September 20, 2014

Key Laws Authored by Sen. Fran Pavley Take Effect in 2014

 

SACRAMENTO, CA—A number of important measures authored by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) will take effect in 2014. A few highlights are listed below. For more details and a complete list of legislation authored by Sen. Pavley this year, visit http://sd27.senate.ca.gov/legislation/2013-legislation

Accountability and transparency for fracking and other oilfield practices: SB 4 will regulate hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), acidizing and other oil and gas well stimulation operations for the first time in California. Beginning January 1, 2014, oil and gas well operators may not perform these operations unless they test the groundwater before and after well stimulation, notify neighboring property owners and tenants and disclose all chemicals used. They must also disclose the amount and source of water to be used. In addition, the legislation requires an independent scientific study of the safety and environmental risks to inform future policy decisions, and it reserves power for the governor, courts, state agencies and local governments to impose additional restrictions.

Greater protections for child pornography victims: Senate Bill 145 addresses the fast growing crime of child pornography, which is closely linked with sexual abuse, sex trafficking and other crimes. Prior to SB 145 California had the nation's weakest child pornography sentencing laws, but the legislation will increase the maximum penalty from three years to five years for the worst offenders: those with huge collections of child pornography, those with images of children forced to endure sexual sadism or masochism, and those who use images to groom children to participate in this crime. This legislation, sponsored by Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten, will help protect California's most vulnerable citizens.

Reduced red tape for special education teachers: Senator Pavley authored SB 368 to help special education teachers avoid duplicative course requirements. The legislation allows credential programs to accept coursework from multiple programs approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Previously, some qualified candidates were required to retake duplicative courses because of a lack of clear system for accepting coursework from multiple programs.

Greater accountability in developmental centers: Senator Pavley’s bill, SB 651, will help protect victims of sex crimes in state hospitals and developmental centers. The law addresses a history of improper handling of rape and other crimes in these facilities. It requires victims of suspected abuse to receive exams from trained investigators at independent facilities. Independent exams may be performed at state facilities if it is safer for the patient. This law complements AB 602 by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), which also takes effect Jan. 1 and requires employees at developmental centers and state hospitals to report serious assault and abuse to outside law enforcement within two hours.

Agreement reached on Ventura County transit: SB 203 will allow smaller cities in Ventura County to spend Transportation Development Act funds on local roads, provided they meet their public transit needs. Such flexibility was already given to small cities in other newly urban counties, but Ventura County was excluded while it developed a countywide transportation plan. The plan is now complete.

The bill is part of a series of actions to implement the plan. Other key elements include greater inter-city and inter-county regional transit service, creation of the Gold Coast Transit District (enabled by Assembly Bill 664 by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara), greater transit service to the East County and Heritage Valley area and a revamping of the county’s process for addressing unmet transit needs.

College schedule approved for advanced Moorpark students: With passage of SB 236, high school students enrolled in Moorpark College classes will be allowed to attend school on a more flexible schedule. The college schedule is not compatible with the traditional five-day high school week, but legislation was needed to remove a legal hurdle to implement a four-day week for these students. The legislation gives the students flexibility to work on projects, study and work in career-related internships on Fridays when Moorpark College offers fewer classes. It contains academic and financial accountability requirements that are consistent with other California school districts with four-day weeks. SB 236 was passed as an urgency statute, allowing it to go into effect immediately.