California Gov. Jerry Brown signed bills into law during the past week that alternately upset and delighted the state’s Catholic leaders.The California Catholic Conference criticized Brown’s approval of AB 499, allowing minors to receive the controversial HPV vaccine Gardasil at state expense and without a parent’s or guardian’s approval.“We are puzzled and disappointed by Gov. Brown’s signature on AB 499,” stated Edward E. “Ned” Dolejsi, executive director of the CCC, the public policy office of the Catholic Bishops of California, which had urged Catholics to call their legislators and the governor’s office in hopes of obtaining a veto of the bill. “This would undermine parents’ duty to educate their children in moral values,” Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles wrote in The Tidings July 8. “It also violates parents’ rights to be responsible for their children’s physical and spiritual well-being. “By passing this bill, in effect, government would be encouraging young people to engage in activities that are contrary to their parents’ moral values — and then to lie about it or keep it secret from their parents.”Dolejsi noted that AB 499, authored by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), was also opposed by “literally thousands of people and community groups who support parental involvement and decry the continuing efforts of government officials and others to interfere with a parent’s right to raise their children.”“We are disappointed,” Dolejsi continued, “because AB 499 will undermine parental authority by allowing children as young as 12 to make important medical decisions in secret, denying parents a valuable opportunity to discuss sexual health and values with their pre-teen children. “We are also concerned because in these fiscally troubled times, the State of California — not parents and families — will become fiscally liable for the cost of expensive treatments such as Gardasil, as well as any costs associated with reactions and complications a child might suffer.He added that the CCC was “puzzled” because on the same day Brown signed AB 499, the governor also signed SB 746, a “first-in-the-nation” law to prevent children under 18 years of age from using tanning beds.“And, just a month earlier,” said Dolejsi, “he vetoed SB 105, a bill to mandate ski helmets on underage youth, citing his concern with the ‘seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state,’ saying ‘I believe parents have the ability and responsibility to make good choices for their children.’“We recognize that it is a challenge to create good public policy, but we believe that if long-standing and generally accepted principles are upheld, the common good is served. In this case, it appears that by signing AB 499, the Governor abandoned the principle of parental responsibility he so eloquently stated earlier. We find his action both regrettable and inexplicable.”Approval of DREAM ActOn the other hand, Archbishop Gomez and immigrant advocate groups praised Brown for signing into law Oct. 8 the rest of the California DREAM Act, allowing undocumented students who have graduated from a California high school to apply for state financial aid to attend college at a state school.Brown signed the first half of the measure in July to make immigrant students attending California State University, California community colleges or the University of California eligible, on or after Jan. 1, 2012, to receive scholarships and loans from private funds."The governor's signature clears the path for immigrant students to further their education so that they can one day contribute their talents and skills to the betterment of our society," Archbishop Gomez said in a statement released that day. "These students have already demonstrated their academic ability and commitment; they deserve the opportunity to pursue their goals for the future.”Under current law, undocumented immigrant students who have graduated from a California high school after attending the school for three or more years and can prove they're on the path to legalize their immigration status can pay resident tuition rates.The California DREAM Act, or the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, had the support of the CCC. Other groups which praised Brown for his action included Voto Latino, a nonpartisan group that promotes voter registration among Latinos ages 18 and up, and CHIRLA (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles)."California today made a wise investment in its future," said Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino's executive director.“A great day for California, for education, and for immigrant students who have kept their end of the bargain and continue to give their best to the only nation they know as their home,” said Angelica Salas, Chirla’s executive director.Brown and state lawmakers "showed vision and bravery by legislating with an eye on the future of the state's workforce and economy," Kumar said."California has already invested in these students' education. Today's signing assures they will be able to deliver a return on that investment by becoming California's entrepreneurs, engineers and doctors."One critic of the measure, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Hesperia), told The Associated Press the new law was "fundamentally wrong and unfair," calling it an insult to people who have "played by the rules" and entered the United States legally.According to Donnelly, polls show that between 80 percent and 90 percent of Californians, both Democrats and Republicans, are against the DREAM Act.Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), who sponsored the bill, and other supporters of the law say that students brought illegally to the United States by their parents when they were children should not be penalized by being denied financial aid and having to pay out-of-state tuition.One of those is UCLA double major (political science and computer engineering) Justino Mora, 22. He arrived in the U.S. at the age of 11 with his single mother and two siblings. “I will be able to complete my education and, instead of working two jobs as I’m doing now, I can apply for state grants, not only private scholarships,” said the Mexican-born 4.0 GPA student, who described his years in school as “extremely difficult for my mom who wanted us to get a good education, but she always struggled to make ends meet.” About 25,000 undocumented students graduate from California high schools every year. There are about 36,000 undocumented students enrolled in colleges and universities.