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Brown signs laws on cyber-bullying, in-home care providers

California schools will now be allowed to suspend students for bullying classmates on social networking sites. Another law tightens rules on felons serving as in-home care providers for the elderly and disabled.

July 09, 2011|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Sacramento — The state has new powers to crack down on cyber-bullying, fibbing politicians and felons who work as in-home caregivers under measures signed into law Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Schools will now be allowed to suspend students for bullying classmates on social networking sites, including Facebook. Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose) introduced the legislation to update California's anti-bullying laws.

"The increase in popularity of social networks has also brought an increase in abuse, and in some instances depression and suicide," she said in a statement.

There was no organized opposition to her bill, AB 746, which was backed by the California State PTA and the California Teachers Assn.

Brown also signed a bill written after The Times reported on felons working in a state-financed program providing care for the elderly and disabled in their homes. The recipients were allowed to sign waivers accepting felons — often relatives or acquaintances — as their home aides. Existing law also allowed the aides to sign the waivers on the client's behalf.

The new law, by Assemblyman David G. Valadao (R-Hanford), forbids a caregiver who has a criminal record to represent a recipient in signing such a waiver unless that person is a parent, guardian, spouse or conservator.

"The state of California should not facilitate the abuse of the elderly and disabled by convicted felons," Valadao said in support of his measure, AB 876.

The governor also signed legislation that forces elected officials to forfeit their office if convicted of falsely claiming they have been awarded military decorations. Assemblyman Paul Cook (R-Yucaipa), a veteran of the Marines, created the measure to plug a loophole in the law.

"When politicians misrepresent themselves and make false claims of military rank and heroism, it does a tremendous disservice not only to our vets but to the public," Cook said.

His bill, AB 167, comes a year after an appeals court struck down a federal law that made it illegal to lie about receiving military decorations. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the federal law was an unconstitutional restraint on free speech.

Brown vetoed legislation that would have allowed senior citizens, the blind and the disabled to postpone their property tax payments. A law allowing the postponements was suspended in 2009 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger because of the state's budget problems.

"Given the very significant cuts to state and local core public services that are occurring, the state cannot afford the $19.3 million that the Department of Finance estimates this bill would cost" this year, Brown wrote in vetoing ABX1 29 by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills).

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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