 rounds, which could not be changed without dissembling the weapon; essentially, bullets would have to be loaded one-by-one from the top of the gun.

And Yee’s SB 108 would require all guns to be properly stored when an adult isn’t home. Current law requires that gun owners own a trigger lock or safety lock box for their weapon, but doesn’t require such a device be used on an idle firearm; Yee’s bill would specifically require that any firearm be stored with a trigger lock or in a lock box at a residence when the owner isn’t there.

“The horrors of Newtown and countless other mass shootings are still with us,” Yee said in his own news release. “With this in mind, it is our responsibility to make sure our laws protect the innocent from the threat of gun violence.”

In other Bay Area-based gun policy news, Oakland City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a resolution asking the state Legislature to pass a bill creating a bullet tax.

AB 187 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, would impose a 10 percent tax on ammunition to fund crime prevention efforts in the state’s most crime-ridden areas. Bonta had said last month that his bill might merge with another lawmaker’s proposed nickel-per-round tax to fund mental-health screening for children. He also said his tax is mostly about generating money to “combat the gun violence in our communities,” but could have the “secondary benefit” of stemming “rampant sales.”

Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who introduced the resolution along with City Attorney Barbara Parker, issued a statement saying that the bill’s endorsement is part of an effort to work with state officials to stop gun violence.

“This bill would significantly improve our ability to make communities safer,” Kaplan said. “I’m committed to working with leaders at all levels of government to stop gun violence.”

AB 187 is scheduled to be heard Monday, May 6 by the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee.

Posted on Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, gun control, Leland Yee, Mark DeSaulnier, Oakland City Council, Rebecca Kaplan, Rob Bonta | 6 Comments »

Assembly bill to seize assault weapons is dead

One of the most controversial gun-control bills introduced in California this year – a move toward taking the 166,000 registered assault weapons that are grandfathered under the state’s ban – is dead, its author said today.

When Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, introduced AB 174 in January, it declared the Legislature’s intent to end all “grandfather clauses” allowing ownership of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. The bill was gutted and amended Tuesday to address public-school health centers instead.

Bonta said Thursday that he realized his proposal was a non-starter.

Rob Bonta“It would be extremely expensive, for one – if you were going to take back guns that have were grandfathered in, you would have to provide market compensation for them,” he said. “I didn’t think that made the most sense from a fiscal perspective.”

Bonta also said he was very aware of the gun lobby’s assertion that any state or national registration of firearms is merely a prelude to confiscation – something his bill actually pursued.

“I didn’t want to have a bill that plays into that argument,” he said. “I wanted to concentrate on some other bills that I thought would be more focused and more effective.”

Bonta is carrying other gun-control bills including AB 187, a 10-percent tax on ammunition sales to fund crime-prevention efforts in California cities most torn by gun violence; AB 180, giving Oakland special dispensation to enact gun regulations more strict than the state’s; and AB 1020, requiring the state to send a letter to gun buyers during their 10-day waiting periods reminding them that “straw purchases” on behalf of those banned from owning guns are illegal.

Posted on Thursday, March 21st, 2013
Under: Assembly, gun control, Rob Bonta | 4 Comments »

Bills push for ammo tax, assault weapon seizure

Among the gun-control bills being rolled out by Assembly Democrats are a pair from a freshman East Bay lawmaker to tax ammunition and perhaps move toward confiscating banned assault weapons.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s AB 187 would place a tax on the sale of ammunition in California with proceeds going to a high-crime prevention fund that would be used in targeted areas suffering from high violent crime rates.

“In communities like Oakland and Stockton, parents are afraid to let their children play outside while gun violence ravages the streets,” Bonta, D-Oakland, said in a news release. “We must take swift action to get these communities the resources they need, and in AB 187 I propose to do so through a tax on ammunition.”

Far more controversial is Bonta’s AB 174, which for the moment reads as follows:

Under current law, certain banned weapons are permitted under various “grandfathering in” clauses. It is the intent of the Legislature to subsequently amend this measure to include provisions that would end all of those exemptions.

Rob Bonta“State laws on the books currently restrict the purchase and sale of assault weapons and large capacity magazines, but almost all laws only apply on a going-forward basis and exempted weapons remain on our streets,” Bonta said. “With AB 174 we will closely examine this loophole and do what’s right for the children and people of California.”

Ending any grandfather clauses presumably would mean a mandatory buyback of all banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines – just the kind of registration-driven confiscation that gun-rights advocates have been warning about for decades, and that they’ve sworn to resist.

According to the state Justice Department, 77,103 Californians own 166,424 registered, grandfathered assault weapons.

Other Assembly bills touted today include:

    AB 169 by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, to prohibit people who’ve been exempted from restrictions on buying guns that the state designated as unsafe from selling or transferring those guns to anyone who isn’t also exempt. California maintains a list of state-tested handguns that are approved for sale in the state.
    AB 170 by Assemblyman Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, would allow only individuals – not corporations or other associations – to be issued permits for assault weapons and machine guns. “In the same way that we prohibit sharing driver licenses, we should not allow dangerous weapons to be passed from hand to hand within an organization. One person, one permit just makes sense,” Bradford said.

