SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept 15 (Reuters) - California lawmakers will vote on whether to become a so-called sanctuary state and tussle over hot-button environmental issues including a long-shot plan to wean the power sector entirely off of fossil fuels as the legislative session winds down on Friday.
The majority Democratic lawmakers will head back to their districts having positioned the state in opposition to conservative policies proposed by the Republican-dominated U.S. Congress and President Donald Trump on immigration, the environment and other issues.
“It’s a purposeful positioning,” said political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a senior fellow at the University of Southern California. “We have a different political path and a different ideological path than the Republican-controlled Congress and White House have.”
This year, California lawmakers have strengthened protections for undocumented immigrants, increased the gasoline tax and extended a program aimed at compelling businesses to reduce air pollution, all in opposition to federal policies.
On Friday, lawmakers are set to vote on a bill that would bar local governments from forcing undocumented immigrants to spend extra time in jail just to allow enforcement officers to take them into their custody.
The bill, a compromise from a version that sought to severely restrict interactions between law enforcement and immigration officials, does allow communities to notify the federal government if they have arrested an undocumented immigrant with a felony record. It also allows enforcement agents access to local jails.
Trump issued an executive order in January targeting funding for cities that offer illegal immigrants safe harbor by declining to use municipal resources to enforce federal immigration laws. A San Francisco judge blocked the order.
A move by the Justice Department to withhold grant funds from cities that refuse to allow immigration enforcement agents access to local jails has been challenged in court by California and several U.S. cities.
Although California lawmakers have enacted several environmental protections this year, a measure aimed at weaning the state’s power grid entirely off of fossil fuels by 2045 faltered late Thursday as utilities opposed it.
California’s three investor-owned utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, say the bill does not protect customers from the cost of switching from fossil fuels.
Senate Democratic Leader Kevin de Leon still planned to push for the bill, but Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee chair Chris Holden said it was too late to amend.
The legislature will also end the first half of its two-year session by taking up a spending package to distribute $1.5 billion in income from the state’s cap-and-trade air quality program, which raises money by selling businesses limited rights to emit pollutants. (Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento and Nichola Groom in Los Angeles; Editing by Richard Chang)