Go Ahead — Veto Them All!

Thirty-eight days into the new fiscal year without a budget, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger laid down the law with legislators – literally. 

He told the Democratic-majority Legislature that any bill they send to him before a budget is enacted will be vetoed. That goes for any stuff his GOP buddies can get down to him as well. 

Lawmakers need to focus exclusively on resolving the budget impasse, the GOP governor said at a press conference. If they wanted to get the J-O-B done, Schwarzenegger said, they could cobble a spending plan together overnight. 

There’s an old saw: When you point your finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you. 

Asked by reporters if over the weekend he had proposed a temporary, three year 1 cent increase in the sales tax, which raises bout $5 billion, Schwarzenegger danced around the question. 

He and the leaders of the Legislature talk about all kinds of stuff in their closed-door budget meetings.  Pressed for a “yes” or a “no,” he danced and wove some more. 

Whatever he said, a tax increase isn’t real palatable to the governor’s fellow Republicans. A better idea might have been to lower the sales tax and broaden the base, as has been noted in here previously. 

It’s regrettable the governor didn’t institute his no-new-legislation policy on July 1, the day when a budget was supposed to be in place. 

While the Legislature may be focused on passing legislation, the governor certainly has been busy over the past few weeks signing the product lawmakers moved to his desk.  

Since July 1, the GOP governor signed 212 pieces of legislation, 48 of them on August 1, a scant five days before announcing his new death-to-bills policy. Another batch of nine were signed on August 4. He vetoed 16 bills since July 1. 

Culling through this cornucopia of much-needed public policy reform, numerous glittering gems catch the eye. 

Consider AB 2284, which requires market milk to be cooled to 50 degrees Fahrenheit within four hours of milking and to 45 degrees Fahrenheit – or less – within two hours of milking. 

Most distressing, however, is the measure’s apparent weakening of state requirements relating to yogurt. 

Deleted is the requirement that fruits can be added to frozen yogurt after pasteurization and culture, titratable acidity can now climb above .3 percent and federal code references for stabilizers and emulsifiers are axed. Gone too is the milk fat minimum of 2.8 percent and instructions on how to handle frozen yogurt mix. 

The yogurt lobby caught the Capitol press corps napping yet again. 

Californians can also cast a collective sigh of relief: Pneumatic studded tires can be left on vehicles year round – as long as the studs are retracted. 

The author of AB 1971 notes that tire technology now allows such studs to deploy and retract when needed so California needs a new law to let the studly retractable tires to stay on the vehicle all year. 

 No special interest bill this one: Q-Tires, the sponsor of the measure and manufacturer of the “Celsius model” retractable studded tire, claims, with all due modesty, “its innovative tire technology can be used effectively and efficiently year round.”   

The analysis of the measure notes that the studs can be activated and retracted about 50 times before the bladder needs to be refilled with air.  This is approximately the same number of retractions before the bladder of the bill’s author needs to be refilled.   

From the Save-Me-From-Myself file, the governor patted California on the back for being the first state to ban the use of trans fats in restaurant-prepared food, starting in 2010. 

The press release announcing the signing of this measure does not mention that food sold or served in a manufacturer’s original sealed package is exempt from the prohibition. 

And upon examination, a restaurant can still use food containing trans fat if the label says the trans fat per serving is no more than .5 percent. 

By the way, the Food and Drug Administration estimates that banning trans fat will save California between $90,000 and $180,000 in reduced medical expenses. 

To fully appreciate the breadth and majesty of SB 675, it’s best to read the actual language: 

“This bill would repeal the provisions regarding domestic or pet animal trusts and would provide instead that a trust for the care of a domestic or pet animal is for a lawful noncharitable purpose and terminates when no animal is living on the date of the settlor’s death, unless otherwise provided in the trust. The bill would require a court to liberally construe an animal trust to bring it within the bill’s provisions, to presume against an interpretation that would render the disposition a mere request or an attempt to honor the animal, and to carry out the general intent of the trust. 

 “The bill would provide an order of disposition of trust property upon termination of the trust and would provide authority for the court to name a trustee and to transfer trust property, as specified. This bill would permit any person interested in the welfare of the animal or any nonprofit charitable organization that has as its principal activity the care of animals to petition the court regarding the trust, as specified. 

“The bill would provide a process for an accounting of the trust, to be waived if the value of the trust assets does not exceed $40,000, as specified. The bill would permit beneficiaries of the trust, a person designated by the trust, or certain nonprofit charitable organizations, upon reasonable request, to inspect the animal, the premises where the animal is maintained, or the books and records of the trust. 

The author represents San Francisco. It must be the water. 

Perhaps most stunning, just for its sheer frivolousness, is SB 1530 an update of the line of succession if the governor’s office and lieutenant governor’s office become vacant. 

The code section reads a little like those “begat” paragraphs in Genesis. If there isn’t a Lieutenant Governor then the president pro tempore of the Senate takes over. If there isn’t one of him then it’s the Assembly Speaker. After that, Secretary of State. Then Attorney General, treasurer and controller. 

Here’s why the bill was introduced and taxpayers bore the cost of its winding its way through the Legislature to the governor: 

To add Superintendent of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner and chair of the Board of Equalization to the bottom of the list. 

Talk about essential. 

Just veto them all, governor. Veto them all. 


Filed under: Venting



    Comment by Virginia Strom-Martin — 8.08.2008 @ 7:11 am

  2. Dede Alpert’s husband, Mike, often advocated changing to the federal system where there is one bill the size of New York’s phonebook for most major policy areas.

    She countered that the same cheesy stuff would just get shoehorned into the big bills.

    But, you’re right: Some restraint would be welcome — whether that’s initiated by legislators or imposed by veto pen. xoxox

    Comment by admin — 8.11.2008 @ 4:13 pm

  3. Hey, Virginia: The tale of the tape shows you carried 158 bills during your six-year career in Sacto. WTF?

    Comment by Gus Turdlock — 8.15.2008 @ 12:20 pm

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