California’s governor signed into law bills dealing with elected officials, cyber-bullying, in-home care providers and farmworkers late last week.
San Bernardino County Democratic Assemblywoman Norma Torres authored AB 840, which would help agricultural employers increase the number of farmworker housing by clarifying existing law dealing with zoning requirements. It rephrases one sentence in the Employee Housing Act that requires cities and counties to treat employer-provided farmworker housing like all other agricultural uses.
“This clarification benefits all of us because not only are we providing workers families with a place to live, but at the same time we are preventing farmworker families from becoming homeless,” Torres said in a press release.
The bill clarifies the act’s provisions apply to any zone where farming is allowed instead of zones that are exclusively agricultural, like some counties have argued is the case.
“Our agricultural industry is the fifth largest supplier of food and agricultural commodities in the world and we have to make sure we provide all farmworkers in California with affordable housing,” she said. “I’m glad Governor [Jerry] Brown agrees with me that we need to provide farmworkers with housing close to where they work. Agriculture is nearly a $36.6 billion dollar industry in California that generates $100 billion in economic activity and it is important to allow agricultural employers to provide housing for their workers.”
Brown also signed into law AB 167, which San Bernardino County Republican Assemblyman Paul Cook authored. His bill would force elected officials to give up their office if convicted of falsely claiming they have been awarded military decorations – Cook is a Marine veteran and wrote the bill to close a loophole in the law.
“When politicians misrepresent themselves and make false claims of military rank and heroism, it does a tremendous disservice not only to our vets but to the public,” Cook said.
One year ago, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the federal law that made it illegal to lie about receiving military decorations was an unconstitutional restraint on free speech.
Two other bills Brown signed into law had to do with cracking down on cyber-bullying and what convicted felons could do in terms of being home aides.
Democratic Assemblywoman Nora Campos introduced AB 746 that would allow schools to suspend students for cyber-bullying.
“The increase in popularity of social networks has also brought an increase in abuse, and in some instances depression and suicide,” Campos said in a statement.
The bill dealing with felons forbids a caregiver to sign a waiver on the client’s behalf if that caregiver has a criminal record. Exceptions are if the caregiver is a parent, guardian, spouse or conservator.
“The state of California should not facilitate the abuse of the elderly and disabled by convicted felons,” Assemblyman David Valadao, the Republican who authored AB 876, said.
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