California outlaws smoking in cars with kids

A bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will protect children in cars from secondhand smoke. SB 7, authored by Sen. Jenny Oropeza, would fine drivers $100 if they are pulled over for another offense and are then caught smoking while a minor is in the car. California is the third state to limit smoking in cars with children, although it is the only one to extend the ban to protect children up to age 17. Louisiana bans smoking in cars when children under age 14 are in the vehicle and Arkansas bans it when children under age seven are in the vehicle. According to Sen. Oropeza’s press release, health experts testified that “second-hand smoke in a car can be up to 10 times more dangerous than in a home.” For information on a related topic, see CPA’s Smoke-Free Workplaces policy brief and model legislation. [AP]

Gov. Schwarzenegger acts on dozens of bills

Over the weekend Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took action on numerous bills. Semi-automatic pistols sold in the state must employ microstamping technology by 2010. Microstamping imprints unique characters on bullets as they are fired, which gives police more information to solve crimes. However, the governor vetoed three bills aimed at reforming the criminal investigation process by requiring uniform regulations for police line-ups, recording of interrogations, and corroboration of jailhouse informants’ testimony. The governor also signed a bill banning the sale of any items containing phthalates targeted at children under three. Food containing trans fats will now be banned from school cafeterias and vending machines, but chain restaurants will not be required to post nutrition information. Although a bill granting same sex couples marriage equality was vetoed, seven other measures protecting the rights of the LGBT community were signed. The governor also vetoed the legislature’s health care proposal and it seems unlikely that his plan will receive much support from the legislature, meaning health care reform is likely dead for the year in California. For more information, check the roundups of the end of the regular session at the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

UPDATE: Sorry, we should have mentioned that California Progress Report has a great list of articles and op eds about the end of California’s legislative session and many other resources for progressives in California.

EC for sexual assault survivors in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission has approved a regulation proposed by the Department of Health requiring hospitals to provide sexual assault survivors with emergency contraception (EC). Hospitals may apply for an exemption from the rule for religious or moral reasons as long as they arrange to transport patients to a facility that does provide it. The legislature is considering a bill, sponsored by Rep. Daylin Leach, which could preempt the new regulations. HB 288 would require all hospitals to provide sexual assault survivors with information about and access to EC, which can reduce the chance of unintended pregnancy by 95 percent if taken within 24 hours of the assault. Rep. Leach has estimated that half of Pennsylvania’s hospitals do not routinely provide EC to survivors of sexual assault. Voting on the bill was pushed back to give legislators more time to consider their position, but a vote is expected next Monday. For more information, read CPA’s Emergency Contraception for Sexual Assault Victims policy brief and model legislation. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Massachusetts Senate OKs bill to protect abortion providers and patients

The Massachusetts Senate has passed a bill which would expand the buffer zone around health clinics that provide abortions. Massachusetts law currently prohibits demonstrators within 18 feet of the clinic. The new bill, SB 1352, sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler, would require demonstrators to stay at least 35 feet from the clinic’s property. The bill now moves to the House, where it has the support of the Speaker and at least 75 of the representatives. Governor Deval Patrick has also expressed his support for the bill. Fifteen other states have laws that protect facilities which provide abortions. For more information, see CPA’s Health Clinic Protection policy brief and model legislation. [Boston GlobeBoston Herald]

Colorado Governor Allows Teens to Get Prenatal Care Without Parental Consent

Colorado Governor Bill Owens allowed HB 1249 to become law without his signature.  The new law, sponsored by Rep. Joel Judd, allows pregnant teenagers to get prenatal care without the consent of a parent or a guardian.