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Gov signs half of Contra Costa lawmakers’ bills

Conta Costa representatives in the state Legislature posted mixed results in this weekend’s billapalooza, an avalanche of nearly 700 bills released after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decided late Sunday that sufficient progress had been made on water talks.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier’s “There Ought to Be a Law” initiative produced a bill that requires workers in health clubs’ daycare centers to comply with the same rules designed to protect children from pedophiles in daycare centers. (Who knew they didn’t? Good grief.) A constituent whose daughter was molested at a health club brought him the bill idea and the governor signed it into law.

The Antioch and Dumbarton bridges are now eligible for state seismic retrofit dollars after the governor signed a bill by Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch. Engineers recently determined that both spans need strengthened but they were not on the list.

And youngsters will find it much more difficult to purchase whippits, those small metallic containers of nitrous oxide or laughing gas intended for home use in whipped cream charging bottles. The governor signed Torlakson’s bill, which makes it a crime to sell whippits to anyone under the age of 18.

Of the 14 bills authored by DeSaulnier, Torlakson and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, the governor signed half and vetoed the other half.

The local veto rate is quite a bit higher than the overall figure. Of the 685 bills the governor acted on Sunday, he vetoed 229, or a third. (Click here to visit the governor’s legislative update page and see his actions on all the bills.)

To see where the pen came down on other East Bay legislators’ bills, visit my colleague Josh Richman’s blog entry at http://www.ibabuzz.com/politics/2009/10/12/thrill-of-victory-agony-of-defeat/

For a full list of the three Contra Costa legislators’ bills, see below:

DeSaulnier

DeSaulnier

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

Signed

SB147 — Creates career technical courses at California State University system.

SB186 — Removes sunset of provision in workers compensation insurance that allows employees to seek treatment from their personal physicians for on-the-job injuries.

SB283 — Requires the state to develop building codes for the piping of recycled water.

SB702 — Requires personnel in health clubs’ child care centers to follow same hiring procedures as other daycare facilities in order to help shield children from pedophiles.

Vetoed

SB 406 — Would have allowed regions to impose a fee of up to $6 on motor vehicle registration to fund planning required to comply with new state law that links receipt of transportation dollars to land-use decisions. Governor said such a fee should be subject to voter approval.

SB 656 — Would have excluded non-peace officers who are members of a peace officers’ union from state Public Employment Relations Board dispute resolution process. Peace officers are not subject to the process. Governor said the bill would create an inconsistent class of employees within peace officer unions that would circumvent the state’s existing dispute resolution process.

SB 811 — Would have required the state to apply emission standards to vehicles coming to the state using the original out-of-state registration date. Governor opposed on the grounds that it contained potential legal problems that could lead to lawsuits.

Buchanan

Buchanan

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

Signed

AB 483 — Creates Web site that lists whether employers have workers compensation insurance.

Vetoed

AB 1006 — Would have required the state to consider where workers live when locating new state offices in order to help reduce traffic congestion. Governor said the Department of General Services already considers numerous factors and believes state services should be located for the convenience of the public.

Torlakson

Torlakson

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Signed

AB 1015 — Prohibits the sale of whippits containing nitrous oxide to minors, chiefly to stop the use of the gas by youngsters.

AB 1175 — Designates the Antioch and Dumbarton bridges as eligible for state seismic retrofit dollars.

Vetoed

AB 267 — Would create special education finance districts. Governor expressed concern that parcel boundaries could be manipulated to win election.

AB 476 — Would have called for the evaluation of standardized testing in California schools for efficacy. Governor said this work is already being done by other entities and that it would circumvent the authority of the state Department of Education.

AB 836 — Would have created a task force to improve digital literacy in California schools.Governor opposed, arguing that he has already issued an executive order directing the creation of the Digital Literacy Council.

Note: To look up more details on each of these bills, visit www.leginfo.ca.gov and search by author, bill number or legislative session.

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East Bay legislators dubious about state water deal

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

I talked with three Contra Costa state lawmakers via telephone this morning about their views on the Big Five water talks under way in Sacramento today. I did not hear much optimism about a the chances of a deal by tonight’s deadline.

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and assemblymembers Joan Buchanan and Tom Torlakson view the closed-door talks on the controversial and complex subject as unlikely to produce a package that will attain either legislative or public support, and urged the resumption of public hearings.

DeSaulnier of Concord, who scuttled his planned trip to Spain this week in order to participate in the California water negotiations, called Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s move to hold hostage 700 bills on his desk pending a water deal counter-productive.

“The governor’s unique talents are unsuits for this time right now in Sacramento,” DeSaulnier said. “He just not very good at negotiation.”

“What’s the rush?” he added. “Are they worried it will start raining and with the drought over, the pressure will be off to pass reforms? I think we can get a deal but we need to do it with continued public hearings and public discussion, not artificial deadlines.”

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Even if the Big Five emerge today or Saturday arm-in-arm with a package, the East Bay legislators say the question of how to pay for it remains a huge sticking point.

All three say they oppose financing the estimated $8 billion to $12 billion package through general obligation bonds. Repayment of general obligation bonds comes right of the top of the state’s general fund, which means the money cannot be used elsewhere.

They favor the use of revenue bonds, which are repaid by water users including residents, businesses and farmers.

“It the midst of these horrible deficits, and we’re facing additional horrendous challenges next year, do we want to cut more from schools or higher education?” said Torlakson, D-Antioch.

“The payment on a $12 billion bond is $700 million a year,” said Buchanan, D-Alamo. “If we are going to pass legislation and ask voters to pass a bond, we need to ask how we’re going to pay for it.”

Buchanan also says that she and other Delta area lawmakers will demand sufficient time to evaluate any proposal and talk with their constituents.

“A half a million people live in the Delta and the impacts of new policies could last decades,” Buchanan said. “You can bet that I and my staff will be reading every word.”

Postscript: DeSaulnier’s trip to Spain was, ironically, a Senate-sponsored event to study the country’s national water system. “I learned more about water by staying home,” DeSaulnier said.

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DeSaulnier heads to Spain on legislative junket

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, is going to Spain to study its national water system.

Per the Los Angeles Times today, the Legislature postponed its special session on prisons and water until Oct. 13 in order to accommodate DeSaulnier’s and other lawmakers’ overseas exodus:

“Seven state senators are heading overseas this week, some having left Thursday, on a trip that includes stops in Copenhagen, Madrid, Bilbao and Barcelona.They plan to study Spain’s national water system and Scandinavian environmental programs, and to promote trade between California and Catalonia, according to a statement from the Senate Office of International Relations, which is organizing the trip.”

Uh, excuse me, but I Googled “Spain” and “national water system” and I got 18.7 million hits. See how easy that was? No plane ticket needed.

DeSaulnier doesn’t seen to regard Google as a worthy substitute for Madrid, and who can blame him?

He defended his decision to go on the week-long trip, saying the agenda contains important policy discussions and the opportunity to develop valuable personal relationships. Spain is paying for about half the trip and DeSaulnier says he will cover the rest out of his pocket or from his state campaign account.

“I think it is myopic to think that legislators have to stay in California to do their jobs,” DeSaulnier said. “Not everything was invented here.”

But, of course, if Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg wants legislators back in Sacramento before Oct. 13, DeSaulnier says he will cancel the trip.

Cowboy Libertarian and conservative commentator Patrick Dorinson does not sound sympathetic.

“They have to postpone the special session on water and prisons so they can go to Europe?” Dorinson said. “If there is ever a time when voters will go for a part-time legislature, it’s now.”

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DeSaulnier appointed chairman of reform panel

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, who lost Tuesday’s special 10th Congressional District special election, has been appointed co-chair of a joint Senate-Assembly committee on reform.

The committee will look at ways to make government and the legislative process more efficient.

It looks as though DeSaulnier is moving on after what had to be a disappointing loss. But I have never known him to spend any time feeling sorry for himself. He had plenty on his plate at the Senate before the 10th District seat unexpectedly opened in February and diverted his attention. He has repeatedly told me how much he enjoys his job in the Senate, and he is clearly getting back to it.

Read on for the press release out a few minutes ago:

Continue Reading

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Danville mayor will run for state Senate

Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich

Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich

Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich says he will run for the state Senate if Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, is elected to the 10th Congressional District.

The 14-year-veteran of the Danville Town Council and an owner of an architectural firm spent the weekend at the California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento talking with party leaders — Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, DeSaulnier and Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch — about his prospects and came away enthused.

It was his wife who told him he ought to run for the Legislature, he said. Janis teaches school in Orinda and she urged him to try and help fix a dysfunctional state budgeting process mired in partisan muck.

The Legislature’s failure to solve the state’s fiscal problems incrementally in prior years has led to massive and nearly unmanageable deficits that are pushing businesses out of California and hurting education, he said.

“I believe the opportunity for change is over the next 24 months and the voters are looking for it,” Arnerich said. ”

Arnerich is the first declared candidate for the District 7 Senate seat, should it become open.

Former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg is also looking at the race and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, may well have an interest in the Senate post if she is unsuccessful in her 10th Congressional District campaign.

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Bass and Steinberg vow to tackle water policy logjam

In a joint statement issued this afternoon, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento vowed to begin seriously addressing California’s water woes, particularly the Delta crisis:

Here is the statement:

Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) made the following joint statement today regarding legislative progress on legislation to aid California’s water infrastructure:

“We are working together with the Governor to make 2009 the year that we get a major series of water agreements done in California. We have already convened bipartisan and bicameral legislative meetings with the goal of having a comprehensive fix to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta on the table this legislative session, along with funding for water supply reliability and infrastructure investments.

The Governor has sounded the siren on this issue for a number of years and we’re prepared to work together to get it done. We have legislative engagement from Democrats and Republicans, from Senators and Assembly Members alike. And we will break the logjam on water resources in this state and solve the issues once and for all.”