And, yet to be introduced:

    A bill from Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, to prohibit those involved in gun or ammunition trafficking from possessing any guns or ammo for 10 years.
    A bill from Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, to tighten gun-safety laws already in place by adding a safe-storage requirement when a person prohibited from gun possession is living in the home. Ammiano’s bill also would let the state Justice Department extend the state’s 10-day waiting period when necessary for background checks.
    Another bill from Dickinson also to impose an ammunition tax – this one at a nickel per bullet, with proceeds going to an existing program that screens young children in grades 1 through 3 for mild to moderate mental illness and then intervenes to help those in need.
    A third bill from Dickinson to require CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest any existing pension fund investments from companies that manufacture, sell, distribute or market firearms or ammunition, and to prohibit any such investments in the future.

“Although California already has some of the nation’s best laws to reduce the incidence of violent and fatal shootings, we are always prepared to move when we can improve the safety of our communities and families,” Ammiano, who chairs the Assembly Public Safety Committee, said in a news release. “The Assembly is acting on this challenge and looks forward to seeing other proposals from the Senate. We will work with the other house to protect Californians from those who would misuse weapons. We will take a careful look at each bill when it comes to the committee.”

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2013
Under: Assembly, gun control, Nancy Skinner, Rob Bonta, Tom Ammiano | 19 Comments »

What they’re saying about the governor’s budget

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“This is a proposal that clearly shows California has turned the corner. The Governor’s budget is sober, restrained and forward thinking, and I believe it’s a solid foundation for the budget process. I am looking forward to thorough and insightful public hearings as we work with the Governor to adopt the final budget by our Constitutional deadline.”

From California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro:

“It’s easy for Gov. Brown to tout austerity and fiscal restraint when he has more of the taxpayers’ money in his pocket. His challenge will be to follow through on those promises when the economy continues to stagnate and the Democrats’ pie-in-the-sky projections don’t come to pass. That’s why Republican legislative leadership correctly proposed this week for the Governor to mandate that his new Prop 30 taxes fund our classrooms and protect our communities.

“What’s disappointing about Gov. Brown’s announcement is that job creation was never mentioned. Cutting the regulatory burden was ignored. Working with Republicans to unify the state is sadly not part of his agenda. In order for California to finally emerge from its economic doldrums and enter a new Golden Age, the answer lies with policies that encourage job growth and unleash the innovation of small business owners, not with budget wrangling and deferred payments that mask billions in debt to the federal government for unemployment insurance and more.

“We need bold reforms to go hand in hand with accountability and responsible fiscal governance if we want to return California and its citizens to prosperity. If Jerry Brown thinks we’re out of the woods just because, on paper, we’ll finally be ‘living within our means,’ he’s sadly mistaken.”

From state Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco:

“The budget proposal released today by Governor Brown is the most positive one we have seen in half a decade. The budget is narrowly balanced and contains elements that ensure a modest reserve. However, it reflects the difficult cuts and decisions the Legislature and Governor have made in the past few years to address the state’s structural budget deficit. It also demonstrates the confidence entrusted in us by voters in November who recognized that our fiscal situation was untenable without new temporary revenues. Although we are still under fiscal constraints, I am hopeful we are now past the period of devastating cuts we saw in previous years to education and programs that provide critical aid to elderly Californians, disabled people and working families.

“With the improvement of our fiscal outlook comes the opportunity to continue our work to restore California. While our recent efforts have focused largely on making cuts in the least harmful manner possible, we will now have more capacity to refine our work to improve essential programs and analyze the role of government and its effectiveness. I look forward to working with Governor Brown and my colleagues in the Legislature to evaluate this year’s budget to help ensure it is the best possible plan for a state on the mend.”

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar:

“New funding for our classrooms is a positive step forward for California. However, the Governor’s budget only seems to include $2.7 billion in new funding for K-12 schools and community colleges even though Proposition 30 taxes will generate $6 billion this year alone – Californians should be disappointed.

“I remain concerned that while state spending is being increased by $5 billion over last year, much of this money is used to expand state programs and provides major pay and benefit increases for state employees.

“Basically, this budget is balanced by a $50 billion tax increase, and Californians have yet to see any real, long-term plan to bring back jobs and help our struggling families.”

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Thursday, January 10th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Gavin Newsom, Jerry Brown, John Perez, Kamala Harris, Loni Hancock, Mark DeSaulnier, Mark Leno, Rob Bonta, state budget | No Comments »

Bay Area’s new Assembly leadership assignments

Here are your Bay Area Assembly members’ leadership assignments for the 2013-14 session, made today by Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

Leadership
Speaker pro Tempore: Nora Campos, D-San Jose
Assistant Speaker pro Tempore: Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco
Rules Committee Chair: Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley

Committee and Subcommittee Chairs
Accountability and Administrative Review Committee: Jim Frazier, D-Oakley
Budget Subcommittee No. 2 (Education Finance): Susan Bonilla, D-Concord
Business, Professions & Consumer Protection Committee: Rich Gordon, D-Los Altos
Education Committee: Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo
Elections and Redistricting Committee: Paul Fong, D-Mountain View
Judiciary Committee: Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont
Public Employees, Retirement & Social Security Committee: Rob Bonta, D-Alameda
Public Safety Committee: Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco

Also, Fong was elected chairman of the Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.

Posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2012
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, Jim Frazier, Kevin Mullin, Nancy Skinner, Nora Campos, Paul Fong, Rich Gordon, Rob Bonta, Susan Bonilla, Tom Ammiano | No Comments »