UPDATE: Governor signs two, vetoes one of Stern’s bills

SIGNAL FILE PHOTO: A polling place worker hands a sticker to a voter after he completed his ballot at Fire Station 73 in Newhall in November. Katharine Lotze/Signal

Three of Senator Henry Stern’s bills sitting on the governor’s desk were read over the past week, two signed into law and the other vetoed.

Stern’s effort to engage youth in the political process was vetoed by Brown.

If Senate Bill 596 passed, it would have created the Student Empowerment Commission, allowing high school students to elect a representative to give their input to the state legislature.

In his veto message, Brown said the commission was too similar to an already-existing council.

Though the bill was not signed, Stern (D-Canoga Park) told The Signal in a statement on Monday that he’ll be announcing a push for youth civic engagement in the spring.

“The bill was intended to get youth civic engagement on the governor’s radar as a priority for both sides of the aisle in this legislature,” Stern said.

The bill passed the Senate floor with 38 yes votes and two abstains the first time and 27 yes votes, 11 no votes and two abstains the second time. Senator Scott Wilk voted in its favor the first time but against it the second time.

On the Assembly floor, the bill received 61 ayes, 16 noes and two abstains. Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) voted in favor and Assemblyman Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) abstained.

Clarifying the Secretary of State’s duties and powers, Governor Jerry Brown signed Stern’s Senate Bill 511.

The bill requires the Secretary of State to make “reasonable efforts” to promote voter registration and voting in underrepresented communities.

SB 511 passed through the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments unanimously. Stern serves as the chair of the committee.

On the Senate floor, the bill received 37 votes in favor, none in opposition and three abstains, with Wilk voting in favor.

When it went to the Assembly floor, it received 55 ayes, 20 noes and four abstains. Acosta voted against it and Lackey abstained from voting.

Also, more California farmland will be conserved after Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 732 into law on Monday.

The Senate Bill enforces local governments to preserve open space.

Through SB 732, cities and counties must identify and map data for agricultural lands and establish goals, policies and objectives to protect it. Additionally, they will have to designate land they want to prioritize and establish implementation measures.

Local governments will have grants from the Department of Conservation as incentives for implementing agricultural land elements to their general plans.

“Preserving agricultural land and open space in the face of unchecked sprawl is important to Ventura County and the Santa Clarita Valley,” Stern said. “SB 732 gives local governments new tools to help them strike that balance.”

Santa Clarita’s Mayor Cameron Smyth said he is in support of any bill that allows for more local government control and felt the State had done the opposite with a number of other bills during this legislative session.

The city is already on its way to preserving open space, according to the mayor.

“This bill seems to be very much in line with actions Santa Clarita has already taken with our open space district and efforts to preserve and identify open space where we can throughout the valley,” Smyth said.

When the bill was on the Senate floor, it received 28 votes in its favor and 12 votes in opposition. On the Assembly floor, it had 56 yes votes, 18 no votes and five abstains.

Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) abstained from voting and Assemblyman Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) and Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) voted against it.

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