After one of his constituents was killed by a robber at an automatic teller machine in Montebello, state Sen. Charles Calderon began a three-year crusade to improve safety at ATMs. But until recently, his bill aimed at regulating automatic teller machines languished in the Legislature because of opposition from the banking lobby.
Common ATM crimes include muggings, armed robberies and stolen cards that result in electronic theft. Since 1987, Calderon has pushed legislation to improve the lighting, design and location of teller machines and force banks to educate consumers on how to avoid such crimes.
When the Whittier Democrat amended his ATM public safety bill this summer, he finally satisfied the concerns of the California Bankers Assn. and the League of Savings Institutions. But now he faces opposition from the California League of Cities, which is urging Gov. George Deukmejian to veto Calderon's AB 244, which has been approved by the Legislature.
Local government officials complain that the bill establishes weak safety rules for ATMs and prevents municipalities from enacting tougher local ordinances.
"This bill has minimum public safety standards," said league lobbyist David Jones. The bill should address requirements such as security cameras, locking doors and security personnel at ATM machines, according to Jones.
"Plus, it preempts the cities; they can't do anything because state law prevails," said Jones.
To neutralize opposition from the banking lobby, Calderon agreed to language that says the state legislation would supersede all local rules pertaining to consumer safety at ATMs.
"Without the state preemption, we would still be fighting this bill," said League of Savings lobbyist David Milton.
Nonetheless, Calderon said that the League of Cities' concerns are "nonsense," and argued that his legislation is tougher than any local law that has been proposed. Only the cities of Los Angeles and San Jose have considered such regulations, according to Calderon.
"One reason I introduced this legislation is that local government has taken no steps to regulate ATMs," he said.
'No Refund' Policy Must Be Disclosed
Retailers who don't allow exchanges and cash or credit refunds must now post that policy at each cash register, sales counter and entrance, according to legislation signed by Gov. Deukmejian last month.
Introduced by Assemblywoman Carol Bentley (R-El Cajon), the bill doesn't require stores to change their refund policies but demands that they disclose that exchanges and refunds are not permitted. Stores that allow exchanges and refunds would not be affected.
"Sometimes buying a product can be a surprise in itself," said Bentley. "You shouldn't have another surprise if you decide to return it."
Partnerships to Help Divide Lottery Booty
In January, businesses that sell lottery tickets will offer model partnership agreements for friends, fellow workers or family members who pool their money to purchase tickets.
In the event they win a jackpot, pooled-ticket winners can use the sample contract for setting up the legal arrangements for how the booty will be divided.
In the absence of such an agreement, disputes among winners "have led to lawsuits over prizes among relatives, friends and co-workers," according to Assemblyman Richard Floyd (D-Gardenia), who introduced the legislation that requires the California Lottery Commission to prepare the agreement.
"You shouldn't need a lawyer when you split a ticket with your next door neighbor," said Floyd.
Just signed by the governor, the legislation would also legitimize group purchases of lottery tickets. Under the old law, the lottery commission doesn't recognize multiple holders of a single winning ticket.
The previous statute not only forbids "pool sharing," but it also says that assigning lottery prizes is illegal, except in the event of a winner's death.
Therefore, nothing prevents a person who holds a winning ticket, but is part of a group, from laying claim to the entire prize, according to Floyd.
The bill also could make it easier for the state to collect back taxes and unpaid child support. The lottery law has always required winners to deduct these items from their winnings. But there are no state policies on whether a lottery winner can avoid this requirement by purchasing a ticket with another person who owes no back taxes or no child support.
One Customer Is All, but What a Customer
There's a Businessland computer store in Sacramento that doesn't spend a nickel on advertising but racks up hefty sales volume.
While other outlets in the Hayward-based Businessland chain are suffering from a slump in computer sales, the Sacramento store has sold $50 million in hardware and software in the past two years.
The reason? It has one--and only one--very reliable customer. The State of California accounted for all the purchases at the 4,000-square-foot downtown location.
Dubbed the Computer Source, the Businessland outlet looks like any other retail operation with one difference--it sells exclusively to state agencies. In the last 24 months, the state purchased more than 11,000 computers from the store at 6th and J streets.
Modeled after a similar program used by the federal government, Computer Source sells its products through state purchase orders instead of cash, credit or checks and offers a 25% discount to the state, according to Anne Garbeff, spokeswoman for the Department of General Services, which recently extended an agreement with Businessland for an exclusive buying arrangement for purchasing computer equipment.
The Computer Source discount has saved the state more than $17 million, according to Garbeff. Moreover, it's convenient and efficient for agencies to buy from a single vendor who understands the peculiar workings of the state bureaucracy.