Sweep­ing bills pass as ses­sion con­cludes

San Francisco Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By Melody Gu­tier­rez

SACRA­MENTO — State Senate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem Kevin de León sat in a black leather tufted chair in his or­nate Capi­tol of­fice, ex­hausted but de­ter­mined to set the story line for the leg­isla­tive ses­sion that closed just be­fore 2:30 Satur­day morn­ing.

“This will go down as one of the most ac­com­plished, sto­ried leg­isla­tive years in the his­tory of the Cal­i­for­nia state Leg­is­la­ture,” de León said, sum­ma­riz­ing a year in which the Demo­cratic-led body opened with an ag­gres­sive tone to­ward Pres­i­dent Trump, a re­sis­tance theme that con­tin­ued un­til the ses­sion’s fi­nal day, nine months later.

But while Democrats re­sponded at length to ev­ery per­ceived pres­i­den­tial mis­step, much to the an­noy­ance of their state Repub­li­can coun­ter­parts, law­mak­ers also passed sweep­ing and of­ten con­tro­ver­sial mea­sures through­out the year, con­clud­ing Satur­day by send­ing Gov. Jerry Brown bills that would ded­i­cate bil­lions to­ward build­ing af­ford­able hous­ing, cre­ate a statewide sanc­tu­ary pol­icy,

end life­time reg­is­tra­tion for some sex of­fend­ers and waive class fees for first-year com­mu­nity col­lege stu­dents.

In April, law­mak­ers passed a $52 bil­lion plan to pay for roads and bridges by rais­ing gas taxes and cre­at­ing a new ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion fee.

Meet­ing its June dead­line, the Leg­is­la­ture ap­proved a $125 bil­lion gen­eral fund bud­get — the largest in state his­tory — that in­creased tax cred­its for the poor, put bil­lions more to­ward ed­u­ca­tion and in­creased pay­ments for doc­tors and den­tists who see pa­tients on Medi-Cal, the state’s Med­i­caid pro­gram for the poor.

“Cu­mu­la­tively, I think there has been a lot of sig­nif­i­cant ac­com­plish­ments this year, and it’s only the first year of a two-year ses­sion,” said state Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda.

The Repub­li­can mi­nor­ity, though, said Democrats spent too much time pla­cat­ing their anti-Trump base and too of­ten asked tax­pay­ers for more money.

Un­der a pack­age of 15 hous­ing bills sent to Brown on Fri­day, for ex­am­ple, the two main sources of fund­ing are new fees on real es­tate doc­u­ments and prop­erty trans­ac­tions, and a pro­posed $4 bil­lion bond mea­sure that will go be­fore vot­ers.

The Leg­is­la­ture also agreed to ask vot­ers to ap­prove a $4 bil­lion bond mea­sure for wa­ter, flood and parks projects.

“Rarely has so much dam­age been in­flicted on Cal­i­for­nia’s mid­dle class dur­ing a leg­isla­tive ses­sion,” said Jon Coupal, pres­i­dent of the Howard Jarvis Tax­pay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. “While leg­is­la­tors of both par­ties worked over­time to pro­tect spe­cial in­ter­ests, work­ing Cal­i­for­ni­ans are now bur­dened by high taxes, new fees and reg­u­la­tions that will make life more dif­fi­cult for them and their fam­i­lies.”

Democrats in­tro­duced two dozen res­o­lu­tions and bills op­pos­ing Trump in some way, in­clud­ing one call­ing on the pres­i­dent “to re­sign for the good of the coun­try” in a res­o­lu­tion by Assem­bly­man Evan Low, D-San Jose, that was never put up for a vote. An­other res­o­lu­tion, by Assem­bly­man Tony Thur­mond, D-Rich­mond, that sup­ported a con­gres­sional cen­sure of Trump passed the Assem­bly Fri­day.

That res­o­lu­tion prompted Assem­bly­man Matthew Harper, R-Hunt­ing­ton Beach (Or­ange County), to ask just how many non­bind­ing res­o­lu­tions re­gard­ing Trump would pass this year.

“For the 12th time, I get it, the Democrats in this body don’t like Trump,” Harper said.

While Democrats of­ten at­tacked the pres­i­dent in long and damn­ing floor speeches, they also passed sev­eral bills that ad­vo­cates say of­fer hope and pro­tec­tion for im­mi­grants wor­ried about Trump’s pro­posed crack­down.

Among the most ex­ten­sive was SB54, by de León, which would bar lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies from co­op­er­at­ing with the fed­eral Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment agency on de­por­ta­tions, ex­cept in cases in which im­mi­grants had been con­victed of cer­tain crimes. The sanc­tu­ary state bill passed the Assem­bly 49-25, and 27-11 in the Senate, on the fi­nal day of the ses­sion.

“Re­sis­tance means dif­fer­ent things, but as the leader of the Senate, we will move for­ward with busi­ness as usual to im­prove the qual­ity of life for Cal­i­for­ni­ans, but at the same time if (the Trump administration) con­tin­ues to be hos­tile to our state, threat­en­ing to with­hold dol­lars, vi­o­lat­ing our val­ues as a state, we will re­sist and we will de­fend and pro­tect the peo­ple of Cal­i­for­nia,” de León said.

Law­mak­ers and Brown agreed last week to set aside $30 mil­lion to help im­mi­grants af­fected by Trump’s de­ci­sion to re­scind a pro­gram that shields thou­sands from de­por­ta­tion, with that money go­ing to pro­vide le­gal help and col­lege fi­nan­cial aid for par­tic­i­pants in the cur­tailed De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram.

“There are so many things we’ve done to de­fend our­selves from what Don­ald Trump wants to do to our coun­try,” said Assem­by­man David Chiu, D-San Fran­cisco.

Among them: SB450 by Chiu, which would pro­hibit em­ploy­ers from al­low­ing fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion agents to con­duct raids in the work­place un­less there is a war­rant, and AB699 by Assem­bly­man Pa­trick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, and Chiu, which would limit ci­ti­zen­ship in­for­ma­tion col­lected by schools to en­sure a per­son’s im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus is not com­pro­mised.

State Sen. Ri­cardo Lara, D-Bell Gar­dens (Los An­ge­les County), said he will push for a bill that bans fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion agents from schools and sta­te­owned build­ings with­out a war­rant when the Leg­is­la­ture re­turns in Jan­uary to be­gin the se­cond half of its two-year ses­sion.

Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

State Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, is joined by law­mak­ers Fri­day to dis­cuss hous­ing bills that the Leg­is­la­ture passed.

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