It was a busy day in Sacramento.
Here's a recap of some of what the lawmakers and the governor did this Monday.
- California would officially end a requirement that a state agency research the causes and cures for homosexuality under a bill approved by the state Senate. The bill updating a 60-year-old law was sent back to the Assembly Monday for final action. The law passed in 1950 classifies gays as sexual deviants. It requires the Department of Mental Health to research the causes and potential cures for homosexuality. The bill, AB2199, was carried by Sen. Roy Ashburn, a Republican from Bakersfield. Ashburn revealed he was gay earlier this year after he was cited for driving drunk while leaving a gay bar. The measure passed the Senate on 36-0 vote without debate.
- California health insurance providers would be prohibited from raising their rates more than once a year under a bill moving through the state Legislature. The state Senate on Monday voted 21-13 in favor of AB2042. The bill now moves to the Assembly. It would apply to individual health care policies, not group plans. Supporters say the measure would provide Californians with greater predictability when it comes to their health insurance. Opponents include some of the state's largest health insurers. They say breaking up fee increases throughout the year reduces the financial burden on consumers. The legislation would take effect in January, three years before the new federal health care law is set to kick in.
- California lawmakers are asking President Barack Obama and Congress to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, saying it discriminates against same-sex married couples. The state Senate voted 22-12 Monday for a resolution urging that the 1996 law be overturned. It defines marriage as being between a man and a woman and allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The Assembly approved AJR19 last August. Critics of the Defense of Marriage Act say it deprives gay couples of important federal rights and benefits. California voted in 2008 to ban gay marriage. On Aug. 4, a federal judge overturned the ban, sending the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state's controller and treasurer are delaying $2.9 billion in payments to school districts and counties a month earlier than expected. The leaders on Monday issued a joint letter notifying state lawmakers of their need to make debt and pension payments as the impasse over California's $19 billion budget shortfall drags on. That means school districts and counties won't be paid in September as expected.Bob Wells, executive director of the Association of California School Administrators, says the state is only shifting its problems onto school districts. The Legislature in February gave authority to the three officers to delay payments over a three-month period to help manage the state's cash flow.
- Television commercials promoting California tourism and agricultural products must be filmed inside the state under a bill now going before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Senate approved a bill Monday by Sen. Alan Lowenthal requiring that taxpayer-funded ads to promote the state also help boost California's jobs and economy.Democratic Assemblyman Ted Lieu of Torrance introduced the bill, AB1778, after the California Milk Advisory Board filmed part of a "happy California cows" campaign in New Zealand. Lowenthal, a Democrat from Long Beach, carried the bill in the Senate, where it passed on a 24-12 vote without debate. It now goes to Schwarzenegger.