Gover­nor’s bill marathon

As leg­isla­tive dead­line looms, gover­nor signs com­mu­nity col­lege bill and 125 oth­ers.

Los Angeles Times - - Latextra - Pa­trick McGreevy and Jack Dolan re­port­ing from sacra­mento pa­trick.mcgreevy

With a dead­line upon him, he signs and ve­toes dozens of mea­sures.

Com­mu­nity col­lege stu­dents will find it eas­ier to trans­fer to Cal­i­for­nia’s fouryear uni­ver­si­ties un­der bills signed Wed­nes­day by Gov. Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger. But he ve­toed dozens of oth­ers, in­clud­ing one that would have made nurs­ing em­ploy­ment agen­cies ver­ify a nurse’s fit­ness to work and an­other that called for tougher penal­ties for those who smug­gle cell­phones into pris­ons.

Fac­ing a Thurs­day night dead­line to clear his desk of 500 bills, the gover­nor Wed­nes­day ve­toed 87 and signed 126, in­clud­ing mea­sures to stream­line en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view rules for con­struc­tion projects and pro­vid­ing for stor­age of elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated by the sun and wind.

The gover­nor signed tough new rules aimed at pro­tect­ing hos­pi­tal pa­tients from ra­di­a­tion over­doses in re­sponse to in­ci­dents in which more than 260 ac­ci­den­tal over­ex­po­sures were dis­cov­ered at Cedars-Si­nai Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Los An­ge­les. SB 1237 would re­quire hos­pi­tals to dis­close ra­di­a­tion over­doses dur­ing CT scans and to record the doses from all scans on the pa­tient’s med­i­cal records.

Sch­warzeneg­ger also signed a mea­sure that re­quires the Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­sity sys­tem to guar­an­tee ad­mis­sion with ju­nior sta­tus to com­mu­nity col­lege stu­dents who ob­tain as­so­ci­ate’s de­grees tai­lored to spe­cific ma­jors and who meet all re­quire­ments for trans­fer.

Ac­cord­ing to the In­sti­tute for Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Lead­er­ship and Pol­icy, 73% of Cal­i­for­nia col­lege stu­dents at­tend com­mu­nity col­leges. But only 22.7% of those who in­tend to trans­fer to four-year uni­ver­si­ties achieve that goal, said state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pa­coima), author of the mea­sure. He said the in­con­sis­tent and ever-chang­ing course­work re­quire­ments for trans­fers frus­trate stu­dents. The bill, Padilla said, “will bet­ter align our higher ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, sav­ing stu­dents time [and] money.”

Sep­a­rate leg­is­la­tion signed by the gover­nor calls for the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia to ex­am­ine cre­at­ing a sim­i­lar trans­fer path­way; AB 2302 is by Assem­bly­man Paul Fong (D-Cu­per­tino).

The gover­nor ve­toed a mea­sure that would have re­quired li­censed nurs­ing em­ploy­ment agen­cies to ver­ify whether a nurse was fit to work. The bill was in­tro­duced in re­sponse to re­ports in The Times that the temp agen­cies are an un­reg­u­lated mag­net for prob­lem nurses.

Sch­warzeneg­ger said that he has taken ac­tion to im­prove over­sight by the state Nurs­ing Board and that he ve­toed SB 1119 be­cause it was not strong enough.

Sch­warzeneg­ger said his own leg­isla­tive fix was killed in com­mit­tee amid op­po­si­tion from nurses union of­fi­cials, and he called on law­mak­ers to en­act “strong, mean­ing­ful en­force­ment mea­sures that pro­tect pa­tients in­stead of pro­tect­ing prob­lem nurses.”

The gover­nor also ve­toed a mea­sure that would have re­duced the fine for vi­o­la­tions in­volv­ing turn­ing right on a red light from $100 to $35. Assem­bly­man Jerry Hill (D-San Ma­teo) said his AB 909 was meant to re­verse a pre­vi­ous in­crease in fines for fail­ing to stop cor­rectly be­fore turn­ing right on red.

Sch­warzeneg­ger ve­toed the bill, say­ing “a driver run­ning a red light, whether they are trav­el­ing straight, or turn­ing right, makes a very dan­ger­ous traf­fic move­ment that en­dan­gers the nearby mo­tor­ing pub­lic, bi­cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans.”

Sch­warzeneg­ger also ve­toed a mea­sure by Padilla that would have made it a mis­de­meanor to smug­gle a cell­phone or wire­less tex­ting de­vice into prison, pun­ish­able by a fine of up to $5,000. The law would have ap­plied to prison em­ploy­ees and vis­i­tors as well as in­mates. Padilla noted the prison sys­tem con­fis­cated more than 2,600 cell­phones from in­mates in 2008, which he said rep­re­sent a se­cu­rity risk.

But Sch­warzeneg­ger said in his veto mes­sage that the mea­sure did not make it a crime for an in­mate to sim­ply pos­sess a cell­phone if there is no in­tent to dis­trib­ute it, and he said the pun­ish­ment is too small.

“It is in­ex­cus­able to treat the threat of wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tions de­vices in pris­ons so lightly,” he wrote. “Sign­ing this mea­sure would mean that smug­gling a can of beer into a prison car­ries with it a greater pun­ish­ment than de­liv­er­ing a cell­phone to the leader of a crim­i­nal street gang.”

Padilla said fel­low leg­is­la­tors won’t ap­prove new felony laws be­cause of prison over­crowd­ing. The veto, he said, means “the gover­nor is con­don­ing an en­vi­ron­ment that has al­lowed peo­ple to pro­vide cell­phones to in­mates with im­punity.”

Sch­warzeneg­ger also ve­toed AB 2540 by Assem­bly­man Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate). The bill would have out­lawed the health in­surance in­dus­try prac­tice of col­lect­ing premi­ums from a cus­tomer un­til the per­son gets sick, then re­scind­ing cov­er­age by claim­ing the cus­tomer pro­vided false or in­com­plete in­for­ma­tion when ap­ply­ing for cov­er­age.

Sch­warzeneg­ger said the bill was un­nec­es­sary be­cause the is­sue is cov­ered in the fed­eral health­care re­form pack­age and other leg­is­la­tion he plans to sign.

Among the other bills the gover­nor signed was one re­quir­ing util­i­ties to in­vest more in technology to store elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated by re­new­able sources. A key prob­lem with so­lar and wind en­ergy fa­cil­i­ties is that they’re not al­ways in op­er­a­tion, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to rely on them. AB 2514 by Nancy Skin­ner (D-Berkeley) di­rects the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion to set stan­dards for the amount of en­ergy that util­i­ties have to store.


Paul Sakuma

Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger speaks at the Com­mon­wealth Club in Santa Clara ear­lier this week.

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