More than 100 bills fail to clear key Assembly fiscal committee

A number of proposed tax credits and deductions were shelved Friday, including one for seismic retrofits

More than 100 bills were sidelined in an Assembly panel Friday, including a series of tax credit proposals and a measure to provide special driver's license designations for veterans.

There were 368 bills considered by the Assembly appropriations committee that would cost altogether $4.6 billion. The number of bills advancing to the Assembly floor was whittled to 245, which would have a combined cost of $800 million.

"There are lots of great ideas, but not every idea can be funded by the taxpayer," said Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), the committee's chairman.

On the chopping block were a number of tax credits and deductions, including a credit for seismic retrofitting construction by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks) and a proposed deduction for pet adoptions by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento). 

Also shelved was a bill that would allow someone who has served in the military to get drivers licenses marked with a designation that he or she is a veteran.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), the author of AB 1637, said he was disappointed the bill did not move forward.

“While the path forward for the successful implementation of this program in California is still unclear, 47 other states have found a way to successfully identify their veterans on a driver’s license or identification card," he said in a statement. 

The committee held back a bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) that would have established a voluntary and confidential counseling program for doctors struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues. The proposal, AB 2436, was sponsored by the California Medical Assn.

“It’s unfortunate, but we remain firmly committed to implementing a statewide physician wellness program since California remains one of the few states in America without one,” said Molly Weedn, the group’s spokeswoman.

Opponents, including trial lawyers and consumer groups, said the measure's confidentiality provision would mean failed drug tests would be kept secret from the medical board. The opponents are pushing for random drug testing for doctors in a ballot initiative this November.

Another high-profile Gonzalez bill, one to require businesses to give employees at least three paid sick days a year, made it through the committee, despite strong opposition from business groups. That measure, AB 1522, will be voted on the Assembly floor next week, as will tax credits for the state's film and television production and a proposal to close a loophole related to Proposition 13.

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