Los Angeles Times - - Latextar - Pa­trick McGreevy and Jack Dolan re­port­ing from sacra­mento

State pris­ons can re­lease co­matose and phys­i­cally in­ca­pac­i­tated in­mates on med­i­cal pa­role un­der a mea­sure ap­proved Tues­day by Gov. Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger that is ex­pected to save Cal­i­for­nia at least $46 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

The leg­is­la­tion was one of 21 bills the gover­nor signed, in­clud­ing a ban on mod­i­fy­ing mo­tor­cy­cles to make them more noisy, a scale­back of an early re­lease pro­gram at county jails and a five-year ex­ten­sion al­low­ing shoe­mak­ers to im­port kan­ga­roo parts to Cal­i­for­nia.

Sch­warzeneg­ger said the med­i­cal pa­role bill in­cludes a screen­ing process to make sure pub­lic safety is not jeop­ar­dized by the early re­lease of in­mates, many of whom are guarded 24 hours a day even though they are con­fined to hos­pi­tal beds.

“The state cur­rently wastes mil­lions of dol­lars guard­ing phys­i­cally in­ca­pac­i­tated in­mates in co­mas or in sim­i­lar con­di­tions that pose no threat to the safety

of oth­ers,” Sch­warzeneg­ger said.

Thirty-two in­mates are likely to be im­me­di­ate can­di­dates for med­i­cal pa­role, ac­cord­ing to a court-ap­pointed fed­eral health­care re­ceiver for the state prison sys­tem. They in­clude 21 housed in nurs­ing homes or hos­pi­tals at a cost of about $5,800 a day, the re­ceiver said.

SB 1399’s author, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Fran­cisco), said that even­tu­ally up to 1,000 in­mates may be el­i­gi­ble for med­i­cal pa­role, sav­ing the state $200 mil­lion or more. The Leg­is­la­ture ap­proved the mea­sure over the ob­jec­tion of some Repub­li­can law­mak­ers who ar­gued that it might re­sult in prison of­fi­cials re­leas­ing too many in­mates to cut costs.

Any re­lease would have to be ap­proved by the state Board of Pa­role Hear­ings, and of­fend­ers sen­tenced to death or life with­out pa­role would not qual­ify, Sch­warzeneg­ger said.

The gover­nor also acted Tues­day to scale back a pro­gram that ex­panded the early re­lease of county jail in­mates. Some law en­force­ment of­fi­cials had com­plained that of­fend­ers were flood­ing the streets, caus­ing pub­lic safety con­cerns.

SB 76 re­duces the good­time/work-time cred­its earned by county jail in­mates from one-half to one-third for those con­victed of mis­de­meanors, so in­mates will stay be­hind bars longer.

The gover­nor also signed SB 435, which al­lows po­lice to cite mo­tor­cy­cle own­ers if they re­move fed­er­ally re­quired emis­sions-con­trol equip­ment such as the cat­alytic con­verter.

“Our mo­tor­cy­cle-rid­ing gover­nor clearly rec­og­nizes that a few bad ap­ples on our roads are in­fring­ing on the rights of oth­ers with their il­le­gal, at­ten­tion-seek­ing loud pipes,” said Sen. Fran Pav­ley (D-Agoura Hills), the bill’s author.

An­other mea­sure signed by the gover­nor ex­tends to 2016 an ex­emp­tion that al­lows the im­por­ta­tion of kan­ga­roo body parts, which are used to make soc­cer shoes and other ap­parel.

Sch­warzeneg­ger ve­toed 14 bills, in­clud­ing a mea­sure by Assem­bly­man Tom Tor­lak­son (D-An­ti­och) that would have re­quired the state to hire an in­de­pen­dent ex­pert to eval­u­ate the STAR pro­gram, the stan­dard­ized tests used to com­pare stu­dents, schools and school dis­tricts across the state.

Sch­warzeneg­ger’s veto mes­sage on AB 391 was a touch sar­cas­tic: “I ve­toed a sim­i­lar bill last year. I would ask the author to eval­u­ate that.”

The gover­nor also shot down AB 2063 by Jared Huff­man (D-San Rafael), which would have made chi­nook salmon the “of­fi­cial state anadro­mous fish.” “Anadro­mous” is the term for a fish that is born in fresh wa­ter, spends its life in salt wa­ter and re­turns to fresh wa­ter to breed.

“This bill is un­nec­es­sary,” Sch­warzeneg­ger wrote in his veto state­ment, ar­gu­ing that the state is al­ready pur­su­ing the goal of in­creas­ing salmon pop­u­la­tions.

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