Capitol Matters

From LegiTech News Service

A roundup of important bills, regulatory news, upcoming legislative issues and appointments of local executives.

Preview: Hoping to Make Waves

The Legislature is in recess until Dec. 2, but more than a few lawyers and lobbyists are already working overtime on a proposal by Sen. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) to scrap the state's water code and replace it with new regulations that would ease the sale and transfer of water between willing sellers and buyers. Currently, about 85% of the state water supply is controlled by irrigation districts.

Water transfers have traditionally been local affairs, often involving neighboring irrigation districts and even informal agreements among local farmers. Costa's proposal, embodied in a model bill intended for the next legislative session, seeks to establish a type of free-market water bazaar that would let communities, industries and agricultural interests shop throughout the state for reliable water sources. That would, the argument goes, offset hardships caused by drought and reduce the burden on overtaxed local water systems. It also could free up as much as 20% of the water in the irrigation districts.

The Costa proposal comes at the behest of several business interests, including the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Manufacturers Assn. Rewriting water transfer laws has some support among environmental groups that like the idea of being able to buy water for environmental projects--although they worry about the potential hazards of a free-market style system.


* Jeffrey P. Bennett of Corona has been appointed to the Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency. Bennett, 42, is a Corona City Council member and president of Nature's Recipe Pet Foods. No salary. No Senate confirmation required.

* Darlene F. Fujimoto of Laguna Niguel has been reappointed by the governor to the California State Board of Pharmacy. Fujimoto, 42, is the director of clinical programs and a consultant for Clinical Care Pharmacies Inc. of Pasadena. No salary. No Senate confirmation required.

* Robert G. Orsi of Covina has been appointed to the Child Development Program Advisory Committee. Orsi, 49, is chief executive of Bright Beginnings Preschools in Fontana. No salary. No Senate confirmation required.

These appointments were made in October by the governor.

Hot Bills

Gov. Pete Wilson has in the final days of the 1995-96 California legislative session signed into law hundreds of bills, many of which change the rules for local businesses. Here's a quick look at some of the more important new legislation:

* Smoking Ban (AB 3037)

Extends by three years the deadline for bars, clubs and gambling venues to comply with the state ban on smoking in the workplace. The new deadline is Jan. 1, 2000. Supporters, including the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union and Tavern Owners United for Fairness, argued that the ban would cost members of their organizations dearly in lost business and that more work needed to be done to develop standards for acceptable levels of tobacco smoke in their venues. The bill, introduced by Sal Cannella (D-Ceres) takes effect Jan. 1.

* Recycling Exemption (SB 1155)

Exempts food and cosmetics companies from laws requiring recycled plastics in product containers. Supporters, including Hershey Foods, Nestle USA Inc. and Joseph E. Seagram & Sons Inc., argued that the laws were a costly burden and did not significantly reduce waste. Opponents, including the city of Los Angeles, Sierra Club and Browning-Ferris Industries, countered that the exemption would add to the volume of waste and punish businesses that have already retooled their manufacturing processes to comply. The bill, introduced by Ken Maddy (R-Fresno), takes effect Jan. 1.

* Alternative Fuel-Use Perks (AB 2282)

Would have given cars powered by natural gas or electricity unlimited access to carpool lanes. Opponents, including the California Department of Transportation and the California Highway Patrol, successfully argued that the lanes were designed to encourage carpooling as a way to cut smog emissions and that allowing alternative-fuel cars could affect the time-saving benefits that attract carpoolers. Supporters, including the General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Southern California Edison, had argued that market-based incentives, such as unrestricted access to carpool lanes, are necessary to promote interest and investment in alternative-fuel cars. The bill, introduced by Wally Knox (D-Los Angeles), was vetoed.

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