Last-Minute Laws, Hijinks, in Legislature

The final days of the state Legislature are known for last-minute deals, dust-ups and hijinks. This week has been no exception.

Over the last two days, the state Senate has bottled up two major bills sponsored by Assemblyman Dave Jones, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee. The first allocates $10 million for civil-case language interpreters. The second — the annual Judiciary omnibus bill — makes 32 technical changes to existing judicial laws.

The bills, according to witnesses on the floor, were held up at the request of departing Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Santa Ana. You may recall that Dunn earlier this summer held up a Jones bill to bolster donations to legal aid agencies. Dunn said he was worried about possible unintentional consequences of the bill, but legal aid advocates wondered whether the senator was retaliating against Jones for endorsing his opponent in the state controller’s race, John Chiang. Dunn eventually released the bill — which was recently signed into law by the governor — but not before railing against The Recorder and legal aid groups for suggesting his actions were politically motivated.

The Senate — with Dunn’s vote — did just pass a third Jones bill, a conservatorship reform measure that is procedurally tied to three other bills authored by state senators. When the bill came up, Senate leader Don Perata said, somewhat sarcastically, “Oh, a Jones bill.”

Neither Dunn nor Jones have said what the hold-up is on the two bills. But time is running out to pass them.

 

The governor has signed more than three dozen bills into law over the last few days. As a little service Legal Pad highlights some of interest to the legal community:

AB 1995: Allows a trial court employee to review any personnel file that a supervisor keeps on him or her. A union representing Los Angeles County Superior Court workers alleged that managers shared confidential “unofficial” files among themselves to hamper promotions or to document alleged disciplinary problems.

AB 2301: Creates a task force that will recommend a program to allow State Bar members to donate directly to legal aid services, possibly through a check-off system on their Bar dues payment form.

SB 1441: This Equality California-sponsored bill prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in any state-funded program, such as CalWORKS, food stamps and Medi-Cal.

Cheryl Miller

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