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The 10 Most Controversial Laws That California Governor Jerry Brown Just Signed or Vetoed

Like a good procrastinating California politician, Governor Jerry Brown waited until the last possible second to sign over 100 bills still waiting on his desk this weekend.

So, as of Columbus Day morning, we have a whole controversy-load of new laws to make sense of. And being the stragglers of the bunch, they're naturally some of the most controversial. We'll just say this: Don't go anywhere near a SoCal Republican today, because they'll most likely bite your head off. (But only after a long-winded rant on the Second Amendment and La Raza rising.)

Without further ado, here are the 10 hottest potatoes Brown finally had to confirm or deny this weekend:

10. Yes on AB 353.

Police can no longer impound the vehicles of unlicensed drivers (aka, undocumented immigrants) at DUI checkpoints. Now, they must either allow the unlicensed driver to call a licensed friend to come get the car, or -- if no friend is available -- the impound lot must allow the licensed friend to drive it away later. (The LAPD already adopted this more forgiving method back in March). Conservatives see this bill as yet more liberal leniency for illegal aliens; indeed, it was proposed by Gil Cedillo, one of the most active immigrant advocates in the Assembly.

9. Yes on SB 746.

Minors (under the age of 18) are no longer allowed to use tanning beds. It used to be that kids under 14 were forbidden from using the ultraviolet-nuking "Jersey Shore" staples -- and those between 14 and 18 just needed parental consent -- but now the "lethally dangerous" contraptions are completely off-limits until that glorious age of porn, cigarettes and all other things sinful.

8. Yes on AB 183.

More bad news for minors, good news for worried-sick parents: Grocery stores will no longer allow alcohol sales in their self-checkout lines. As we've all experienced, the attendants at these lines are often distracted, or absent altogether, and MADD-type groups claimed this "easy access to alcohol," vending-machine style, for underage troublemakers was leading to "violent crime, car crashes" and uh, "high-risk sex."

7. No on SB 910.

Despite 1,500 letters of support from the ever-enthused cyclist community, Governor Brown made the shock move to veto a bill that would have required drivers to leave a three-foot buffer between themselves and bicycles on the road. (L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa became a posterboy for the legislation after he got knocked off his bike last summer.) In his veto message, Brown says it wasn't the three-foot rule that turned him off -- instead, he's worried about that part that allows cars to come closer, as long as they're going under 15 mph. Classic example of all or nothing, to inefficient effect.

6. Yes on AB 144.

In a push to avoid officer-involved shootings that result from on-edge misunderstandings, Brown has prohibited carrying handguns in public. Like anything gun-related, this bill has raised hell among California hicks, who've been "showing up to public places in large numbers with firearms in holsters" in protest." Yikes. Proponents argued that we're not living in the goddamn Wild West anymore, and that parading around in public with your weaponry out isn't worth the paranoia -- and fatal reactions -- that result from that right.

5. No on SB 469.

This bill was the last obstacle in the way of Wal-Mart's sneaky new plan to infiltrate California strip malls. Basically, the company's strategy is to take over big-box stores whose tenants are going out of business, and avoid filing new permits with individual cities. If Governor Brown had signed the anti-Wal Mart initiative, it would have required the company to file an economic impact report for every new location -- allowing individual cities to possibly thwart their efforts. He dismissed the bill by saying it would "add yet another layer of review to an already cumbersome process.'' Pretty sure that was the point.

4. Yes on AB 1069.

Brown ignored the shrieks of the state's most powerful labor unions to continue Schwarzenegger's Hollywood tax breaks. But considering the rate at which filmmakers are already fleeing the Golden State to do their work where it's cheaper, Brown decided the $100 million in annual tax breaks was a necessary crutch in a jobless economy. The bill should at least slow our plummeting reputation as the place to be. In the words of Brown's spokeswoman: "Entertainment is a backbone California industry, and we have a responsibility to help keep film and television production here."

3. No on SB 185.

In a move that somewhat clashes with the DREAM Act signing (below), Brown decided against letting the UC and CSU systems consider race and other socioeconomic factors in college admission. (Aka, affirmative action.) That's not because he doesn't agree with it, however. He merely thinks that decision must be left up to the 9th Circuit judges, currently determining the legality of Proposition 209, which prohibited affirmative action. "Signing this bill... will just encourage the 209 advocated to file more costly and confusing lawsuits," he writes in his veto memo. Word up.

2. Yes on AB 131.

Under the DREAM Act Part II, illegal immigrants can now receive taxpayer-funded aid to pay their college tuition. The Los Angeles Times reports that this could end up costing the state $14.5 million more per year. Needless to say, Republicans are seeing red.

1. No on SB 914.

Personal-privacy advocates, get mad: Cops can continue to search the cellphone of anyone they arrest, without a warrant. Brown argues that he didn't want to contradict the California Supreme Court's decision to allow the warrantless digital stalking; we would argue that, well, somebody needs to. Fourth Amendment advocates call BS, too -- as should any remaining celebrities with nude pics for the leaking.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]


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