Governor wields veto pen on spending and new regulations

Governor wields veto pen on spending and new regulations

(Calif.) Among his last acts as arbiter over the creation of new state laws, Gov. Jerry vetoed legislation that would have expanded teacher training on LGBTQ issues, created a new mentorship program for special education instructors, and enhanced protections for victims of sexual harassment.

Between the end of the legislative session and the Oct. 1 deadline, Brown dispatched more than 1,200 bills—signing just over 1,000 of them and rejecting about 200.

As he has in past years, Brown was once again careful to resist establishing new services or programs, even though he will leave a surplus of close to $14 billion by the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Brown has also been famously prudent when it came to adding new regulations on to local governments and business, even if the political optics of his position raised eyebrows.

A good example of this resolve might be found in his veto of AB 3081 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego—a bill brought forward as a result of the #Metoo movement that would have prohibited an employer from firing or otherwise retaliating against a worker because of that person’s status as a victim of sexual harassment.

In arguing for the bill, Gonzalez Fletcher said the specific prohibition was needed to specifically protect workers in agriculture, hospitality, retail and other service industries that “have been overlooked in the mainstream conversation.”

Her bill passed out of both chambers largely along party lines, but Brown was not moved.

“This bill creates a new, ill-defined standard of joint liability between labor contractors and client employers, prohibits both entities from retaliating against an employee who has filed a harassment claim, and establishes a 30-day notice requirement before certain workers can file a civil action against a client employer,” Brown said in his veto message.

“Most of the provisions in this bill are contained in current law and are therefore unnecessary,” he explained. “To the extent there are new provisions, they are confusing.”

Another Gonzalez Fletcher bill, AB3120, drew Brown’s red pen even though, once again, the Assemblywoman was to some degree responding to a pressing national controversy: childhood sexual assault.

This bill would have extended the time that a victim of sexual abuse could seek civil damages to either age 40 or within 5 years of the date the plaintiff discovers the psychological injury.

Brown said he vetoed a similar bill in 2013 and his view has not changed.

“The bill now before me, AB 3120, is broader than SB 131, does not fully address the inequity between state defendants and others, and provides a longer revival period for otherwise barred claims,” he said. “For these reasons, as well as those previously enumerated in the veto message referenced above, I cannot sign this bill.”

Other bills that received Brown’s veto:

  • AB 3188 by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, which would have added to district annual reporting requirements the percentage of students passing college entrance courses as well as career technical education programs;
  • SB 933 by Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, which would have created a new state grant supporting visual and performing arts;
  • AB 2168 by Thurmond, which would have provided state funds to support mentorship programs for special education teachers;
  • AB 2772 by Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, which would have offered districts a state grant to fund ethnic studies.

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