This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at IBAbuzz.com/politics.
Amid the avalanche of bills now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown's signature or veto is one born in Oakland that would streamline state food assistance applications to increase the number of kids and families receiving aid.
Assembly Bill 402 by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, would let families seeking free and reduced-price school lunches also apply for the CalFresh food-stamp program at the same time, on one application.
CalFresh is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is available to those with maximum gross income of 130 percent of the federal poverty level ($28,665 for a family of four) and a net income of 100 percent of federal poverty guidelines, and who have lived in the country for five years; are receiving disability-related benefits; or are children younger than 18.
The bill was conceived in part at the Alameda County Community Food Bank. The food bank says the adjustments to the application and added processing time would carry minimal costs but could bring enormous benefits to California, which currently ranks second-to-last in food stamp use.
"Although 3.4 million children are now eligible for school meal programs, a large number of these children and their families
The food bank estimates Alameda County alone could see an extra $107 million per year in federal funding if the bill becomes law.
The bill's legislative analyses showed no opponents on record. The Assembly passed AB 402 in June on a 51-24 vote; the state Senate passed it Aug. 22 on a 24-10 vote; and the Assembly concurred with the Senate's amendments Aug. 25 on a 52-25 vote, sending it to the governor's desk.
-- Josh Richman
I guess this isn't much of an update, in that nobody knows what's going to happen.
Assembly Bill 144 by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, would make it a crime to openly carry an unloaded handgun in any public place or street. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by as much as one year in jail and/or a fine of as much as $1,000. Law enforcement personnel are exempt, as are security guards, hunters and others carrying unloaded weapons under specified licensed circumstances.
The Assembly passed the bill in May on a 46-29 vote, and after gun-rights activists spent the summer leaning on state senators to oppose the bill, the Senate approved it on a 21-18 vote last Thursday. The Assembly then concurred with the Senate's amendments last Friday with a 48-30 vote, sending the bill to Gov. Brown's desk.
And there it sits, fate unknown. Someone in Brown's office told me today he's not sure what the governor will do; the Sacramento Bee is reporting that Brown says he's going to be vetoing a slew of bills in the next few weeks, believing many of them just aren't necessary. I'd talked with Portantino's office yesterday, where they said they're "cautiously optimistic" but unsure where the governor stands.
Meanwhile, the bill's opponents keep working the social media, trying to get people to call Brown's office to urge a veto.
"And if Gov. Brown does decide to sign AB 144, it is almost certain that the law will be challenged in court," Adnan Shahab of Fremont, president of Responsible Citizens of California and a Republican candidate in the 20th Assembly District, said in an email he sent me late last week. "There are constitutional issues that must addressed, as well as how this law relates to the recent court ruling that the highly discriminatory shall-issue concealed weapons permitting process in California is legal partly because open carry is also available to residents as an alternate means of carry in this state."
Gun-rights activists have seized upon open-carry laws in states across the nation as a means of expressing their political beliefs, acting individually, or gathering to carry their weapons both as an exercise of constitutional rights and for self-protection. They say they're both protecting their rights under current law as well as advocating for changes so that more people can get permits to carry concealed weapons, something that's sharply limited under current law.
Supporters of this bill, including the California Police Chiefs Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California and various gun-control groups, say open-carry practices should be banned for the sake of public safety, and to protect the safety and conserve the resources of police officers checking to ensure the guns aren't loaded, in accordance with state law.
-- Josh Richman