Brown signs, vetoes bills to wrap up year

A number of pending bills were either signed or vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown during the weekend, as Sunday marked the end of the legislative calendar.

USC’s administration has been closely tracking and supporting several bills, such as AB 1072, which deals with leveraging state resources to support community partnerships. The bill was held to the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 4.

The university also followed SB 238, signed by Brown on Sept. 28, which revokes the privileges of athletic agents if they are convicted of violating the Miller-Ayala Athlete Agents Act, which stipulates the rights of athletic agents conducting business in California.

When lobbying for legislation, USC focuses its efforts on legislation pertaining to education, health care and research. The university maintains an office in Sacramento to ensure its interests are represented in state government.

USC State Government Relations also follows and informs various departments about legislation that might affect the university or members of its community, said Veronica Villalobos-Cruz, executive director of state government relations.

“Policy areas of importance to USC include higher education, research, healthcare, labor or university operations and issues that may impact our community partnerships,” Villalobos-Cruz said. “Other bills that we monitor include those dealing with professions that the state regulates like teachers, doctors, pharmacists, dentists, engineers, lawyers — typically we monitor to inform the deans or schools and see if there’s a need to take a position or if we need to work with the professional association that represents such professions.”

During the weekend, Brown also signed SB 746, which bans minors from using tanning beds; AB 499, which allows children age 12 and older to seek medical care for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections without parental consent; AB 376, which bans the sale and possession of shark fins and SB 397, which allows California residents to register online for the 2012 elections.

Brown also signed AB 131, the second half of the California DREAM Act,  on Saturday. The bill will allow undocumented college students to receive state financial aid. SB 185, a bill that would have allowed the University of California and California State University systems to consider race, ethnicity and gender in student admissions, was vetoed on the same day.

Lisa Douglass, vice president of public affairs for Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, of which USC is a member, was in favor of the DREAM Act because it offers educational opportunities for all students.

“We were in support of the DREAM Act because it provides equal access to all students, and we believe in putting students first and providing access,” Douglass said. “AICCU member schools focus on putting students first as members of the non-profit, private colleges and universities throughout the state.”

AICCU did not take a stance on SB 185.

Because AB 131 and SB 185 impact California’s public education system, they do not directly affect USC as a private university. USC’s recent lobbying efforts, therefore, have focused on AB 1329, which affects the funding of cancer research, Villalobos-Cruz said. Brown signed the bill Sunday.

“[AB 1329] involves how the Department of Public Health contracts with outside entities like USC, which allows them to do a grant program or give out money to institutions a bit easier,” Villalobos-Cruz said. “AB 1329 is important because it makes it easier for USC to partner and receive funds to operate the California Cancer Registry in Los Angeles.”