Assembly Member Lara's Landmark Legislation Signed into Law by Governor Brown

October 17, 2011

Legislation will improve education, protect pregnant women, ensure great government transparency, and protect taxpayer money

Sacramento - October 9th marked the last day for Governor Brown to act on legislation. The Governor signed 10 of Assembly Member Lara's bills for the 2011 legislative session, improving the quality of life for California's working families.

"This legislative package responds to the needs of my constituents and is truly a reflection of what they have asked for – access to education, consumer protections, government transparency and fair tax policies," said Lara. "I am working on my legislative package for the new year and am eager to continue to respond to my constituent's call for jobs, job training, and greater government accountability."

Below is a snap-shot of Assembly Member Lara's 2011 legislation. New laws go into effect January 1, 2012.

Legislation to Improve Quality and Access to Education

AB 176 – Access to Standardized Graduate Level Exams
This bill will provide greater access to a post graduate education for undocumented students by requiring that a test sponsor of graduate level exams (like the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT) establish alternative methods of identification when the student is unable to provide the required identification. It will also require test sponsors to post the availability of this process on their websites. Operative Date: January 1, 2012

AB 844 – Equity for Elected Student Government Leaders
This bill will create equity for all elected student government leaders by clarifying that all students, including AB 540 students, may serve in any capacity in student government at California public colleges and universities and receive any grant, scholarship, fee waiver, or reimbursement for expenses incurred in conjunction with that service. The bill will also authorize AB 540 and other nonresident students to serve as the non-voting student trustee representative of their district so long as they attend a college in the district and are selected by their peers to serve in that leadership capacity.
Operative Date: January 1, 2012

AB 1029 – Community College: stand-alone course approval
AB 1029 extends the authority of local community college districts to approve stand-alone courses at the local level in order to better meet local educational and workforce needs. Rapid changes in technology and an increasingly diversified job market require efficient educational opportunities. Credit instructional courses, commonly known as "stand alone" courses, are not part of established educational programs. Examples include Networking Essentials, Integrated Pest Management and Business and Graphic Design. Community colleges can better serve their local educational and workforce needs if they are able to approve stand-alone courses to meet these needs.
Operative Date: January 1, 2012

ACR 34 – United for Ethnic Studies in California
Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 34 celebrates the accomplishment of Ethnic Studies throughout California's Higher Educational and K-12 systems and promotes the expansion of these courses. ACR 34 highlights the importance of Ethnic Studies as an academic discipline and recognizes its research, scholarship and programs that teach the experiences, history, culture and heritage of African Americans, Asian Americans, Chicanas/os and Latinas/os, Native Americans, and other persons of color in the United States.

Legislation to Protect Pregnant Women and Improve Access to Healthcare

AB 592- Preventing Interference with Pregnancy and Family Medical Leave
This bill strengthens California's pregnancy and medical leave laws by prohibiting on employer from interfering with an employee's ability to take pregnancy leave. Specifically, AB 592 makes clear that interference with an employee's right to take leave is unlawful in California.
Operative Date: January 1, 2012

AJR 13 – Physician Workforce Diversity
Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 13 urges the President and Congress of the United States to increase the supply of physicians in California and to consider solutions that will increase the number of graduate medical education residency positions available in California.

Legislation to Improve Government Transparency and Oversight

AB 187 – High Risk Audit Authority
This bill will allow the State Auditor to examine local governments during the course of her high-risk audit program to determine if there are any areas that are at risk of fraud, waste or mismanagement.
Operative Date: January 1, 2012

AB 1102 – State Auditor General Operations and Management
AB 1102 is critical to ensuring state government does not mismanage taxpayer funds by strengthening the role of the State Auditor who is tasked with providing important nonpartisan financial and performance audits of public funds. Specifically, this bill will provide general clean-up and clarifying changes to the statutes governing the State Auditor. AB 1102 guarantees the State Auditor's ability to complete her duties more effectively, while serving the best interest of all Californians.
Operative Date: January 1, 2012

Legislation to Protect California's Taxpayers

AB 1350 – Taxpayer Protection
AB 1350 ensures taxpayers are protected from arbitrary and illegal property tax rates by requiring county auditors to verify that a property tax rate proposed by a city to fund pension obligations does not exceed the maximum rate authorized by law. Additionally, AB 1350 authorizes county auditors to reject a proposed property tax increase if it exceeds the maximum rate allowed under the law.
Operative Date: January 1, 2012

AB 711 – Fair and Equitable Property Assessments
AB 711 ensures fair and equitable property assessments on an owner's principal place of residence while protecting local dollars that fund our schools, law enforcement, and parks. Specifically, AB 711 clarifies the definition of an owner-occupied single-family dwelling, for purposes of the Revenue and Taxation Code, as both an owner's principal place of residence and a dwelling that qualifies for a homeowners' property tax exemption.
Operative Date: January 1, 2012

Legislation to Improve Business Practices and Consumer Protections

AB 156 – Gambling Control Act
AB 156 will provide gambling enterprises with certain protections from civil or criminal suits when a previously approved game they offer and operate is later found to be unlawful. This bill will also protect consumers by allowing them to redeem outstanding chips when a gambling enterprise is sold, leased, or goes in to bankruptcy.
Operative Date: January 1, 2012

2011 Vetoed Legislation

AB 165 – Preventing Unconstitutional Student Fees
This bill would have helped put an end to the unlawful practice of charging K-12 public school students fees to participate in educational activities. Assembly Bill 165 would have ensured that students receive a free public education by creating a simple process for parents and students to raise complaints when illegal fees have been charged and have them addressed quickly without the need for costly litigation.

Specifically, AB 165 would have put complaint and auditing procedures into place to help identify, eliminate, and prevent the charging of illegal fees in violation of a student's constitutional right to a free public education. The bill did not prohibit parent and volunteer groups from fund raising or voluntarily contributing to educational programs.