When it comes to making law, Sen. John R. Lewis (R-Orange) has hardly sought a prominent place in the legislative record book.
During 10 years in the Democrat-controlled Assembly, Lewis openly flouted the idea that a legislator should be measured by the volume of laws he writes. While colleagues scrambled each year to fatten their resumes with scores of bills, he made a point to push relatively few measures.
But now the reluctant lawmaker says he's had a change of heart.
"I intend to carry a larger bill load in the future," said Lewis, who won a special election to the Senate in May.
And not a moment too soon: Lewis was one of the least productive lawmakers in the Orange County delegation this year, according to statistics compiled by The Times.
Both Lewis and Assemblyman Ross Johnson (R-La Habra) had only two bills signed into law--far fewer than most of their area colleagues, the numbers show. Meanwhile, Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach) led local lawmakers by maneuvering 25 measures into state statute books.
The state Constitution specifically assigns the grunt work of writing, debating, shaping and approving legislation to the 120 full-time lawmakers, who carry thousands of ideas into every two-year session.
So far in the current 1991-92 session, Orange County's delegation of seven Assembly members and five senators have penned 129 laws, accounting for about 9% of the new measures on the books.
Some of the Orange County-inspired laws were controversial and wide-ranging: Banning the free distribution of cigarette samples and blocking further oil drilling off the coast.
Most measures, however, were more narrowly drawn, written to address local problems or tailored to requests by prominent constituents such as the Walt Disney Co., Carl's Jr. and Santa Ana City Councilman John Acosta.
Despite the accomplishments, many local lawmakers conceded that a succession of political and fiscal crises this year--notably, the state's monumental budget deficit--made 1991 a so-so year for new laws.
"In terms of being able to focus on major, substantive issues, everybody's energy was drained by the budget," said Sen. Frank Hill (R-Whittier).
Such was the case with Ross Johnson, said a spokeswoman for the former Assembly Republican leader.
Johnson nursed only two minor bills into law, she said, because he was otherwise busy trying to keep together an unruly caucus of Assembly Republicans opposed to $7 billion in proposed new taxes this summer. After weeks of stubborn resistance, Johnson lost control of his caucus, lost the tax fight and was eventually dumped from his leadership post.
For his part, Lewis said he spent much of his time campaigning in Orange County to fill the vacancy created when Wilson appointed former state Sen. John Seymour (R-Anaheim) to the U.S. Senate.
But other Orange County lawmakers managed to do much more. Following is a list of their individual legislative highlights:
Bergeson. Easily the workhorse of the delegation, nearly half of Bergeson's 51 proposals became law. Her biggest coup was beating tobacco companies with a measure to ban the distribution of free cigarette and chewing tobacco samples on street corners. It was the only one of 13 anti-smoking measures to survive the Legislature.
Bergeson also passed a measure that prohibits school employees to serve on the boards of their own district, a bill hotly contested by the powerful California Teachers Assn. "I think the big success was being able to beat down the special interests. . . ," Bergeson said.
Meanwhile, Wilson vetoed three Bergeson bills, including one measure that would have provided additional relief to victims of sexual harassment.
Sen. Cecil N. Green (D-Norwalk). Green--whose Los Angeles district dips south into Los Alamitos, Cypress and Garden Grove--had 17 bills signed into law. One establishes future building standards and a low-interest loan program for areas, such as Cypress, where soil chemicals corrode the concrete foundations of homes. Another helps lower the cost of earthquake insurance and a third takes driver's licenses away from truants. Four Green measures were passed but vetoed.
Assemblyman Robert C. Frazee (R-Carlsbad). There were no Orange County-related bills among the 14 non-controversial items carried this year by Frazee, whose North San Diego County district just barely takes in San Clemente. Redistricting plans will move him out of Orange County altogether.
Hill. The Whittier Republican says his most significant successful bill allows university alumni to pay an extra $50 for special license plates emblazoned with their school's logos and mascots. Half of the money is to be used to buy and conserve riparian habitat, a program created by another Hill law.
A Hill measure signed into law also addressed three highly publicized Orange County court decisions in which birth mothers gained custody of children already placed through independent adoptions. Hill's bill terminates the mother's parental rights if she gave up her child and did not contest the adoption within six months.
Hill also carried legislation for Walt Disney Co. changing the state's real estate law as part of the entertainment giant's plan to build a chain of time-share resorts.
Sen. Edward R. Royce (R-Anaheim). Royce, who is running for Congress, saw 10 bills become law, including one that enhances retirement service awards for volunteer firefighters. Another extends a state program to give the adoptive parents of special-needs children a stipend. Royce also successfully carried a bill allowing juvenile court judges to issue restraining orders against parents who threaten social workers.
Royce also came to the aid of Acosta, who dialed Sacramento after his masonry business lost a lucrative subcontracting job at Cal State Fullerton. Acosta said his company was lowest bidder but was disqualified after it declined to post a performance bond.
