The Latest: California lawmakers decline to tax pot farmers

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on action at the California Legislature (all times local):

5 p.m.

A California bill that would have levied taxes on medical marijuana growers appears dead.

The Senate Appropriations Committee did not approve AB2243 ahead of a deadline on Thursday.

Experts estimated that the bill by Democratic Assemblyman Jim Wood of Healdsburg would have raised at least $71 million annually for local police and environmental cleanup.

Wood says he's not sure what happened since the bill previously had unanimous bipartisan support. He says he doesn't know what got in the way of good policy.

Wood's district includes prime land for growing marijuana. He says the money is needed to mitigate environmental damage from illegal pot grows.

Taxes on marijuana flowers would have ranged from $4.75 to $13.25 per ounce depending on the grower's license.

Some marijuana activists opposed the taxes as unreasonably high.


3:40 p.m.

A bill to strengthen rape kit reporting requirements for police departments has failed to advance in the California Senate.

The measure would have required local departments to report the number of rape kits they collect to the state Department of Justice and give a reason for each that goes untested.

The Senate Appropriations Committee held AB1848 on Thursday, after it previously passed the Assembly unanimously.

Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco had said the bill would give a better idea of the statewide backlog of kits and why they haven't been tested. Data would be made public in an annual summary.

Previous bills attempting to force police to test kits more quickly died when police testified they didn't have enough resources to test them all.


3:20 p.m.

A proposal to make California law treat the drug fentanyl like heroin or cocaine has died amid an increasing number of fatal overdoses linked to the powerful opiate, including that of musician Prince.

SB1323 would have enhanced sentences for people convicted of selling or trafficking fentanyl based on the amount of the drug involved.

Under the system currently used for heroin and cocaine, one kilogram tacks on three years to a sentence while 80 kilograms or more adds 25 years.

A fiscal panel declined to act on the bill Thursday, effectively killing it.

Bill author Sen. Patricia Bates attributed the bill's demise to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's focus on reducing California's prison population. The Laguna Niguel Republican says Brown's initiative has made it difficult to address weaknesses in criminal law.


2:15 p.m.

Lawmakers on a legislative fiscal panel are advancing California's latest proposal to combat climate change, though the measure has a rocky path to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.

In 2006, California set a goal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Brown and environmental advocates are seeking to extend the life of that law and take the ambitious effort further.

The bill passed Thursday would set reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

SB32 now advances to the full Assembly, where moderate Democrats who blocked similar legislation last year are expected to push back against it.


11:45 a.m.

California's Legislature has passed a measure targeting elephant handlers who use tools that inflict pain to train or control the animals.

Under the bill, individuals, zoos, circuses or other organizations caught using bullhooks, baseball bats, pitchforks or other harmful devices would be subject to fines up to $10,000. They could also lose their elephant permit.

The Senate approved SB1062 Thursday 26-10, sending it to the governor.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill last year that would have criminalized the use of such tools. Rhode Island became the first state to ban use of bullhooks last month.

Animal welfare groups say the tools are inhumane. Some bill opponents say the tools can facilitate veterinary care and research when used properly.

If Brown approves it, the measure would take effect in 2018.


11:20 a.m.

California lawmakers are reviving legislation to give family leave to workers at small businesses.

Federal law requires businesses with 50 or more employees to give workers up to 12 weeks unpaid leave per year to care for a new child or other family member.

The California proposal would expand that to companies with 10 to 49 employees. Those employees could get at least 60 percent of wages for up to six weeks.

The legislation is a priority of the California Legislative Women's Caucus. It was shot down in June by a committee led by Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernandez of West Covina.

Hernandez was booted from committees last month amid allegations he physically abused his ex-wife.

Democratic leaders revived the bill Thursday. The Assembly voted 44-24 to introduce SB654.

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