April 18, 2013

LAWT News Service

 

Assembly Member Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) announced a new bill designed to increase safety for cyclists on California’s roads, making cities more livable and environmentally friendly.

AB 1371, known as the Three Feet for Safety Act, establishes a minimum three-foot barrier for automobiles passing bicycles on California streets.

“Bicycles have as much right as anyone to use the public streets,” Bradford said. “Everyone needs to share the road, and cyclists deserve legal protection to ensure their safety.”

Some recent high profile traffic accidents involving bicycles have sparked calls for increased protections for cyclists. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa broke his elbow in 2010 in a traffic accident while riding his bike.

Mayor Villaraigosa is joining Assembly Member Bradford next Sunday, April 21st, at CicLAvia, the 15-mile closed-streets bicycle event.

“I am thrilled to join Mayor Villaraigosa at CicLAvia which will, for the first time, come to the 62nd District by way of Venice,” Bradford said. “This is a great event to raise awareness of cyclists’ right to ride safely on our city streets, and this bill will do the same.”

Bradford will join the Mayor at a 9:30am kick-off press conference on Olvera Street on April 21st before riding off towards Venice.

AB 1371 comes before the Transportation Committee April 22nd. Supporters can sign onto a petition at http://signon.org/sign/three-feet-please, and show their support by using the hashtag #3feet4safety, or calling members of the Committee (http://atrn.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff) to urge their approval.

Assembly Member Steven Bradford represents the 62nd Assembly District, comprised of the cities of Hawthorne, Lawndale, Inglewood, and El Segundo, and the communities of North Gardena, Westchester, Venice, and Del Rey, and parts of Westmont and Park Mesa Heights.

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April 18, 2013

By ERICA WERNER

Associated Press

 

A bipartisan immigration bill soon to be introduced in the Senate could exclude hundreds of thousands of immigrants here illegally from ever becoming U.S. citizens, according to a Senate aide with knowledge of the proposals.

The bill would bar anyone who arrived in the U.S. after Dec. 31, 2011, from applying for legal status and ultimately citizenship, according to the aide, who was not authorized to discuss the proposals before they were made public and spoke on condition of anonymity.

It also would require applicants to document that they were in the country before Dec. 31, 2011, have a clean criminal record and show enough employment or financial stability that they're likely to stay off welfare.

Those requirements could exclude hundreds of thousands of the 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally from the path to citizenship envisioned by the bill, the aide said.

Although illegal immigration to the U.S. has been dropping, many tens of thousands still arrive each year, so the cutoff date alone could exclude a large number of people. That may come as a disappointment to immigrant rights groups that had been hoping that anyone here as of the date of enactment of the bill could be able to become eligible for citizenship.

But Republicans in the immigration negotiating group had sought strict criteria on legal enforcement and border security as the price for their support for a path to citizenship, which is still opposed by some as amnesty. Details on the criminal record requirement were still being finalize,d but anyone with a felony conviction was likely to be excluded, the aide said.

The new details emerged as negotiators reached agreement on all the major elements of the sweeping legislation.

After months of closed-door negotiations, the “Gang of Eight” senators, equally divided between the two parties, had no issues left to resolve in person, and no more negotiating sessions were planned. Remaining details were left to aides, who were at work completing drafts of the bill.

“All issues that rise to the member level have been dealt with,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Thursday. “All that is left is the drafting.”

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said the bill probably would be introduced on Tuesday.

The landmark legislation would overhaul legal immigration programs, require all employers to verify the legal status of their workers, greatly boost border security and put millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally on a 13-year path to citizenship. A top second-term priority for President Barack Obama, it would enact the biggest changes to U.S. immigration law in more than a quarter-century.

Deals gelled over the past two days on a new farm-worker program and visas for high-tech workers, eliminating the final substantive disputes on the legislation.

Next will come the uncertain public phase as voters and other lawmakers get a look at the measure. Already, some conservatives have made it clear their opposition will be fierce.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., complained that the bill would ensure that millions get amnesty but border enforcement never happens.

