"Egg-laying hens, pregnant pigs and calves raised for veal could not be confined in restrictive enclosures in California that did not allow them to extend their wings or limbs, under an initiative that qualified Wednesday for the Nov. 4 ballot
," reports Aurelio Rojas in the Bee.
"Sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, the Treatment of Farm Animals statute is likely to generate spirited debate between animal rights activists and farmers who contend it would raise prices for consumers.
"Since there is no veal production in California and farmers are voluntarily phasing out confining pigs in breeding crates by 2008, the initiative primarily targets the state's 19 million egg-laying hens.
, spokesman for Californians for Sound Farm Animal Agriculture, an industry group that opposes the initiative, called it "poorly" written and predicted it would raise egg prices."
"The battle over how and when health plans can cancel a patient's insurance policy
returned to the Capitol this week as two key pieces of legislation cleared the Assembly Health Committee," reports Capitol Weekly.
"At issue are the rules health insurance companies must abide by before they cancel a patient's health care coverage."
Two key bills -- one by Hector De La Torre
and another by Mary Hayashi
both moved out of the Assembly Committee. "But at the hearing Tuesday, Chairman Merv Dymally
, D-Compton, suggested merging Hayashi and De La Torre's bills together. Hayashi said Wednesday that she would be amending her bill to incorporate a third-party review similar to that in De La Torre's legislation. 'I haven't met with Hector on this yet," she said, but "if the bills become one and it is stronger for the insured, then I am more than happy to do it
"Prosecutors, crime victims and Republican lawmakers said Wednesday they are prepared to go to the ballot if the Democratic-controlled Legislature refuses to act on a package of bills to speed up California's death penalty
"At a Capitol press conference, the death penalty advocates said their proposed legislation could cut nearly in half the 15 to 20 years it now takes for the state's criminal justice system to process the cases.
"The bills would not affect appeals in the federal system that routinely extend death penalty delays even further.
"'The vast majority of Californians are in support of the death penalty, but they're frustrated because the average (delay) of 17 years is just too long, and 20, 21, 24 years is way too long,' said John Poyner
, president of the California District Attorneys Association and the chief prosecutor in Colusa County.
, executive director of San Francisco-based Death Penalty Focus, a group that staunchly opposes capital punishment, said the thrust of legislative package unveiled Wednesday "is moving in the contrary direction" of concerns expressed by some members of the public about wrongful executions."
"The state Senate's labor committee killed a bill Wednesday that would have permanently exempted government-supported organizations from having to pay their volunteers prevailing wages
," reports the Bee's Andy Furillo.
"The 3-2 party-line vote pitted Democrats who opposed Senate Bill 1345 against Republicans who backed it.
"Democratic Sen. Sheila Kuehl
of Los Angeles said her party supports another bill pending in the Legislature that would extend the exemption, set to expire Dec. 31, for three years rather than making it permanent.
"'That's the right solution,' Kuehl said after the hearing.
"SB 1345 author Sen. Roy Ashburn
, R-Bakersfield, said he is opposed to extending the sunset provision and that the exemption should be made permanent."
"Opposed by the state's two public pension funds and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, an assemblyman withdrew a bill Wednesday that would have prevented the funds from investing in private-equity firms partly owned by foreign governments with poor human-rights records
," reports Dale Kasler in the Bee.
"Assemblyman Alberto Torrico
, D-Newark, announced he is withdrawing Assembly Bill 1967 for the time being.
"'This delay will give us time to properly address some of the concerns that have been raised,' he said in a press release.
"Officials at the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System had said the bill would have cost them billions of dollars in lost investment opportunities. On Wednesday, the governor announced his opposition in an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times.
"The bill was sponsored by the powerful Service Employees International Union, and critics said AB 1967 wasn't really about human rights. Rather, they said it was meant to help the SEIU in its struggle to organize employees of a nursing home chain owned by the private-equity firm Carlyle Group."
"A proposal to open California's retirement system to private sector workers prompted questions Wednesday about government competing with investment firms and the pension system's ability to handle the unique program
," write John Hill and Mike Glover in the Bee.
"'We just don't know if it's going to work yet,' Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries
, R-Lake Elsinore, said of the proposal to have the California Public Employees' Retirement System offer IRA accounts to workers whose employers don't offer retirement savings plans.
"The proposal, Assembly Bill 2940 by Assemblyman Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, passed its first test Wednesday when a committee that deals with retirement issues approved it on a 4-1 vote, with Jeffries abstaining and another Republican, Joel Anderson
of Alpine, voting against it."
"In the name of reducing global warming, Sen. Jim Battin
, R-La Quinta, on Tuesday unsuccessfully proposed that carpool lanes be opened to drivers with carbon credits
," writes Jake Henshaw in the Desert Sun.
"As the driver of a Lincoln Aviator with just such a credit, Battin argued that he and similar motorists deserve to use lanes now restricted to vehicles with multiple occupants or a limited number of state clean air decals.
"'If you believe in carbon credits and believe they can stop global warming, then SB 1374 is the bill for you,' Battin told the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.
"A few committee members acknowledged the long-range possibilities of his proposal, but on a 2-6 vote rejected his measure as at best premature and at worst out of step with the purpose of carpool lanes.
"'This would eliminate HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes as we understand them,' said Sen. Alan Lowenthal
, D-Long Beach, the committee chairman."
Meanwhile, the bill by Kevin Jeffries
"to decriminalize office pools and other small-time gambling operations popular with March Madness brackets, fantasy football and Super Bowls won its first contest Wednesday by sailing through the Assembly's Governmental Organization Committee on a nearly unanimous vote
," reports Edwin Garcia in the Merc News.
The bill comes too late for all you Kansas fans who are now illegally reaping the rewards of your recent office pool victory.
"The bill, AB 1852, now heads to the Public Safety Committee.
"Do sports fans really get thrown into the slammer for dropping a few bucks into a betting pool?
"Rarely. But two of Jeffries' constituents in Riverside County - one was a 73-year-old grandmother - got booked by authorities in 2006 for running a $50 football pool at the Wildomar Elks Lodge."
Hmmm...wasn't that the year former Assemblymember Rod Pacheco became Riverside DA
George Skelton writes that it's "spring cleaning time" at the Capitol, and argues for "some major remodeling."
Among the items on his list to "haul to the dump" are the supermajority required for budget and tax passage, term limits, redistricting, and the closed primary. Things that are "in sorry need for repair" include the initiative system, campaign finance rules, legislative compensation, and budgeting.
And the roof, apparently...
And from our South American Television Files
, "Venezuela has forced U.S. cartoon "The Simpsons" off its airwaves
, calling the show a potentially bad influence on children, and filled its morning slot with reruns of the beach-and-bikini show "Baywatch
"A spokesman at Venezuela's broadcasting regulator Conatel. 'They were infringing many things in the television and radio social responsibility law