Last week the legislature adjourned for the year, completing the first year of the 2015-2016 legislative session. Friday night saw a flurry of legislative action, both successful and not successful, as both houses wrapped up their work. During the last hours of session a group of moderate Democrats emerged and frustrated their leadership and the administration by refusing to support several key bills. Some of these measures included a major climate change bill, raising the state’s smoking age and new restrictions on e-cigarettes. Additionally, two special sessions that were called by Governor Jerry Brown on transportation and health care stalled out and produced no agreements on either issue. There is some belief that the legislature will use the special session committees to craft some agreement over the legislative break and bring members back to town to vote on them but that seems like a long shot.
For charter schools specifically only one bill reached the Governor’s desk that is concerning, AB 787. The bill by Assemblyman Hernandez would prohibit for-profit companies from operating charter schools in any fashion. Though the bill is only a page long the term operate is not defined in the legislation and it leaves it up to interpretation. The education reform community has come out in strong opposition to the bill and waged a lobbying campaign against it on both the Senate and Assembly Floors. It passed both houses with one Democrat voting against it in the Senate and three Democrats abstaining while all of the Republicans opposed it. In the Assembly it passed with one Democrat voting against it and nine Democrats abstaining so it goes to the Governor without the support of the entire Democratic Caucus. The Governor has until October 11th to sign and veto the measure and we are urging him to veto it.
To see the language in AB 787 go to www.leginfo.ca.gov and put in the bill number.
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