At Acosta's request, Royce passed a law that says subcontractors need not post such bonds in the future unless they are told before submitting their bids.
Assemblyman Tom Mays (R-Huntington Beach). In his debut, the rookie legislator and former Huntington Beach mayor wrote eight new laws, including one that stems directly from last year's oil spill off the coast of his hometown.
Mays joined two other lawmakers in designating unleased tracts off Orange, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties as off limits to oil drilling, except in a national emergency. This law codifies current policy under the State Lands Commission, the agency that regulates development in coastal waters.
Wilson vetoed one Mays bill that would have exempted food prepared for county jails from sales taxes.
Assemblywoman Doris Allen (R-Cypress). Allen had seven bills signed into law. Among the most important was a measure promoting child care centers at state-owned transit facilities--a move to accommodate working parents.
Other new laws written by Allen include one that forces credit bureaus to stop reporting bankruptcies more than seven years after the fact, as well as another that gives renters at mobile home parks the right to find out who owns the park. A statute inspired by a case in the San Juan Capistrano schools now removes a teacher from the classroom if he is charged with sexual battery.
Assemblyman Nolan Frizzelle (R-Fountain Valley). Undeniably the most important of Frizzelle's six successful measures was one drafted during the budget drama that transferred about $1.6 billion in interest from the public employees retirement fund to other state operations.
Frizzelle and other conservatives said the interest was over and above what the massive fund needed to guarantee that pensions retain most of their purchasing power, but state employees have filed suit to recover the money.
Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach). Five Ferguson bills were signed into law, including those increasing the penalties for sexual battery and another requiring stricter controls over ketamine, a veterinary tranquilizer now gaining popularity with drug users.
At the request of Carl Karcher Enterprises in Anaheim, Ferguson also wrote a law requiring air quality districts to publish their regulations and potential fines. Company officials had complained that they were unable to get this information for their restaurants, some of which were fined last year for emissions from their char-broilers.
Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Garden Grove). Umberg, the only Democrat in the delegation who lives in Orange County, suffered the greatest number of vetoes--four. He had five bills signed into law.
The most important bill vetoed was one that aimed to end the political deadlock on the Board of Supervisors over building a new county jail in Gypsum Canyon--a site since abandoned as untenable. Wilson also vetoed an Umberg bill that would have created a statewide toll-free hot line for the Asian community to report gang activity, a measure modeled after a program used by the Garden Grove police.
Umberg bills that made it past the governor increased penalties for hate crimes, such as cross burning, and for prisoners who escape from arresting officers.
Johnson. The two Johnson bills signed into law were obscure. One requires full disclosure of licensing information for all loans to purchase real property; the other delays the date for changing notary public statements.
Lewis. One of his successful bills allows the Orange County juvenile court to hold its sessions outside of chambers in Santa Ana. Next year, Lewis vowed to be "speaking up more" and start carrying more bills.
Lewis said he didn't do much with legislation while in the Assembly because he felt anything of substance that he proposed would immediately be torpedoed by Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) and the Democratic leadership. Not so in the more tolerant Senate, he added.
Legislative Score Card How Orange County lawmakers fared this year. ASSEMBLY
Bills Bills Percent Bills Percent Introduced Passed Passed Signed Signed Doris Allen (R-Cypress) 29 7 24% 7 100% Gil Ferguson 29 5 17% 5 100% (R-Newport Beach) Robert C. Frazee 27 14 52% 14 100% (R-Carlsbad) Nolan Frizzelle 20 6 30% 6 100% (R-Fountain Valley) Ross Johnson (R-La Habra) 9 2 22% 2 100% Tom Mays 26 9 35% 8 89% (R-Huntington Beach) Tom Umberg (D-Garden Grove) 19 9 47% 5 56% SENATE Marian Bergeson 51 28 55% 25 89% (R-Newport Beach) Cecil N. Green (D-Norwalk) 40 21 53% 17 81% Frank Hill (R-Whittier) 33 15 45% 13 87% John R. Lewis (R-Orange) 2 2 100% 2 100% Edward R. Royce (R-Anaheim) 44 11 25% 10 91% Total: 329 129 39% 114 88%
Bills Vetoed Doris Allen (R-Cypress) 0 Gil Ferguson 0 (R-Newport Beach) Robert C. Frazee 0 (R-Carlsbad) Nolan Frizzelle 0 (R-Fountain Valley) Ross Johnson (R-La Habra) 0 Tom Mays 1 (R-Huntington Beach) Tom Umberg (D-Garden Grove) 4 SENATE Marian Bergeson 3 (R-Newport Beach) Cecil N. Green (D-Norwalk) 4 Frank Hill (R-Whittier) 2 John R. Lewis (R-Orange) 0 Edward R. Royce (R-Anaheim) 1 Total: 15
Source: Offices of each lawmaker