Sacramento Briefs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The State Capitol building in Sacramento.

    They aren't making much progress on a budget, but there are other things getting done in Sacramento.

    Here's a snapshot of what lawmakers accomplished today.

     

    • California legislators would permit cancer screenings for low-income and uninsured women in their 40s under a bill unanimously passed by the state Senate. The bill approved Wednesday would reverse a January decision by the state Department of Public Health to raise the limit for the mammography and cervical cancer tests to age 50, from 40, to save money in the state's Every Woman Counts program.The policy change follows a controversial finding by a federal panel that screenings should begin later in a woman's life. However, Democratic Sen. Christine Kehoe of San Diego says many younger women also need the cancer screenings. The bill, AB1640, passed on a 34-0 vote. It returns to the Assembly for final action.
    • Clergy who refuse to sanction same-sex marriages would be protected under a bill sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk by the state Senate. Sen. Mark Leno's bill, approved 22-11 Wednesday, could become necessary if a federal appeals court upholds a judge's ruling this month striking down Proposition 8, the state's voter-approved gay marriage ban.     The bill says religious institutions from faiths that object to same-sex unions could not be stripped of their tax-exempt status if their clergy refuse to perform weddings for gay couples.  Leno, a gay Democrat from San Francisco, defended the measure when it was opposed by Sen. Roy Ashburn, an openly gay Republican from Bakersfield. Ashburn objected that the bill defines same-sex marriages as civil relationships, which he says puts them in a lesser class than heterosexual marriages.
    • Skiers and snowboarders under age 18 would be required to wear helmets under legislation sent Wednesday to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. SB 880, authored by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would also require resorts to post signs about the law on trail maps, websites and other locations throughout the property. The Senate approved the bill on a 22-11 vote. Following the lead of California's bicycle helmet law, SB 880 would impose a fine of not more than $25 on the parents of a child who fails to wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding.Yee is teaming up with Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, who is authoring AB 1652, which would require ski resorts to develop and publish safety plans as well as submit a report to California Occupational Safety and Health Administration after any fatality occurring at the resort. AB 1652 was also approved by the Assembly on a 51-22 vote and will also be heading to the Schwarzenegger's desk.
    • Children's jewelry sold in California could not legally contain more than minuscule amounts of the toxic metal cadmium under a bill lawmakers approved Wednesday. Cadmium is a known carcinogen that has drawn international attention this year following an investigation by The Associated Press that revealed some Chinese jewelry manufacturers were substituting it for lead, which federal law has effectively banned. Lawmakers and public health officials worry that kids could suffer long-term poisoning if they suck on or bite jewelry containing cadmium, which also can harm kidneys and bones. Under California's legislation, jewelry for kids 6 and under could not contain anything over three-hundredths of a percent of cadmium starting in 2012. One piece of jewelry tested during AP's investigation was 91 percent cadmium.The state Senate passed SB929 by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, on Wednesday. It was the bill's final hurdle before reaching the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who hasn't yet taken a position.