Gov. signs bill easing office pool penalties
Three years after Margaret Hamblin was busted for running a $50 betting pool on football at the Elks Lodge, the 76-year-old grandmother believes she got some justice Thursday when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law reducing the penalty for participating in such office betting contests.
The betting pool measure was one of 128 bills the governor signed Thursday as he cleared his desk of legislation that had been delayed as lawmakers grappled with the state’s budget problems.
Schwarzenegger also vetoed nine bills.
Hamblin was working as a bartender at the Wildomar Elks Lodge in Riverside County when she was cited for organizing a betting pool on football in which 10 people put in $5 each.
“The old law was so archaic it was ridiculous. You could get in trouble if someone puts a quarter in a pool,” said Hamblin, who was fined $130 and had her fingerprints and mug shot taken after she was cited for running a betting pool.
Hamblin later had the incident expunged from her record.
The new law changes the penalty for participation in a non-commercial or an office “sports betting pool” from a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $1,000, to an infraction, punishable by a fine not to exceed $250.
Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore) introduced AB 58 in response to the case involving Hamblin and another woman.
“Vital law enforcement resources are expended to investigate, charge and prosecute these two women for participating in an activity that is as common as speeding,” Jeffries said.
Schwarzenegger also signed a measure in response to an accident in which a runaway truck killed two people and injured 12 in La Canada Flintridge.
AB 1361 bans commercial vehicles with three or more axles, or weighing more than 9,000 pounds, from California Route 2 between La Canada Flintridge and County Route N2 in Los Angeles County, covering 55 miles of the 66-mile route.
The bill also allows a fine of at least $1,000 for drivers caught with rigs over the weight limit.
Days after the April 1 accident that killed a father and his 12-year-old daughter, Caltrans imposed a temporary moratorium on commercial trucks using the steep roadway, but that was set to expire Thursday.
Instead, with the governor’s signature, Caltrans workers were out Thursday replacing temporary signs with permanent ones that detail the prohibition, said Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge), who wrote the bill.
“There was never a reason for big rigs to use this narrow, steep road that ended in our quiet town,” Portantino said.
Another bill signed Thursday addresses hate crime.
AB 412 makes it a misdemeanor to hang a noose, “knowing it to be a symbol representing a threat to life,” in order to terrorize a person who owns, occupies, attends school at or is employed at the property where the noose is hung.
Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter (D-Rialto) introduced the measure after a series of incidents in which nooses were found on college campuses, including Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Cal State Fullerton.
“The signing of this bill into law is a sign that our state is prepared to confront a visual symbol of America’s racist and violent history,” Carter said.
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Turning bills into laws
Among the 128 bills signed into law Thursday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were these:
Good Samaritans: Expands liability protections for Good Samaritans who provide assistance at an emergency. AB 83 by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Sen. John Benoit (R-Palm Desert).
Elders: Increases the maximum fines for specified elder abuse offenses upon a second or subsequent conviction from $6,000 to $10,000. SB 18 is by Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach).
Loans: Provides $8 million for loans and grants to independent gas station owners who are required by the state to install expensive clean-air systems at their pumps. AB 96 is by Assemblyman Ira Ruskin (D-Redwood City).
Dredging: Bans motorized suction dredge mining, a controversial gold mining technique, until the state Department of Fish and Game finishes a court-ordered overhaul of regulations to protect fish and prevent pollution of streams. SB 670 is by Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa).
Trials: Provides that a sexually violent offender’s refusal to participate in treatment may be considered evidence in a jury trial to show that his or her condition has not changed. SB 669 is by Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta).
Cars: Requires insurers to notify consumers that they have a right to obtain their own, independent auto body repair estimate when trying to repair a damaged automobile. AB 1179 is by Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento)
-- Patrick McGreevy