Digging Through the Pile That Has Left Schwarzenegger’s Desk: Bills Signed–And the 22% He Vetoed This Year4 min read

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By the time he put his pen down less than two hours before the midnight deadline, Governor Schwarzenegger disposed of 964 bills dropped on his desk by the legislature this year. He signed 750 of them and vetoed 214–meaning that 22%–between one-fifth and one-quarter of the measures that ran the gauntlet and received majority votes or higher levels of support in both houses of the legislature–are dead for the year. The only exceptions to this are bills that may pass in the special sessions on health and water that are ongoing. Yesterday, the last day, he signed 80 bills and vetoed 72.

The winners: The highlights of last minute bills signed into law include a massive alternative fuel and clean air bill, the release of some terminally ill prisoners, the banning of toxic phthalates from children’s’ toys, banning transfats in food in school cafeterias and vending machines, requiring the microstamping of bullet cartridges fired by semiautomatic pistols, consumer protection and labeling requirements for bottled water, banning lead shot in areas where the endangered California Condor lives, requiring the truncation of social security numbers on government documents to prevent identity theft and measures to look at what can be done similarly with the use of these numbers in colleges and universities, a package of increased protections for crime victims, bills amping up and harmonizing California’s discrimination laws, allowing name changes by those who marry so that a man can take his wife’s last name and also making name changes easier for domestic partners, outlawing the involuntary implantation of identification devices (RFID chips)below the skin as a requirement of employment, prescription drug labeling and another bill that will protect water and the environment from disposal of these drugs, improving safety with the hauling of dangerous and flammable materials on the state’s freeways (such as the one that resulted in a conflagration near the San Francisco Bay Bridge earlier in the year, and the list goes on.

At the end, the Governor vetoed two major water bills by Senator Perata, one of them SB 1002 that would have appropriated $610.89 million in bond money already passed by the voters in last year’s infrastructure bonds and Prop 84 on for various water projects, much of it for the Delta. This means that unless legislation passes in the special session on water, there will be a delay in getting started on what is immediately needed to be done on water.

If you want to find out what happened to a particular bill or sift through the lists yourself, we have listed some of the online sources available. We will have more analysis of different policy areas and the winners and losers, but let’s take a look at some of the ones from the weekend:

The last bill signed by the Governor was AB 118 by Speaker of the Assembly Nunez, the Vehicle Technology, Clean Air, and Carbon Reduction Act of 2007–a major alternative fuels and clean air bill. Among its many features, it will give the California Air Resources Board, in conjunction with the Bureau of Automobile Repairs the daunting task of putting together a program for the voluntary retirement of vehicles ranging from cars to trucks that are high polluters. It is funded through a $1 increase in the annual vehicle registration fee over the next 7 years, raising approximately $30 million a year.

AB 118 will help replace 20% of the state’s gasoline consumption with lower carbon fuels and increase the number of alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles to more than 7 million–a 20 fold increase in these vehicles over what are on California’s roads today.

The losers: Bills that didn’t make it in the last couple of days included laws that would have made it easier for farmworkers to collectively bargain and for those hired by a labor contractor to trace the employers and locations they have worked, most worker compensation changes including bringing back some of the 50% of cuts to permanently injured workers (a notable exception of flexibility in the periods of temporary disability for some injured workers that was signed), biodiesel, nutritional information from restaurant chains at over 14 locations, changes in the high school exit exam, a statewide monitoring and approaches to groundwater, a greenhouse gas bill by Senator Kehoe, rehabilitation programs for younger parolees, an honor program for low risk prisoners, a mental health court diversion from the criminal justice system, parole identification cards, sexual barrier devices for prisoners, other criminal justice reforms including those dealing with eyewitness identification, the use of uncorroborated “snitch testimony, and requiring that interrogations be electronically recorded, an increase in fines and enforcement of patient dumping by hospitals, long term health care information, parity in mental health care coverage with that for other conditions, food stamp eligibility for ex drug felons, family and medical leave, electronic waste reduction and recycling, solid waste recycling for multifamily dwellings, reduction in the “urban heat island” effect in cities, some green building standards, enforcement of discipline and certificates for EMT’s, ranked voting extension for some local elections, HPV vaccinations, prevention of back injuries to nurses from lifting, worker safety and protection from excessive indoor heat and tobacco, retailer rebate reform, the California DREAM Act, and alternatives to condemned inmate facilities at San Quentin.

We will begin listing and analyzing bills in different areas as the day progresses.

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