Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Momentum in California

San Quentin, California State PrisonThere may be some momentum building in California for a couple of good progressive initiatives. Most recently, a proposal for a two-year moratorium on California's death penalty won approval from a panel of Assembly members:
The moratorium bill — AB 1121 by Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) — would halt executions until the end of 2007, when the bipartisan California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice is scheduled to report its findings and make recommendations to the Legislature.

Formed by the state Senate last year, the 15-member commission includes representatives from law enforcement, victims rights groups and the criminal defense bar.

...California's death row holds 646 convicts, including more than 20 who are in the final stages of their appeals before an execution can occur.

Barring a last-minute legal reprieve, or clemency from Schwarzenegger, Clarence Ray Allen next week will become the 13th person killed at San Quentin since capital punishment resumed in California in 1992.

Allen, 75, was sentenced to death for masterminding a triple murder while behind bars.
Although it faces opposition from most Republicans and probably the Governor, the idea of a moratorium is endorsed by some former supporters of the death penalty:
A group of current and former prosecutors — including the author of the state's 1978 death penalty initiative and Ira Reiner, whose office sent dozens of
people to death row when he was Los Angeles County's district attorney — endorsed a moratorium Monday on executions in California.

...In New Jersey on Monday, lawmakers approved a suspension of executions, becoming the first state legislature in the country to do so since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976.

Another issue that is gaining momentum in Sacramento is a minimum wage hike. The Governor is proposing a $1 increase, so at least that much is almost guaranteed, especially since business interests are relaxing their opposition to the idea. But Democrats will likely push for more, and the Green Party is working with labor groups to get an initiative on the ballot to raise the minimum wage and include an annual cost of living ajustment.


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