“This is also why it is so troubling that (Senate Judiciary Chair­man Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.) has rejected the GOP request for multiple hearings and that members of the Gang of Eight have publicly announced their intention to oppose any amendments,” Sessions said in a statement Thursday. “To proceed along these lines is tantamount to an admission that the bill is not workable and will not withstand public scrutiny.”

Pro-immigrant activists also were gearing up for a fight even as they expressed optimism that this time, Congress will succeed in passing an immigration overhaul bill. Many of those pushing for the legislation were involved in the last major immigration fight, in 2007, when a bill came close on the Senate floor but ultimately failed.

“I think it’s a pretty remarkable breakthrough that eight ideologically diverse senators are working so well together on such a challenging issue,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a group advocating for an overhaul of U.S. immigration policy. “And I think the fact that they’ve come up with a bill they can all support and defend suggests that it’s the heart of a bill that will finally pass into law.”

Once the legislation is introduced, it will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday and likely will begin to amend and vote on the bill the week of May 6. From there, the bill would move to the Senate floor.

Both in committee and on the floor, the bill could change in unpredictable ways as senators try to amend it from the left and the right. The Gang of Eight — Schumer, Durbin, and Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo. — have discussed banding together to defeat amendments that could significantly alter the legislation.

Even more uncertain, though, is the Republican-led House, where a bipartisan group is also crafting an immigration bill, though timing of its release is uncertain. Many conservatives in the House remain opposed to citizenship for immigrants who have been living in the U.S. illegally.

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April 11, 2013

By LAWT News Service

 

Last weekend, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) spoke out on the need for Congress to enact comprehensive reforms to reduce gun violence in America. 

Her remarks came as President Obama traveled back to Connecticut to again urge Congress to adhere to the wishes of 90 percent of Americans who favor tougher gun laws.

Speaking at both a town hall hosted by her Congressional Office as well as a forum with local NAACP leaders on Saturday April 6, Bass reiterated her commitment to fighting for tougher gun laws and doing more to ensure that reform efforts include provisions related to mental health and the impacts of chronic violence in urban communities.

Following the events, Bass said:

“Everywhere I travel across the 37th Congressional District, I am reminded that Americans want and deserve a vote on comprehensive measures to reduce gun violence.  When 90 percent of Americans agree on an issue, it’s time for Congress to stop all the political posturing and deliver for our constituents and all those who have lost their lives or the life of a loved one to senseless gun violence. I support Presi­dent Obama in his calls for Congress to act on this issue and I urge my Republican colleagues to end their threats to filibuster the desires of an overwhelming majority of the Ameri­can people so that both the House and Senate can enact common sense reforms.”

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April 18, 2013

LAWT News Service

 

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, issued the following statement regarding the announcement by the United States Postal Service that it is canceling a proposal to eliminate mail delivery on Saturdays:

"I strongly advocated against the proposal to eliminate Saturday mail delivery by the United States Postal Service (USPS) and I am pleased that USPS has finally withdrawn its proposal to end Saturday letter mail delivery this summer. The elimination of six-day mail delivery would have resulted in the loss of much needed local jobs. Further, this decision would have disrupted a service upon which thousands of residents in our district utilize to receive important personal, financial, and business correspondence. 

"In 2011, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to close more than 10 percent of its 36,000 post offices throughout the country.  I immediately called on USPS to consider alternatives to this plan.  Last year, I introduced legislation, the Protecting Post Offices Act, which would not only protect the American postal worker but assist in making the U.S. Postal Service profitable by keeping local post offices open, and increasing their functionality to better serve their communities. I was joined by the National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO and the American Postal Workers Union in support of my bill to stabilize USPS.

"For years, I have supported sound measures that would improve USPS. I will continue to monitor the U.S. Postal Service closely and push for Saturday mail delivery to remain in place permanently, so all Californians can have reliable mail service."

