Capitol's Lineup of Thorny Issues

The Assembly and Senate took action on hundreds of bills this week to comply with Friday's deadline for passing legislation from the house in which the measures originated. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year Sept. 11, and has a monthlong summer recess planned from July 17 to Aug. 17, leaving only seven weeks to resolve a number of thorny issues. Among those are:

Budget--A $41.1-billion budget for the 1986-87 fiscal year has passed the Senate, but Assembly Republicans are blocking action until Democrats approve Gov. George Deukmejian's plan to rebate a $700-million surplus to taxpayers. Much legislative maneuvering is expected at least until July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

Prison--Negotiations are continuing between the Deukmejian Administration and Senate Democrats over where to place a new prison in Los Angeles County. The Assembly has repeatedly passed bills to locate the prison where the governor wants it, on Los Angeles' Eastside. But Democrats in the Senate want a second prison in a Republican area and more environmental reviews. The stalemate already has lasted for nearly two years.

Proposition 13--The 1978 property tax-cutting initiative by the anti-tax crusading team of Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann created inequities in which homeowners who purchased before the initiative pay far less in property taxes than those living in identical homes purchased later. A major bill to grant tax relief to those who bought or built recently was introduced and faces its first test in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee.

Toll Roads--The fate of California's tradition of tax-financed freeways rests with several bills that would allow construction of toll roads in the state's traffic-clogged regions. Similar bills allowing Orange County to push ahead with Eastern-style turnpikes have cleared both houses. Legislation allowing pay roads throughout California passed the Assembly but faces a tough fight in the Senate.

AIDS--Dozens of bills to provide more resources for AIDS research and patient care are awaiting action in both houses, along with a number of bills requiring testing for specific high-risk groups. One of the most controversial is Senate-passed legislation that would allow wider disclosure of the test results without an individual's consent. It faces an uphill fight in the Assembly.

Wages--The Senate and the Assembly have passed differing bills intended to increase the minimum wage from $3.35 to $4.25 per hour. The Industrial Welfare Commission is also holding hearings on the same issue and could boost the wage without legislative action. At the same time, the Assembly has passed a bill to grant legislators a 10% pay hike from $37,105 to $40,816. A much more generous Senate proposal awaiting a vote would more than double lawmakers' salaries to $81,505.

Abortion--After repeated unsuccessful attempts, abortion foes succeeded in winning Assembly passage of a bill requiring minors to obtain a parent's consent or judicial authorization before having an abortion. The bill stands a good chance of landing on the governor's desk, because the Senate has approved similar bills in the past.

Water--Attempts to move more water to semiarid Southern California, traditionally opposed by the water-rich north, are gaining ground this session with Assembly approval of a bill to widen channels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta while improving water quality. A rival bill has been approved in the Senate, and differences will probably will be worked out in a two-house conference committee.

Smog--California faces a December deadline to comply with federal air-quality standards. Three bills intended to show the state is making a good-faith effort have passed the Assembly and are awaiting action in the Senate. They would require new cars to be equipped with gasoline vapor-capturing canisters and to use clean-burning methanol. The third bill would force pollution control boards to crack down on both stationary and mobile sources of pollution.

Tuition--Parents who look forward to sending their children to a state-supported college or university would be able to prepay the ever-escalating cost of tuition at today's prices under a bill approved by the Assembly. Based on a program already in place in Michigan, the bill is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate.

Beer--Legislation, heavily fought by consumer groups, which would give beer distributors monopoly territories sailed through the Assembly and is pending in the Senate. Approval in the upper house appears likely because the Senate passed similar legislation in a previous session.

Tax Conformity--In a rush to selectively conform California's income tax system to the newly overhauled federal tax codes, both houses of the Legislature have passed different versions of tax conformity legislation. All would take effect this tax year but a final measure will have to be hammered out in a two-house conference committee sometime this fall.

Motorcycle Helmets--It took more than two decades, but lawmakers in the Assembly overcame vehement opposition from some motorcycle riders and passed legislation requiring cyclists to wear helmets. A big fight is expected in the Senate Transportation Committee when the bill comes up for its first vote next week.

Bilingual--With the state's bilingual education requirements set to expire at the end of this month, the Assembly passed a bill by Democratic Speaker Willie Brown of San Francisco that would extend the program until 1992. The bill stands a good chance in the Senate, but the governor vetoed similar legislation last year, contending that reforms are needed.

Campaign Reform--Reeling from the high cost of campaigning and the bad publicity fund-raising often brings, the Senate has approved comprehensive campaign finance reform legislation that would impose limits on contributions and spending while allowing partial public financing. A similar measure is awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

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