California_Capitol_Building

California lawmakers in the Legislature’s final month in session are set to tackle about 1,100 bills that feature such politically volatile issues as environmental rules, gun control and immigration.

By Melanie Mason and Patrick McGreevy
August 11, 2013, 5:49 p.m.

SACRAMENTO — State lawmakers, back from their summer break and starting their final month in session, have a lengthy to-do list that features such politically volatile issues as environmental rules, gun control and immigration.

Some 1,100 bills — about 275 a week, or 55 a day — require action before the Legislature adjourns Sept. 13 if they are to become law by the beginning of next year. Among them are proposals to relax California’s landmark environmental quality law; place restrictions on the controversial oil extraction method known as fracking; and grant new benefits to those in the country illegally.

Lawmakers also are expected to decide whether to outlaw the sale, purchase and manufacture of semiautomatic rifles that accommodate detachable magazines that hold multiple bullets — one of a raft of gun bills filed after last year’s massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

And they will consider a bid to increase California’s minimum wage by $1.25 an hour, to $9.25, over three years.

“This is the last four weeks of session,” Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said. “Some would say it’s a time of peril, and I would say it’s a time of great opportunity.”

The annual end-of-session scrum is typically a time of last-minute bill writing, accelerated lobbying and frenzied horse trading. This year has a new twist: the largest freshman class in the Capitol since the Legislature became full-time in 1967, the product of newly drawn voting districts and more than two decades of term limits.

“There’s folks that aren’t as familiar with the details of the process,” said Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), a first-year lawmaker and former legislative staffer. “They might take a more cautious approach, which might slow the process down a little bit.”

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