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Capitol Roundup: Brown Signs Two Bills, Tax Relief Measure Advances

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Brown Signs Bill to Clear Up Gun Database Backlog

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed the first bill of many in response to December's elementary school shooting in Connecticut.

The measure by Democratic State Senator Mark Leno is intended to get more guns away from dangerous people on a California Department of Justice watch list.

The system is designed to confiscate guns from felons, people who are deemed mentally unstable, or who have a warrant or restraining order against them.  But there's a significant backlog of unresolved cases, so the law gives the department an extra $24 million to clear it up.

The legislation takes effect immediately as an urgency measure.

Money to Relieve Business Filings Backlog Approved by Governor

Meanwhile, Brown also signed legislation intended to eliminate a lengthy backup in the time it takes the Secretary of State's office to process business filings.

It currently takes California up to six weeks to process filings from new and expanding businesses.  This measure will send the Secretary of State's office an extra $1.6 million between now and June for temporary and overtime workers to reduce that backlog.

Many other states process such filings in just five business days.

Lawmakers intend to spend $8 million more on the same problem once the new fiscal year starts in July.  The governor's office says the goal is to reduce the state's processing time to between five and 10 business days by November.

Small Business Tax Relief Bill Passes First Committee Vote

Legislation is moving forward that would give some relief to California small business owners facing five years of retroactive taxes.

The Franchise Tax Board says it has no choice but to send out retroactive bills now that a California appeals court has declared a particular tax break unconstitutional.  That means thousands of small business owners could owe the state tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars unless the legislature acts.

"The question is, when government makes a mistake, do we own up to it and hold taxpayers harmless, or do we go after them?" said Democratic Senator Ted Lieu, the bill's author.  He says it's a matter of fundamental fairness.

The measure passed its first committee Wednesday on a four-to-one vote, with the Democratic chair of the committee opposed.  She acknowledged the issue is a tough one, but said she's concerned about setting a risky precedent for tax breaks in the future. 

The bill next moves to another committee.

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