Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday Must Read: Prop 8 Back in Court; Assembly Okays Dream Act II

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Sep 6, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Proposition 8, California’s anti-gay-marriage law, is back in court today for a pivotal hearing that could decide whether same-sex couples can start getting married again. The hearing, in front of the state Supreme Court, centers on the question of whether gay marriage opponents have the legal right to defend Prop 8 in federal appellate courts. The federal courts have said that only the California Supreme Court can decide the issue. Opponents of gay marriage took up the cause of defending Prop 8 after then-California Attorney General Jerry Brown and then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to do so. If the state Supreme Court says that gay-marriage opponents cannot defend Prop 8, then it likely will pave the way for same-sex weddings to resume.

2. The state Assembly on Friday sent a bill to Governor Brown that would allow undocumented immigrant college students to receive publicly funded financial aid, the SacBee reports. Known as the second part of the California Dream Act, the bill allows college students to receive taxpayer-funded aid if they came to the country before the age of 16, attended at least three years of high school, and graduated. The bill passed along party lines, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans against.

3. Governor Brown reached a deal with labor on Friday that would make it easier for farm workers to unionize, the LA Times reports. Lawmakers could vote on the deal as early as today. The agreement comes just months after Brown vetoed the so-called card-check rule for farm workers. The new deal would let the state's Agriculture Labor Relations Board certify a union if it determines that a grower illegally tried to affect a labor election. California big agribusiness opposes the proposal.

4. The legislature also has approved a bill that would allow people to register to vote online, the SacBee reports: “The legislation directs elections officials to work with the Department of Motor Vehicles to create a process for matching registration information submitted online with an electronic copy of a signature on file at the DMV.”

5. Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker is vowing to work more collaboratively with other city officials than her predecessor John Russo who repeatedly clashed with city councilmembers and Mayor Jean Quan, the Trib reports. Parker, for example, has decided that the city attorney’s office will once again work with the council on ways to update Oakland’s medical cannabis laws. Russo had refused, forcing the city to hire outside attorneys.

6. And it appears that blue whales, the largest species ever, are being killed in large numbers by ships crossing the Pacific Ocean, the Chron reports. Environmentalists are urging shipping companies to change their routes to avoid striking the whales, but shippers are refusing.

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