Millions of taxpayers' dollars could be saved by restricting the state's use of outside private lawyers, according to the sponsor of a bill that has been introduced in the Senate.
SB 1594 by Sen. Daniel E. Boatwright (D-Concord) would require state agencies to use staff lawyers in all cases that do not involve a clear conflict of interest unless written consent is provided by the attorney general.
The bill is based on a recent attorney general's report that showed 136 state agencies have 160 contracts for outside legal services at a potential cost to taxpayers of $30 million. More than 600 lawyers work in the attorney general's office, and 83 state agencies employ additional in-house lawyers on payroll.
Private lawyers can earn as much as $350 an hour from the state while staff lawyers are paid a $79.50 average hourly rate.
"California is facing a $6-billion deficit in the coming year," Boatwright said, "and we need to rein some of the now commonplace practice of hiring outside lawyers when we've already got some of the best lawyers in the state working for us."
Signed into law a bill (AB 1681) by Assemblyman Richard L. Mountjoy (R-Monrovia) to prohibit law enforcement officials from disclosing a victim's home address or telephone number to anyone arrested for the crime or who is a potential defendant.
Free Condoms: AB 3230 by Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach) would prohibit any person from distributing free condoms to any person under 18 on public property. A first offense violation would call for a $200 fine with higher fines for subsequent offenses.
Joint Custody: AB 2930 by Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles) would require a court to provide each parent in a divorce case with a list of specific rights and responsibilities when issuing an order awarding joint custody of a minor child.
Rape Penalties: AB 2753 by Assemblywoman Carol Bentley (R-El Cajon) would allow judges to add 18 years to life to the prison sentences for convicted repeat violent rapists. Gov. Pete Wilson requested this measure in his State of the State message.
Mammograms: AB 2841 by Assemblywoman Deirdre Alpert (D-Del Mar) would allow the state Department of Health Services to establish more stringent requirements, including continuing education, for persons who perform mammography to discover breast cancer.
State Studies: AB 2874 by Assemblyman Bob Epple (D-Norwalk) would require state agencies to stop all studies that are found not to be essential to protect the public health, welfare or safety.
Sports Memorabilia: AB 3113 by Assemblywoman Jackie Speier (D-South San Francisco) would require dealers selling autographed sports items over $50 to provide buyers with a certificate of authenticity. Failure to do so or including false information would make the dealer liable for civil damages.
Black History Month: ACR 91 by Assemblyman Curtis Tucker Jr. (D-Inglewood) would proclaim February to be Black History Month.
Transportation Authority: The Transportation Committee approved a bill (AB 152) by Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sylmar) to create the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build and operate transit systems and plan for highway improvements. It would replace the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission and the Southern California Rapid Transit District. A 9-1 vote sent the bill to the Appropriations Committee.
Seat Belts: The Transportation Committee approved a bill (AB 338) by Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) to allow law enforcement officers to cite motorists for not wearing seats belts without there being another traffic violation. As is, a motorist cannot be stopped just for the seat belt law infraction. A 9-0 vote sent the bill to the Appropriations Committee.
School Taxes: SCA 37 by Sen. Newton R. Russell (R-Glendale) would allow school districts to propose the adoption of a special tax on property owners that would take effect upon approval of 60% of district voters.
Prenatal Care: SB 1561 by Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) would require school health classes for pupils 12 to 18 years old to include a discussion of the importance of prenatal care for pregnant women.
Veterans' License Plates: SB 1558 by Sen. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) would authorize veterans of U.S. military service to purchase special license plates for an additional fee.