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Senate OKs Bill to Obtain Data on Investments by Foreigners

June 28, 1989|CARL INGRAM | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — The Senate, reflecting concern over the extent of foreign investment in the state, voted Tuesday to require foreign businesses to disclose details of their operations in California.

On a 22-6 vote, the Senate sent the bill by Sen. Joseph Montoya (D-Whittier) to the Assembly. One opponent, Sen. Ed Davis (R-Valencia), maintained that the proposal would encourage "bashing" of investors from Japan and other nations.

But Montoya insisted: "We are not bashing anyone."

In separate actions, the upper chamber also overwhelmingly approved legislation to toughen penalties against students who attack teachers but rejected a bill to require fast-food operations to label the type of oil used in cooking.

Montoya's bill, one of the Legislature's few attempts to deal with widespread concern that California is being bought up by wealthy foreign investors, generated relatively little debate.

Under the measure, starting April 1, foreign individuals and corporate investors in California real estate or commercial property would have to file annual reports with the secretary of state. Failure to do so would be punishable by a $10,000 fine.

The reports would provide such information as interest in real estate or in tangible property, if value exceeds $2 million or an investment represents more than 5% of the total ownership.

Among other things, the investor would have to report his or her citizenship, business ownerships, purchase prices of ownership interests, acreage and square footage acquired and nature or percentage of ownership interests.

Excluded from filing would be foreigners with an interest of less than $350,000 in a business operation in California or those whose only investment is in a single-family dwelling that the buyer occupied continuously.

The information would be supplied to the secretary of state, who, in turn, would produce a report for the governor and Legislature listing aggregate data but not identifying investors by name, address or dollar amounts.

Montoya said such information is needed because data "we get from the federal Department of Commerce is 3 years old. (And) if other countries monitor American investments, we ought to do the same thing so we can better plan what we are going to do in the future."

Background material supplied to the Senate showed that investors from Canada were the largest foreign owners of plants and equipment in California at $5.6 billion, followed by Japan at $4.6 billion and the United Kingdom at $4.3 billion.

The Japanese were the largest foreign employers in California at 60,900 workers, followed by West Germany at 52,550 and the United Kingdom at 51,400.

In a separate action, the Senate approved and sent to the Assembly on a 28-1 vote a bill to crack down on youths who attack teachers. The bill calls for trying as adults 16- and 17-year-olds accused of first-degree murder.

The bill, by Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Tarzana), was prompted by a recent series of violent acts against teachers, including the fatal March 24 shooting outside his home of Hal Arthur, 60, a popular Grant High School teacher in the San Fernando Valley.

The bill calls for adding three years to the sentences of youths convicted of crimes against teachers or other school employees on school-related business either on or off campus. Such crimes would include murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape and kidnaping.

Sixteen- and 17-year-olds accused of first-degree murder of school employees would be tried as adults, unless a judge found circumstances that justified trying them in juvenile court.

But Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), an opponent of the death penalty, voiced concern that the bill could "play right into the hands" of those who favor executing murderers under age 18. She said her fear is fueled by U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Monday that 16- and 17-year-old murderers and slayers afflicted by mental retardation can be put to death under certain circumstances.

Robbins and others countered, however, that the bill would not change California's prohibition against executing murderers under age 18. To change the law would require separate legislation, they said.

Defeat of the bill requiring fast-food chains to label food containers to identify the type of oils used in cooking represented a victory for the fast-food industry. The bill was designed to help consumers avoid saturated fats that can raise cholesterol levels, including animal fat, coconut oil and palm oil.

The measure, by Sen. Barry Keene (D-Benicia), failed on an 18-15 vote, three votes short of the 21 required. Members of the Senate came under heavy pressure from the restaurant and grocery industries to vote against the bill, arguing that such labeling could spread to the rest of the food industry.

Times staff writer Richard Paddock contributed to this story.

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