Schwarzenegger signs bills to aid search for missing children


Measures to improve the search for missing children, protect intoxicated minors who call 911 for help and expand betting on horseracing in California are among dozens of bills signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, he announced Friday.

With less than a week left to act on 765 pieces of legislation, the governor also vetoed 43 bills, including measures that would exempt many state workers from furloughs, regulate pet insurance and outlaw dormancy fees on gift cards.

A requirement that minors wear helmets while skiing and snowboarding will not become law even though Schwarzenegger signed it to show his support. SB 880 by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) cannot take effect without a companion measure, which the governor vetoed, requiring ski resorts to provide the public with safety plans and reports of fatalities.

Schwarzenegger said the helmet bill would “help prevent avoidable injuries to children” but added that AB 1652, the linked measure, “may place an unnecessary burden on resorts, without assurance of a significant reduction in ski and snowboard-related injuries and fatalities.”

The package of missing-person bills signed by Schwarzenegger was championed by Moe Dubois, the father of 14-year-old Amber Dubois, one of two teenagers killed in San Diego County by convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III.

AB 33 will allow law enforcement agencies to obtain and better use a list of registered sex offenders when a child is reported abducted by a stranger. It also improves police training in missing-persons cases.

The measure was written by Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), who also authored AB 34, a related bill signed by the governor that requires the state Violent Crime Information Center to share information on cases with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

Schwarzenegger also signed AB 1999, which gives immunity from prosecution to people younger than 21 for drinking alcohol in cases in which they call 911 to report an alcohol-related medical emergency.

The governor also approved a bill to boost California’s distressed horseracing industry by allowing people to bet on horses to lose beginning in 2012. The measure, SB 1072 by Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), also seeks to lure the nation’s top horses by allowing a larger share of bets to be used for purses.

Schwarzenegger also signed a bill to help finance operation of a new private hospital to replace the closed Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital. AB 2599 by Assemblywoman Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) requires that the hospital be reimbursed from the Medi-Cal health insurance program for the poor at a higher rate than other institutions are guaranteed.

In all, the governor said he has signed 76 bills into law.

The governor’s vetoes hit two bills that would have exempted many state workers from unpaid furloughs that he has used to trim the budget.

AB 1765 by Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana) would have exempted workers from the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the Employment Development Department from being furloughed during high unemployment.

AB 2008 by Assemblyman Juan Arambula (I-Fresno) would have exempted employees of the Franchise Tax Board and the Board of Equalization, who help collect tax revenue that helps in a state budget crisis.

On both bills, Schwarzenegger wrote in his veto message that “while there may be a need to exempt specific employees from furlough, that exemption should be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the exigencies of the fiscal crisis.”

And the bill regulating pet insurance, AB 2411, is not necessary because the state Department of Insurance already has authority to oversee the industry, Schwarzenegger wrote in his veto message.

He also rejected the measure barring dormancy fees on gift cards, writing in his veto message that SB 885 by Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) “can place an additional burden on small businesses that offer gift certificates and cards.”