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At the State Capitol
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BILL WOULD END CAR IMPOUNDS FOR UNLICENSED DRIVERS: Illegal immigrants will no longer have to fear losing their vehicles during routine traffic stops if a bill passed by the Assembly becomes law.

AB1993 would allow people caught driving without a license to call a licensed driver to retrieve their vehicle.

Democratic Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, of San Francisco, said she wrote the bill so that illegal immigrants will no longer have to give up their cars because they cannot pay hefty impound fees. The bill passed 46-24 Thursday and moves to the Senate.

BILL WOULD LET NURSES PRESCRIBE THE PILL: California women would no longer have to make an appointment with a doctor to get birth control pills under a bill approved by the state Assembly.

Lawmakers on Thursday approved AB2348, which would allow registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives to give out and administer hormonal contraceptives at primary care clinics.

Democratic Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles said she wrote the bill to give women better access to birth control.

The bill passed 41-26 on a party line vote and moves to the Senate.

BILL WOULD BAN GIVING GIFTS TO CALIF LAWMAKERS: California legislators would no longer be able accept spa treatments, professional sports tickets, recreational trips and gift cards under a bill making its way through the Legislature.

SB1426 passed on a 33-1 vote Thursday and now goes to the Assembly.

The bill was authored by Blakeslee, a Republican from San Luis Obispo. Four previous attempts by Blakeslee to ban gifts from lobbyists' employers failed.

BILL REQUIRES PROTECTIONS FOR STUDENT ATHLETES: Top-ranking California universities would have to provide financial protections for student athletes who suffer career-ending injuries under a bill approved by the state Senate.

The bill by Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat from Los Angeles, would require the universities to continue injured students' scholarships and medical coverage if they can no longer compete. They would also have to provide health insurance for low-income students at universities with poor graduation rates.

SB1525 would apply to universities that take in more than $10 million annually in sports media revenue. That currently would affect the University of Southern California, UCLA, Cal Berkeley and Stanford University and soon could affect San Diego State University.

The bill passed Thursday on a 21-14 vote and now goes to the Assembly.

SENATE REJECTS LOWER PENALTY FOR DRUG POSSESSION: State senators have rejected a bid to make California the 14th state to end felony penalties for those convicted of possessing small amounts of drugs for personal use.

Sen. Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco, proposed reducing drug possession to a misdemeanor.

Those convicted would have served up to a year in county jail instead of the three-year maximum sentence under current law.

Leno argued that SB1506 would save counties and the state millions of dollars annually and help reduce jail crowding.

Just 11 Democratic senators supported the bill Thursday. Twenty-four senators of both political parties were opposed, and several other Democrats did not cast votes.

BILL WOULD SHIELD CLERGY FROM GAY WEDDINGS: The California Senate has approved a bill intended to ensure that religious officials would not jeopardize their nonprofit status if they refuse to perform gay weddings.

Democratic Sen. Mark Leno says his SB1140 addresses the legitimate concerns from clergy that they could be forced to perform same-sex marriages that contradict their religious beliefs.

It passed the Senate on a 23-11 vote on Thursday, sending it to the Assembly. Most Republicans opposed it.

Voters declared gay marriage illegal in California with Proposition 8 in 2008, but Leno's bill would apply if gay marriage were legalized in the future.

BILL WOULD ALLOW ELECTION DAY VOTER SIGN-UP: Californians who forgot to register for next week's election may have better luck next time if a bill passed by the Assembly becomes law.

AB1436 would allow people to register to vote at any time, including on Election Day.

Assemblyman Mike Feuer, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said he wrote the bill to address the state's chronically low voter participation rate. The bill passed 42-24 Thursday and moves to the Senate.