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Gov. vetoes a raft of bills

Among those he rejects as he races a deadline is one meant to curb cosmetic surgery-related deaths.

September 29, 2008|Nancy Vogel | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — A measure intended to prevent cosmetic surgery-related deaths fell victim to a rash of vetoes Sunday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The bill was written after the death last November of Donda West, mother of rapper Kanye West. The 58-year-old woman died one day after breast reduction and liposuction surgery, and an autopsy found health problems, including high blood pressure and cardiac artery blockage.

In vetoing the measure, Schwarzenegger said this summer's historic, 85-day delay in passage of a state budget left him with time to enact only the highest-priority legislation for California.

"This bill does not meet that standard, and I cannot sign it at this time," states the veto message, which he applied to dozens of others Sunday.

Schwarzenegger has until midnight Tuesday to sign or veto all of the nearly 900 bills sent to him by the Legislature last month. If he does not act, those bills become law.

The cosmetic surgery bill, AB 2968 by Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter (D-Rialto), would have required people to undergo a physical examination, give a complete medical history and get a doctor's clearance before undergoing plastic surgery. It received almost-unanimous support in the Legislature.

Schwarzenegger also vetoed a bill that was written by Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore) after a couple of bartenders at his local Elks Lodge were prosecuted for running a football betting pool with a total prize of $50. The measure, AB 1852, would have made participation in a sports betting pool the criminal equivalent of a parking ticket.

Hotly debated legislation by state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) to prohibit convictions based on the uncorroborated testimony of a jailhouse informant also fell by the wayside. Schwarzenegger explained his veto of SB 1589 by saying that the testimony of in-custody informants is rarely used and that current laws "provide adequate safeguards against its misuse."

Schwarzenegger signed several bills meant to protect the elderly in California, where the fastest-growing population is over 85. Those laws mean that next year assisted-living homes will be required to show potential customers their history of rate hikes, tell local prosecutors about suspected abuse and plan for such emergencies as blackouts.

In testimony to the Legislature this year, nursing home residents and their families complained of sudden rate hikes of 8% and blackouts that trapped wheelchair-using residents without elevator service.

"Many of us are aging," said Assemblywoman Lois Wolk (D-Davis) after introducing two related measures in February. "We live far from our families. It's important that these facilities be well run."

Schwarzenegger signed Wolk's AB 2100, which requires long-term care facilities to immediately report cases of suspected physical, financial or sexual abuse to the local district attorney's office. He also enacted AB 749 by Wolk, which requires nursing homes to write emergency plans and make them available to residents.

The governor also moved to require that assisted care homes show residents and potential customers a history of monthly rate increases over the previous three years. He signed AB 2370 by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles).

In a written statement, Schwarzenegger said, "Protecting our growing population of older Californians and helping them feel safe and secure is a priority of mine."

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nancy.vogel@latimes.com

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