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Licenses for illegals, teacher dismissal bills go to governor’s desk

Posted: September 15, 2013 3:30 p.m.
Updated: September 15, 2013 3:30 p.m.

SANTA CLARITA - The end of the latest legislative session in California was a sprint to the finish line.

The most recent session ended Friday, leading to a flurry of votes as representatives looked to clear their desks ahead of a legislative hiatus that will last until January.

For instance, Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, estimated that he had taken part in more than 100 votes on Thursday and Friday.

Out of those votes came several notable pieces of legislation that are now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, including a bill to fund construction of an earthquake detection system for California and another to increase the state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour.

The Signal asked legislators who represent the Santa Clarita Valley their thoughts on some of the other major bills to come out of the recent session.

Driver’s licenses

Assembly Bill 60, which would allow immigrants who are in the country illegally to obtain California driver’s licenses, was perhaps one of the biggest surprise bills to win passage this week, as it had been all but left for dead after its sponsor pulled it from consideration.

The bill made its way back to the floor, however, and the Democrat-dominated Assembly and Senate passed it on a largely party-line vote.

Wilk voted against the bill, as did fellow Republican Sen. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale.

“Obviously the federal government needs to address the immigration issue, but that’s not our job as state legislators,” Wilk said, noting he was “adamantly opposed” to the bill.

The freshman Assemblyman from Santa Clarita also said he sees the bill as a slippery slope that could lead to further concessions for those who are in the country illegally.

“It defies common sense,” he said.

Knight could not be reached for comment Friday.

Assemblyman Steve Fox, D-Palmdale, who voted in favor of the bill, said the bill offers benefits because it requires undocumented immigrants to obtain insurance and take driving exams, which would make the roads safer in the long run.

“I believe this will improve safety for everyone,” he said.

Those points were echoed by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, who did not vote on the bill.

“Because they’re out on the road whether we like it or not,” she said of the need for licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Fox also said the measure would save the state money.

“By making drivers safer, we will reduce medical costs, the cost of insurance and also, by not detaining unlicensed drivers, taxpayers will save millions of dollars by reducing the costs associated with incarceration and judicial processing,” Fox said.

Teacher dismissals

Proponents say another passed bill, Assembly Bill 375, would speed and streamline the process of dismissing teachers accused of misconduct, such as the Los Angeles elementary school teacher who was charged with lewd conduct with students earlier this year.

“As a teacher, I never wanted to and certainly don’t want to teach with a teacher who might be engaging in any type of misconduct,” said Pavley, who voted in favor of the measure.

But critics, including Wilk, claim teachers’ unions hijacked the legislation, turning it into what Wilk calls a “pathetic attempt at reform.”

“Honestly it’s an incremental reform and it’s not going to make much of a difference,” Wilk said.

Primarily, the bill would eliminate the summer break moratorium on teacher suspensions, requires districts to begin a disciplinary hearing within six months after an employee requests it and cap the number of witnesses who can testify at a disciplinary hearing at five.

Fox voted in favor of the bill. Knight voted against it.

‘Snoopy’ plates

The end of the legislative sessions also brought good news to fans of Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip, as state legislators gave the OK to a bill that will allow the sale of license plates featuring the character “Snoopy.”

Money generated from the sale of the license plates would help fund museums and science centers throughout the state.

“They found a really creative and unique way to make money,” Pavley said.

Fox spokeswoman Sandra Kramer called it “an adorable way to support museums.”

“It’s not coming out of the taxpayer’s pockets in the form of a fee,” she said. “It’s a voluntary choice to get Snoopy on your car.”

Wilk said he is looking at introducing a similar bill that would raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of America.

Should Brown sign the Snoopy bill, the Department of Motor Vehicles would require at least 7,500 pre-orders of the specialized plates before it would issue them.

But some think that shouldn’t be too big of an issue.

“Everybody’s a fan of Snoopy,” Pavley said.


On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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