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Gov. Acts on Last of New Bills

Schwarzenegger bans riding in car trunks and backs 60 days' eviction notice. He rejects hemp farming and college aid for illegal immigrants.

October 01, 2006|Jordan Rau | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger finished evaluating the year's crop of legislation Saturday by requiring landlords to give 60 days' eviction notice, banning people from riding in the trunks of cars and stopping vintners from associating their wine with Sonoma County except under certain conditions.

Acting on the last of 1,172 bills sent to him this year by the Democratic-led Legislature, Schwarzenegger vetoed measures that would have allowed illegal immigrants to obtain financial aid for college, would have granted journalists broad access to interview inmates in the state's troubled prison system, would have allowed farmers to grow industrial hemp and would have prevented untrained individuals from buying ultrasound machines for personal use.

All told, Schwarzenegger approved 910 measures. He rejected 262, or 22% of the legislation he considered, a veto rate 2 percentage points lower than that of his first two years. But that statistic does not capture the degree of collaboration that marked the election-year lawmaking session.

The Republican governor and the Democrats agreed to increase the minimum wage, expand regulation of pharmaceutical companies and greenhouse gas polluters, and allow phone companies to compete with cable companies in providing pay television service.

"There has been a tangible difference in the way the administration has done business, and for the most part it's been a change for the better," said state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto).

Saturday was the last day under law that Schwarzenegger could act on bills sent to him by lawmakers before their adjournment in August. On the final day, the governor:

* Ordered a reduction in the amount of lead permissible in pipes and other plumbing that carry water for people to drink. Lead can damage the developing brains and organs of young children. AB 1953 by Assemblywoman Wilma Chan (D-Alameda) will reduce the current 8% limit to 0.25%.

* Extended a law requiring landlords to give tenants 60 days' notice for evictions if the tenants have occupied their residence for at least a year. AB 1169 by Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Newark) expires in 2010.

"As a landlord for many years, I am acutely aware of the burdens faced by property owners and managers," Schwarzenegger wrote in a message that accompanied his signing of the measure. "That said, California faces significant challenges in its housing market, and I believe that [the bill] strikes a reasonable balance between the needs of tenants and those of property owners."

* Prohibited the sale of wine carrying a name or label suggesting that the product is made in Sonoma County unless 75% of the grapes used come from there. SB 1280 was sponsored by Sen. Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata).

* Required wireless computer networking equipment to include warnings explaining how consumers can protect their personal information over the airwaves. AB2415 was sponsored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles).

* Banned people from riding in the trunks of cars. Law enforcement officials say teenagers have engaged in the practice, known as "trunking," in efforts to evade provisional-license restrictions on carrying passengers younger than 20.

Last year two teenagers riding in a trunk in Glendora were thrown onto the highway when the car hit a divider; they were run over and killed. AB 1850 by Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy (R-Monrovia) adds a point on the motorist's driver's license and carries fines from $370 for a first offense to $900 for a third violation.

* Allowed oral surgeons to perform plastic surgery such as face lifts and lip augmentation. Schwarzenegger vetoed a version of the measure two years ago. The issue had sparked a major turf battle between physicians and the oral surgeons, who are dentists with operating room expertise. The bill is SB 438 by Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco).

* Required large supermarkets to set up a system for customers to recycle plastic bags. AB 2449 was sponsored by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys).

For the second year in a row, Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation that would have allowed journalists to be granted individual interviews with specific prisoners. SB 1521 by Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) had won the backing of not only Democrats but also nearly every Republican in the Assembly. Many said that although they did not want to give criminals a public platform, the problems with California's prisons were so substantial that wider access was justified.

Schwarzenegger wrote in his veto message. "I do not believe violent criminals should be able to traumatize their victims a second time by having unfettered access to the media."

On Saturday, his administration announced new regulations permitting journalists to interview nonviolent offenders in some cases.

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