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Davis Signs 2 Bills That May Expand Health Program for Poor

October 01, 2000|MIGUEL BUSTILLO and CARL INGRAM | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Labor officials have complained that some state contractors have diverted the funds to oppose the unionization of their workers. They identified hospitals as a chief target.

"We find a lot of intimidation of those folks who want to speak up against injustices at the workplace," said Art Pulanski, secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. He said he was pleased by Davis' action.

The second labor bill, SB 1960 by Burton, will require all public school and community college employees who are not union members to pay an "agency shop" fee to the union that negotiates their work contracts.

Opposed by Republicans, boards of education and school administrators, the legislation is similar to a recently enacted program for employees of the University of California and California State University systems.

By signing the Malibu bill, AB 988, Davis authorized the end of "Malibu Days" at the Coastal Commission. Coastal commissioners and the politicians who appointed them--Hertzberg, Burton and Davis--had reportedly grown tired of lobbying by the coastal city's wealthy celebrity residents for minor home add-ons. The Coastal Commission maintains watch over 1,100 miles of California coastline.

The bill will require the Coastal Commission to draft a plan governing coastal development in the city, something that Malibu has failed to do, and immediately require the city to assume responsibility for issuing coastal permits for building projects. Malibu officials had opposed the measure.

And a day after vetoing a tougher measure to crack down on farm labor contractors, Davis signed a bill, AB 1338 by Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes (D-Fresno) that imposes tougher licensing standards on the largely unregulated middlemen who employ much of the state's agricultural work force.

The bill increases license fees and examination requirements for the largely unregulated contractors, as well as boosting enforcement. It also increases wage surety bonds to ensure that farm workers are paid if a contractors' dispute arises.

"I have the greatest respect for farm workers," said Davis, who on Friday vetoed a farm laborer protection bill sponsored by the United Farm Workers union. "They do some of the most backbreaking work there is."

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Davis also signed Saturday:

* Driver's licenses. Inspired by the case of Brandi Mitock, a 15-year-old Woodland Hills girl killed by a 96-year-old motorist, the DMV will be required to test certain vision-impaired drivers to ensure that they are able to operate a motor vehicle under SB 335 by Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles). The bill establishes a minimum vision requirement for a driver's license, and imposes additional behind-the-wheel testing requirements.

* Santa Monica Mountains. The governing board of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy will grow from eight to nine members and the advisory board from 23 to 26 members. SB 1455 by Sen. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) also allows both houses of the Legislature to appoint three members to meet with the conservancy on a regular basis.

* Water Replenishment District. Two bills impose new restrictions on the controversial Water Replenishment District of Southern California, following recommendations made in a critical state audit. AB 1834 by Assemblywoman Sally Havice (D-Cerritos) reforms the way such districts are governed, including the way they increase assessments. It also requires them to follow competitive bidding practices. SB 1979 by Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Whittier) addresses the use of the extraordinary cash reserves held by the district.

* Health plans. Health care service plans will have to notify those enrolled in their programs if they terminate a contract with a primary care provider under SB 1746 by Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont). The bill also requires the plans to help those affected choose new primary care providers.

* Credit disclosure. Credit card companies will be required to inform customers of their right to block disclosure of personal marketing information at least 60 days before the data are released. AB 2869 by Assemblyman Michael Machado (D-Linden) also requires issuers to provide toll-free telephone numbers for customers to call to prohibit release of the information.

* Credit scoring. Credit reporting companies and lenders must explain in greater detail how they arrived at a consumer's "credit score" for purposes of a home loan under SB 1607 by Figueroa. The companies also must disclose the identities of businesses that inquire about a customer's credit worthiness.

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Davis vetoed:

* Voting. AB 2519 by Assemblyman Kevin Shelley (D-San Francisco) would have authorized an experiment to test voting on the Internet. Davis said he believed the proposal did not contain sufficient safeguards against fraud.

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