Governor works late to sign or veto bills on last day of session

Gov. Jerry Brown reviews a measure with staff members Camille Wagner, left, Graciela Castillo-Krings at his Capitol office, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Sunday is the last day for Brown to approve or veto bills passed by the legislature. Brown, who will be leaving office in January, is acting on some on the last pieces of legislation in his tenure as governor. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed a measure that would have required public university student health centers to provide abortion medication by no later than Jan. 1, 2022.

Brown noted in his veto message that “the average distance to abortion providers in campus communities varies from five to seven miles, not an unreasonable distance.”

“Because the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary,” he wrote.

To pay for the cost of implementation, the bill would have required $9.6 million in private funding to provide a $200,000 grant to all public universities. It also would have provided a $200,000 grant to both the University of California and California State University systems to provide 24-hour telephone patient support for abortion medication recipients.

When the bill’s author, Connie Leyva, D-Chino, introduced the bill, she said that “a woman should always have the right to decide when she incorporates a family into her life.”

She vowed Sunday to reintroduce the proposal next session“As the Trump Administration continues to unravel many of the critical health care protections and services for women, legislation such as this is urgently needed to make sure that Californians are able to access the full range of reproductive care regardless of where they may live,” Leyva said in a statement.

“As the Trump Administration continues to unravel many of the critical health care protections and services for women, legislation such as this is urgently needed to make sure that Californians are able to access the full range of reproductive care regardless of where they may live,” Leyva said in a statement.

Also Sunday, Brown signed Assembly Bill 1976, which starting next year, requires employers to provide their workers with a private area that is not a bathroom to pump.

The measure, by Assemblywoman Monique Limón, D-Goleta, allows businesses to apply for an exemption if they can show that making a space available for breast pumping would be an undue hardship.

Existing law already requires employers to make a reasonable effort to provide both a lactation space that is not a bathroom stall and breaks for workers who need to pump breast milk.

Proponents of AB 1976 argued that the bill would create cleaner and safer areas for pumping. They noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children be fed breast milk until at least six months of age, but an unsupportive work environment presents a significant hurdle to many mothers, especially women of color.

Opponents said the bill would be onerous for employers, and that it will expose them to frivolous lawsuits.

Brown vetoed another measure, Senate Bill 937, that would have gone even further by requiring amenities such as access to a power source and either a refrigerator or cooler in the private pumping area.

California will also require its workers to take regular sexual harassment training and forbid secret settlements when they sue their employers.

Brown on Sunday signed several bills that aim to prevent workplace harassment and help victims of sexual misconduct seek justice.

After explosive reporting last fall uncovered widespread abuse by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, the #MeToo movement ignited a national discussion on sexual harassment, including in California politics.

Lawmakers responded this session by passing more than a dozen measures that experts said could make the state a national leader on the issue.

Among the proposals Brown signed were:

▪ Senate Bill 820, by Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, which prohibits secret settlements and non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases. While a victim could choose to keep his or her name private, the perpetrator’s identity cannot be confidential. “For decades, secret settlements have been used by wealthy and well-connected perpetrators to offend repeatedly with no public accountability,” Leyva said in a statement. “This critical legislation will empower victims and offer them the opportunity to finally say #TimesUp to those that have hurt them.”

▪ Senate Bill 1300, by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, which forbids companies from requiring their workers to sign releases of liability as a condition of continued employment or in exchange for a bonus. “California is stating clearly that we believe and support victims,” Jackson said in a statement.

▪ Senate Bill 1343, by Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, which expands a biannual sexual harassment training mandate to nearly all California employees.

▪ Assembly Bill 1619, by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, which provides victims up to a decade to seek civil damages from a sexual assault.

▪ Senate Bill 419, by Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, which prohibits the Legislature from firing or discriminating against an employee or lobbyist who files a harassment complaint. It also requires the Senate and Assembly to maintain records of harassment complaints for at least 12 years.

▪ Assembly Bill 2055, by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Greenbrae, which adds information about the Legislature’s sexual harassment policy to ethics training for lobbyists.

▪ Assembly Bill 3118, by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, which requires a statewide audit of untested rape kits. “Given the current national conversation around sexual assault, it is more important now than ever that survivors of sexual assault know that California is working to get them the justice they deserve,” Chiu said in a statement.

Brown vetoed a handful of bills that he said went too far, including:

▪ Assembly Bill 1867, by Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, D-Grand Terrace, which would have mandated that large companies maintain records of sexual harassment complaints for at least five years after the end of the alleged harasser’s employment. Brown said in his veto message that the time expansion, which could lead to even unsubstantiated claims being maintained for decades, was “unwarranted.”

Assembly Bill 2713, by Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, which requires the state to publish an annual report on sexual harassment reports and settlements in California government agencies. The Bee reported last year that the state does not officially track such cases across departmental lines. Brown said the measure “covers an important topic but current management practices are taking the necessary steps to assure a suitable work environment.”

Earlier in the year, the Legislature extended whistleblower protections to Capitol employees and developed a new process for reporting and investigating internal complaints of sexual harassment.

Current and former staff had complained of a culture of fear and retaliation, which women said discouraged them from reporting pervasive harassment and allowed it to go unpunished. Three members ultimately resigned amid public allegations of sexual misconduct, and complaints were lodged against at least four more.

Sacramento Bee staff writer Andrew Sheeler contributed to this report.

Source: https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/09/30/abortion-pill-mandate-for-state-universities-vetoed-by-brown/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s