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For those who argue something is often better than nothing in legislating, there are likely to be kind words for Assemblyman Luis Alejo and Senator Fran Pavley.

But where some see compromise, others see capitulation. And two high profile bills being carried by the Democratic legislators are drawing attention by critics for some late amendments taken in hopes of getting the bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

"I understand there's mixed feelings about it," said Alejo, D-Salinas, over amendments made to his Assembly Bill 60, the latest in a decade-long effort to allow undocumented immigrants to hold a California drivers license.

AB 60's new language requires that a non-legal resident's license would have "a recognizable feature on its face and shall bear the following notice: 'This card is not acceptable for federal purposes; it is acceptable for driving privileges only.'"

Exactly what kind of mark those licenses would have to bear is unclear, but it's a sort of scarlet letter some immigrants rights activists find unacceptable.

"It also oddly specifies that the license may not be used for identification purposes," says Jon Rodney of the California Immigrant Policy Center, "a troubling loophole which could still result in arrests of undocumented drivers, and could potentially lead to detention and deportation."

The organization, as a result, has changed its stance on AB 60 to neutral. Assemblyman Alejo, though, says several other immigrant groups support the bill even with the new language -- language he says was asked for by the Brown administration.

"With that small amendment, we can make drivers licenses a reality for over 1.5 million immigrants," he said on Tuesday.

Alejo also argues the changes were made to conform to the federal Real ID Act, which frowns upon government identification cards that aren't backed up by Social Security numbers. Even so, the bill -- unlike its many predecessors over the years -- has attracted bipartisan support as it's made its way through the Capitol.

In the Legislature's upper house, the Capitol's most well-known environmental legislator has her hands full with Senate Bill 4, an effort to impose new regulations and reporting of drilling for oil through the use of hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking.'

The bill by Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, has been amended ten times since its introduction last December. SB 4 would regulate not just fracking but other forms of oil production through 'well stimulation,' including the practice of using acids to collect the oil.

The most recent amendments include efforts to clarify what layers of regulation would be required for an oil producer to obtain a fracking permit. But some environmental groups argue that would only fast-track the permits -- an interpretation Sen. Pavley says is inaccurate.

The bill is the only remaining proposal on the subject of fracking, and yet has been a punching bag in a Capitol environment where the two sides -- more drilling by hydraulic fracturing versus a moratorium on such production -- have struggled to find the middle ground.

Pavley says the choice is pretty simple.

"By not passing a bill this year," she said on Tuesday, "you have another year of no regulations, no disclosure."

Both SB 4 and AB 60 were amended on Friday, just four business days before the 2013 legislative session is scheduled to come to a close.

And they weren't alone; a review of the records shows some 58 percent of all the pending bills left for the Legislature to consider were amended that same day.

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.

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