Gov. signs series of local bills

Station fire victims were among the winners in the Sacramento legislative season that ended last week.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill allowing those whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the fire or subsequent mudslides to write down the losses from their 2009 property taxes. The measure was one of 12 sponsored by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and signed by the governor at the end of September.

Another Portantino bill funds a state umbilical cord blood cell bank, giving the University of California oversight of a program to collect and then distribute cord blood stem cells to those in need.

“I'm ecstatic he signed that bill,” Portantino said, adding that creating and funding the cord blood bank has been a priority since he was elected four years ago.

“That is going to save lives,” he said.

The legislation was inspired by Jordan Serwin, a one-time Portantino neighbor in La Cañada whose family was forced to turn to private sources for cord blood cells to stave off Serwin’s childhood leukemia.

The governor also vetoed several Portantino bills, using harsh words to criticize a measure designed to increase oversight of post-secondary vocational schools. The bill ran into trouble over a couple of details, including the shifting of several state Department of Consumer Affairs jobs to Sacramento.

“This is both an inappropriate and unacceptable action to micro-manage and burden the implementation of regulatory policy,” Schwarzenegger wrote in his veto message. “If the author or interest groups wish to make staffing decisions for the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, I suggest they look into applying for the position of bureau chief.”

The governor then provided a link to a job application.

Portantino said he believed the governor supported 95% of what was in the bill, but was “sending a message” about the small portion he didn't like. Portantino's 2009 legislation created the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, and he said he may reintroduce a version of the just-rejected bill next year.

Five of the seven bills authored by state Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) also earned the governor’s signature. One allows incarcerated women to participate in child custody hearings via videoconference, and others make it simpler for young people who went through the foster care system to get access to federal funds and resources.

“I thank the governor, my colleagues in the Legislature and all the other concerned parties who worked together on these bills,” Liu said in statement.

Schwarzenegger vetoed two Liu bills, one that would have eased restrictions on acquiring food stamps and another that dealt with placement of foster youth in public schools.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake), who was elected more than halfway into the 2010 legislative term, was the co-signer of four bills that reached the governor’s desk.

Two of those bills passed, including the appropriation of federal stimulus money for teacher jobs and creation of stronger conflict-of-interest disclosure rules for participants in the state teachers pension program.

The governor vetoed a bill Gatto co-signed requiring increased disclosure by big donors to initiative campaigns, and another bill capping the salaries of municipal employees.

In rejecting the measure, the governor said that bill addressed only a small aspect of the pension and salary reforms needed.

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