Democratic lawmakers will revisit bills vetoed by Schwarzenegger
After years of frustration at having their ideas vetoed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Democratic state lawmakers said Friday that they are reviving scores of old bills in hopes of having better luck with incoming Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat.
The proposals they plan to revisit would give illegal immigrants access to financial aid at colleges, prohibit the practice of “spiking” in public pensions, require utilities to provide more solar and wind power, ban cellphones from state prisons and require college booster groups to disclose their finances.
“We’re going back to look at every bill vetoed in the last eight years,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto). “I do think with a change it makes sense to look at bills this governor wasn’t inclined to sign and the new governor might.”
Next week Simitian plans to reintroduce, among others, a measure that would prohibit last-minute bonuses and raises from resulting in sharp increases in state workers’ pensions, and a requirement that 33% of energy produced by utilities by the year 2020 come from renewable sources.
Schwarzenegger said he was open to both ideas but disliked the way the bills, or companion measures, were written. He issued an executive order to boost renewable energy production without putting the bill’s requirements into law, which some environmentalists said fell short.
Brown embraced the 33% goal for solar, wind and other renewable resources in his gubernatorial campaign. He also supported the California Dream Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants access to private financial aid administered by colleges.
“I would have signed that bill,” Brown said in October.
Schwarzenegger vetoed similar aid bills three times in the last five years. In his last veto message, Schwarzenegger cited the state’s fiscal problems, saying: “It would not be practical to adopt a new policy that could limit the financial aid available to students that are in California legally, in order to provide that benefit to those students who are not.”
Brown is not taking positions on many of the bills that lawmakers expect to reintroduce. He is focused on the state budget, said his spokesman, Sterling Clifford.
State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) plans to revive proposed new penalties for smuggling cellphones into prisons. Schwarzenegger vetoed that legislation two months ago, saying it wasn’t tough enough.
The Times reported Friday that cellphone smuggling is rampant in state prisons and that even convicted mass murderer Charles Manson was making calls and sending text messages to people in other states.
“I believe our new governor has a far greater understanding of this issue,” Padilla said Friday, noting that Brown is the attorney general. “He gets it.”
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D- San Francisco) said he would revive a bill to require prison officials, when deciding where to place inmates, to consider “sexual orientation and gender nonconformance.”
Schwarzenegger vetoed the measure, saying prison officials already consider those factors. Ammiano said existing guidelines do not go far enough.
“We think it will get a better shot” with Brown, he said. “My feeling is he has a sensitivity to the issue.”