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April 11, 2013

By TERRY COLLINS

Associated Press

 

(AP) — The last call for drinks is 2 a.m. in California, but one lawmaker believes that’s just too early to set down the shot glasses and beer steins.

State Sen. Mark Leno’s proposal to let the liquor flow until 4 a.m. as a way to draw more tourists — and with them more revenue and jobs — is already spawning a sharp debate from Sacramento to watering holes in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Leno said the measure would make the state more competitive with other hotspots like New York, Las Vegas and Miami that serve alcohol later into the wee hours of the morning or 24 hours a day.

Night-spot owners say a later last call will be good for business, but law enforcement officials argue that it increases the chances that cities will see more public drunkenness, violence, drunken driving and possibly fatalities.

Leno’s proposal, however, wouldn’t set a uniform standard across the state. Instead, it would give each municipality the option to push their last call back to 4 a.m.

“It will be up to the cities whether they want to participate or not,” said the San Francisco Democrat, whose district encompasses clubs in the trendy South of Market district. His bill is expected to get its first public committee hearing on April 23.

At Steff’s, a sports bar near the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park, patron Armand Gaerlan liked the idea of a 4 a.m. last call. “I’ve lived in New York City. If it’s working there, it can definitely happen here,” said Gaerlan, who thinks the move would allow for making later dinner reservations.

At nearby Nova Bar and Rest­aurant, customer Kendra Chrysler said it was a bad idea. “I’ll pass. I feel like nothing good happens after 2 a.m.,” she said.

In Los Angeles, there is a buzz about a later last call, said Barbara Jacobs, chief operating officer at a 1920’s-themed downtown nightspot, The Edison. She said the bar is making plans for a midnight breakfast and cocktail menu in case the proposal passes.

“We’re creatively driven and so we’re going to take advantage of it,” she said.

Industry groups such as the California Restaurant Association and the Hollywood Hospitality Coalition are endorsing the 4 a.m. last call.

Los Angeles hosted a record 41.4 million visitors last year, one million more than in 2011. And, the city said, guests spent more than $16 billion in 2012. The San Francisco Travel Association said the city drew 16.5 million tourists who spent nearly $9 billion in 2012, up from the previous year.

Jim Lazarus, a senior vice president for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said he believes it will be especially appealing to businesses already with after-hours permits to stay open past 2 a.m. — without serving alcohol.

“There’s clearly a demand,” he said. “I think the younger population, especially the young tech workers — they’re working hours that are different from the traditional 9 to 5. They work later, so they party later.”

However, law enforcement officials argue that establishments serving alcohol past 2 a.m. will produce significant problems.

John Lovell, a lobbyist for the Sacramento-based California Police Chiefs Association, said an extended last call will further stretch many depleted law enforcement agencies that will be forced to monitor inebriated patrons when the bars close.

“That will be a whole new dynamic with those leaving a bar at 4 a.m. hitting the road when the early commute is in progress,” Lovell said. “That brings a whole new danger.”

Although San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said he thinks the extended hours are a bad idea, Leno’s bill has the support of Mayor Ed Lee, who said that if the bill becomes law he would seek input from police, local bar owners and neighborhood leaders before the city opts for a late last call.

Leno said he authored a last call bill geared for San Francisco in 2004, which was rejected by the state Assembly. But he expects this one to fare better because it leaves the ultimate decisions with the cities.

Ludwig Chincarini, an associate economics professor at the University of San Francisco, said recent studies in the U.S. and abroad do not provide very clear links between longer last calls and impacts on crime and local economies.

Extended drinking hours may add more tax revenue, particularly from tourists, Chincarini said, but they are unlikely to bring a windfall to major California cities.

“The tourists who already come here could take advantage of possibly drinking for an extra couple of hours, that’s all,” he said. “I don’t think people are going to be traveling to San Francisco and Los Angeles to get the ... Las Vegas experience in terms of extensive drinking and partying.”

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