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Four to sign

From wildfire safety to insurance protections, these bills deserve the governor's approval.

September 30, 2008

It's amazing that California lawmakers were able to pass anything this year, given their inability to produce a timely and responsible budget. But they did come up with some good bills that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should sign. He has until midnight tonight to make these bills law:

Assembly Bill 2447. Schwarzenegger proposed new fees on property owners to pay for increasingly expensive firefighting in, among other areas, new mountain and rural developments. It was a good start to a necessary conversation, but without fine-tuning, it would unjustly allow builders and buyers of ever more remote homes to pass their fire protection costs to others. This common-sense bill from Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) helps provide some balance by restricting the approval of new subdivisions unless they conform with state fire regulations and planners find that fire protection will be available.

Senate Bill 974. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was off-base when she asked Schwarzenegger to veto this bill, by Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), to fund environmental cleanup of the state's ports with fees on cargo containers moving through Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. Palin said the California fee -- $60 for every 40-foot container -- would make goods shipped through the state before proceeding to Alaska too costly for her constituents. Nonsense. The small fee would save the people of this state -- and perhaps hers as well -- a fortune in health costs and lost productivity.

Assembly Bill 1945. This important bill by Assemblyman Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate) takes on the problem of insurance companies retroactively revoking coverage, sometimes on dubious grounds. It would subject such action to review by the state Department of Managed Health Care or the Department of Insurance.

Senate Bill 375. This groundbreaking measure would build on Schwarzenegger's work to make California a leader in combating global climate change. The bill, by Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), would for the first time allow the state to use its transportation funds to reward plans that provide for housing near job centers and transit corridors and to slow the advance of land-gobbling, pollution-producing sprawl. The remaining business opponents who see the state's future in farther-flung suburbs and longer commutes will eventually come to grips with the escalating environmental, fuel, health and business costs of such an approach, but California can't afford to wait for them.

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