Pubdate: Thu, 29 May 2014
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2014 Los Angeles Times
Authors: Patrick McGreevy and Melanie Mason


Other Measures Include One to Let People in U.S. Illegally Get Student Loans.

SACRAMENTO - State lawmakers Wednesday gave initial approval to 
proposals that would reduce penalties for selling crack cocaine, 
require medical marijuana dispensaries to get state licenses and 
allow people in the country illegally to get student loans for college.

Other bills fell short, including a measure that would have penalized 
high CEO salaries with higher corporate taxes and one to require a 
moratorium on fracking by oil companies in California.

Sen. Holly Mitchell (DLos Angeles) offered a bill approved by the 
Senate that addresses drug penalties. Under her measure, possession 
of crack cocaine for sale would incur a reduced penalty, equal to 
that imposed for powder cocaine - up to four years in prison - and 
make it easier to get probation for both.

Saying existing laws have led to "institutional racism," Mitchell 
cited state statistics showing that African Americans were imprisoned 
for possession of crack cocaine for sale at a rate 43 times that for whites.

"The only practical solution to the racial disparity in cocaine 
sentencing, and to a failed but unending and costly drug war, is to 
lower the penalties ... while investing in effective prevention and 
rehabilitation," Mitchell told her colleagues in arguing for SB 1010.

The Senate also passed legislation to regulate the sale of medical 
marijuana in California, including a requirement that pot 
dispensaries get state licenses. Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) said 
controls were needed on a business that has expanded significantly 
since voters approved medical marijuana in 1996.

"Although medical marijuana is legal in California, the industry is 
clearly poorly regulated," Correa said, noting that his bill was 
requested by the League of California Cities and the California 
Police Chiefs Assn.

The measure would require that dispensaries get a license from the 
state and that cities sign off on any license. It also calls for 
guidelines to ensure that physicians recommend marijuana only after 
real examinations. SB 1262 also would bar physicians from having a 
financial interest in dispensaries.

The Senate also passed a bill to allow people in the country 
illegally to obtain student loans from the state to attend California 
universities. Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) authored SB 1210, 
which would initially allocate $9.2 million in public funds for such loans.

All three measures now go to the Assembly, which on Wednesday 
approved a bill that would require colleges to notify local law 
enforcement of certain incidents, including alleged sexual assaults 
and hate crimes, that occur on campus. The bill, AB 1433, was 
introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles).

The Assembly also passed a proposal that the state's main welfare 
program include an $80-amonth stipend for diapers. AB 1516, by 
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), would apply to eligible 
families with children under age 2.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom