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Sacramento Report: Area's Key Issues 'Fell Into Place'

October 10, 1985|GERALD FARIS | Times Staff Writer

Assemblyman Curtis R. Tucker worked for passage of a bill to provide $2 million for a Los Angeles County program to combat youth gangs. "It was one of the most important bills this year," said Tucker, an Inglewood Democrat who has made a specialty of trying to help teen-agers.

But Gov. George Deukmejian vetoed the bill, saying the state has a gang violence suppression program with a $2-million budget and the county can compete for that money.

Assemblyman Gerald N. Felando (R-San Pedro) got a $2-million grant for Rancho Palos Verdes to slow or stop the Portuguese Bend landslide that has been wrecking homes and roads for nearly 30 years. He also did well by commercial fishermen in his hometown of San Pedro, carrying a successful bill that allows the industry to catch more mackerel.

So it went during the 1985 session of the California Legislature, a session which South Bay legislators--and the cities they represent--ended with a mixed score card. Generally, legislators say, the session was a good one, with more cooperation between the governor and the Legislature and less partisan politicking than in some past years.

College Bill Failed

"It looked for a while that the session might be a disaster, but it fell into place," said Sen. Robert G. Beverly (R-Redondo Beach).

Depending on one's point of view, Beverly's failure to get a bill eliminating community college attendance boundaries out of the Assembly Education Committee was a win or a loss. The measure was favored by El Camino College, which stands to gain students from the large Los Angeles Community College District that lies just across the street from the Crenshaw Boulevard campus. But it was opposed by the Los Angeles district, which claims that its colleges--including Harbor and Southwest in the South Bay--already have lost more than 25,000 students to other districts--in part because of its own unsuccessful experiment with so-called "free-flow" enrollment.

Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles), whose district includes Los Angeles International Airport, Westchester and the Baldwin Hills area, said she was incensed when the insurance industry succeeded in killing her bill to prohibit companies from canceling insurance of victims of fire disasters. The massive Baldwin Hills fire in July killed three people and destroyed 48 homes. Even though the state insurance commissioner guaranteed coverage through an insurance pool, Moore said insurance companies refused to renew policies in four cases. "I do plan to look at insurance companies next year," Moore said.

On the plus side, most South Bay legislators pointed to a state budget giving more money for education, a bill providing lower-cost liability insurance for day-care centers threatened by large premiums that could shut some down, and welfare reform. However, that so-called "workfare" bill--requiring people to work or receive job training for their welfare stipends--pitted against each other two South Bay legislators whose constituents would be significantly affected.

'Forced Work Force'

"It takes the incentives out of people going on welfare and staying there," Assemblyman Tucker said. But Sen. Diane E. Watson (D-Los Angeles), whose district stretches southward to Lawndale, said "the principle of a forced work force . . . is repulsive to me."

In an issue squarely focused on the South Bay, parents whose young children are testifying in the marathon McMartin Pre-School child molestation case and in other cases won the right to have those children testify by closed-circuit television, even though they had to wait until last week to see it implemented because of courtroom wrangles.

Assemblyman Dave Elder (D-Long Beach), whose district includes the harbor area, said his successful bill extending local sales and use tax exemptions on fuel and other products used by ships in foreign commerce will help keep business and jobs in California ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach. He said resumption of the local tax would add $3,000 to the cost of fueling a ship and could send it to another port.

On the loss side of the ledger, South Bay cities that do not collect their own property taxes--such as Rolling Hills Estates, Carson and Lawndale--lost a bid to receive a portion of the property tax their residents pay to the county but the cities never see. Proposition 13 made it difficult for cities to impose new taxes, and only cities that had property taxes before the tax-cutting measure receive money collected and distributed by the county.

'Deep-Pockets' Bill

Most California cities, including those in the South Bay, strongly backed the so-called "deep pockets" liability reform bill that would have limited financial responsibility in pain-and-suffering judgments to the extent that public agencies or businesses are at fault. Under current "deep- pockets" rules, government and businesses found partly at fault in negligence cases can be required to pay the victim the entire court judgment if co-defendants have no money.

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