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Taxes Stall in Senate Committee; Gun Control Bills Move Forward

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, May 23, 2013
It took about 25 seconds for the Senate Appropriations Committee to pass - and amend - a closely-watched bill would regulate fracking in California.
The same happened for several high-profile gun control measures, a statewide plastic bag ban and the Democratic Senate leader's effort to overhaul California's landmark environmental law.
About 70 of the more than 250 bills did not pass - most notably, taxes on soda, tobacco and oil drilling.
Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) says her oil severance tax was rejected at a critical time, as oil companies ramp up the controversial extraction process called "hydraulic fracturing."
"Fracking is set to expand - whether we like it or not - on a monumental scale," Evans says, "and unless we have a tax in place to tax the oil extracted by fracking, we will never be able to do it."
In all, the committee blocked bills that would have spent a combined $3 billion from the state's general fund and raised a combined $5 billion.
The measures that moved forward would spend about $340 million. They face a deadline of next Friday to pass the Senate floor.
Bill Allowing Some Non-Citizens to be Poll Workers Passes Assembly
Meanwhile, the California Assembly has passed a bill that would allow legal permanent residents who aren't U.S. citizens to serve as poll workers during elections.
Asm. Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) says his measure would help citizens who don't speak English well cast their ballots.  "Legal permanent residents have the right to buy firearms in this country.  They can serve in the U.S. Military.  They're required to pay taxes.  This bill simply asks that they also be allowed to serve at the polls," he says.
But Republican Rocky Chavez, who says he's a strong backer of immigration reform, says this bill would detract from the importance of earning citizenship.  "I'm so excited what we're doing here to support immigration.  I support everything we've been doing on it.  But I also think we need to keep certain elements restricted to citizens," he says. 

The measure passed the Assembly on a party-line vote of 48-22.  It now moves to the California Senate.

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