From unexcused state worker absences to a new window for child sexual abuse lawsuits and beyond, legislators placed a fresh batch of bills on the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown with less than a week to go before they close up shop for 2013.
But many of the bills that cleared the Legislature on Friday were low hanging fruit; the toughest debates and decisions have largely been left for next week.
A number of pieces of legislation moved past important but not final obstacles on Friday, needing a final vote of 'concurrence' in their house of origin to get to the governor.
A sampling of some of the bills that did make it to Brown for his signature or veto:
New Chance to Sue Over Old Wounds -- A final, and emotional, debate sent Senate Bill 131 to the governor. The bill, inspired by an Oakland sexual abuse case in the Catholic Church, offers a new chance for adults who suffered abuse as children to bring lawsuits. It was the subject of intense debate in recent weeks, with church officials criticizing its narrow focus and supporters accusing the church of waging a misleading PR campaign that included pleas to parishioners in Sunday bulletins.
Broadening of Paid Family Leave -- Senate Bill 770 expands the definition of "family" that can be cared for under the state law that allows partial pay to those taking time off to care for their loved ones. The Paid Family Leave (PFL) program currently is focused on the birth of a child, with the money coming from worker paycheck deductions into the state disability insurance system. "These are funds that would be available to individuals to care for these critically ill family members," said bill author Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, during floor debate Friday.
No Excused Absence, No Mandatory Firing: One of the more testy debates in the Assembly Friday was over a bill to allow more flexibility for state workers who don't get official approval before missing work. Assembly Bill 855 seeks to strengthen the hand of a government worker in keeping his or her job, given current law says that a 5 day absence triggers an "automatic resignation." Republicans lampooned the bill as a way for employees to skip work without any repercussions. "The Legislature in California is out of touch," said Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, during debate. Democrats countered by pointing out the bill is focused on medical emergencies and requires a doctor's note. "This is with a medical, a medical excuse," said the author, Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino. "It doesn't just say that you are absent."
A Cause Célèbre: The much hyped bill aimed at cracking down on overzealous celebrity paparazzi, Senate Bill 606, cleared it final hurdle. The legislation attracted actresses Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry (who showed up two times) to testify on its merits in Capitol hearings over the past few weeks. Newspaper and broadcasting groups, though, argue it could hinder legitimate journalism activities.
Autism Extension: Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg successfully pushed through a new deadline for his 2011 law requiring private insurance companies to cover behavioral treatment for autism spectrum disorders. Senate Bill 126 cleared the upper house on a 38-0 vote, though it's worth noting that a similar effort for autism patients who are in the Medi-Cal system failed to make it into this year's state budget.
John Myers is News10's political editor. Check out his Twitter feed on California politics, his Facebook page, and the weekly News10 Capitol Connection politics podcast.