Capitol Comments

As technology and demand have made unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – commonly called drones – cheaper and more accessible, concerns about their use by law enforcement have grown. In an attempt to balance public safety with privacy rights, the California legislature recently passed AB 1327, making it the most recent state to tackle the issue.

According to The Institute for Health and Social Policy, 145 of 173 countries mandate paid sick days for short- or long-term illnesses. Employers in the U.S. are not required by the federal government to provide paid sick leave to employees, but two states – Connecticut and California – have passed laws that require employers to do so. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 65 percent of civilian employees – private sector and state and local governments – had access to paid sick leave in March 2014.

Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (AB 1522) into law which will require employers in the state to provide at least three days of paid sick leave annually for part and full-time workers beginning July 2015. This makes California the second state to pass such a law - Connecticut was the first state to do so in 2011. According to a press release issued by the governor’s office, the new law will provide “paid sick days to the millions of Californians - roughly 40% of the state's workforce - who do not currently earn this benefit”.

According to the American-Statesmen, Tesla has picked Nevada as the site for its new $5 billion “gigafactory” battery plant, which will reportedly create 6,500 direct jobs. Tesla's siting search set off a bidding war among a number of states to offer the most enticing location package, including big bucks for tax and financial incentives. According to the Las Vegas Review JournalNevada will offer Tesla state and local tax breaks and credits worth around $1.3 billion. That includes an elimination of all state and local sales and use taxes until June 2034 and a 100 percent abatement of the real property tax, the personal property tax and the modified business tax until June 2024. Nevada does not have a corporate income tax.

A May 2014 state-by-state survey conducted by National Public Radio (NPR) finds that the costs of the criminal justice system across the U.S. are increasingly being shifted to defendants and offenders. Specifically, defendants are now being charged for government services that were once free, including those that are constitutionally required. From the study:

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