Tax Dollars At Work

(Editor’s Note: Tuesday, September 8 is the first day of the last week of the 2009 legislative session. For the next 96 hours, hundreds of bills re hurriedly passed by lawmakers, usually with little debate, while lobbyists clog the halls outside of the Assembly and Senate chambers. To get a sense of the tumult and chaos of the final week, California’s Capitol spent 30 minutes in the 40-member state Senate. Here is what happened:)


2:38 PM

 Sen. Gloria Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat, is presiding. She asks the clerk to read File Item 118, SB 744 by Sen. Tony Strickland, a Thousand Oaks Republican.

This and the other Senate bills considered until 3:08 PM are on “concurrence.” The Senate votes to agree with amendments made to the measure by the Assembly and, if the amendments are concurred in, the bill goes to the governor.

According to the Senate Floor Analysis, Strickland’s bill “revises licensing and certification requirements for clinical laboratories by recognizing accreditation of clinical laboratories by private, nonprofit organizations (PNOs), as specified, revises license fees according to the number of tests performed and makes other administrative changes.” The Assembly amendments reduce reporting requirements by the private, nonprofit organizations. The measure is sent to the governor on a 35 to 0 vote without debate.

Next up, SB 757 by Sen. Fran Pavley, an Agoura Hills Democrat.

The bill prohibits a person from manufacturing, selling or installing a wheel weight that contains more than 0.1 percent lead and subjects violators to civil or administrative penalties of not more than $2,500 each day per violation.

Wheel weights are clipped to the rims of automobiles to balance tires. They can loosen and fall off and end up in waterways. The weights, the analysis notes, are “susceptible to atmospheric corrosion.”

Pavley says that lead is a major source of pollution in drinking water. And, not only does her bill “protect the environment” it creates a “level playing field for American companies” that already make lead-free wheel weights.  Sent to the governor on a 22 to 13 vote.

The next item, SB 765, is on a “special consent.”

(Editor’s Note: Special Consent is a group of bills so non-controversial they can be bundled together and passed with one vote.)

Now comes SB 766 by Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, a Chino Democrat, would allow uncommitted surplus money in the Horse Racing Market Promotion Fund or the Horseracing Workers Compensation Fund to be reallocated to any other horseracing fund or account. Sent to the governor on a 35 to 0 vote.  

A measure by the Committee on Veteran Affairs, SB 809, provides that veterans who are itinerant vendors” would be considered consumers rather than retailers of the tangible personal property they sell except for alcoholic beverages or anything sold for $100 or more. That exemption form paying the sales tax would last until January 1, 2012. Unanimously sent to the governor without debate.

Next up, SCR 53, a resolution calling on the Legislature to “utilize its vested powers” to keep New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. in California. The joint venture between Toyota and General Motors is in the district of Sen. Ellen Corbett, a San Leandro Democrat, who carried the resolution, which does not carry the weight of law.

Toyota has already said it is moving the operation to Texas. A roll call vote was requested which ended up with 36 senators in favor and Sen. Roy Ashburn, a Bakersfield Republican, opposed.

File Item 126 is referred to the Rules Committee.

File Item 127 is a Humane Society supported measure by Sen. Dean Florez, a Shafter Democrat, to make the tail docking of cattle a misdemeanor unless it is performed following the rules contained in the Veterinary Medical Practices Act.  The purpose of SB 135 is to reduce the incidence of tail docking which is the removal of the solid portion of an animal’s tail. Usually this is accomplished by rubber band constriction which causes the band tail to fall off after three to seven weeks.

Tail docking, the analysis says, is “alleged” to improve the comfort of milking personnel, create cleaner cow utters and heighten milk quality. It’s also “alleged” to prevent the spread of leptospirosis to cow milkers. The bacterial disease is spread by urine from infected animals via contact with skin abrasions of wounds or mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth. In support of the bill, Florez cites a University of California study finds no improvement to dairy worker safety or comfort from tail docking. Udders also are no cleaner, the study concludes. Sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on a 25 to 12 vote.

File Item 128, SB 218, requires actions taken by auxiliary organizations created by the University of California, the California State University and the California Community Colleges be subject to the California Public Records Act. The bill’s author, Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, recounts instances of questionable actions by several of these groups. To the governor: 32 to 1.

2:50 PM

Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta can be seen messaging on his Blackberry.

Off to the governor goes SB 248 by Sen. Jenny Oropeza, a Long Beach Democrat, which school districts, which requires community colleges, and campuses of the California State University to post the list of rights afforded to pupils under Title IX on the district or campus website.

Assembly amendments removed all state costs.

2:52 PM

Sen. Abel Maldonado, a San Luis Obispo Republican, is on his Blackberry. So is Sen. Lois Wolk, a Davis Democrat.

Sen. Denise Ducheny, a San Diego Democrat, presents a bill allowing local governments to create regional entities to improve the quality of storm water run-off. The measure, SB 310, heads to Schwarzenegger on a 24-13 vote.

2:58 PM

Sen. Chris Kehoe, a San Diego Democrat is reading a New York Times article on the computer on her desk. Sen. Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat, is on his Blackberry. Maldonado is still texting.

The Department of Insurance would be required to examine the pass rate of first time applicants for insurance agent licenses. Those persons scoring less than 65 percent would then be sorted by “ethnicity/race, gender, and level of education” to make sure there was “no unintended bias,” says Sen. Ron Calderon, a Montebello Democrat and author of the bill. Sent to the governor.

3:00 PM

Kehoe is done reading the New York Times article. Wolk pushes away her Blackberry then gets back on it.

A bill by Kehoe, SB 412, relating to renewable energy, subsidies is sent to the GOP governor unanimously followed by SB 556, a measure by the Committee on Judiciary to include bail among the unpaid court-ordered fines and penalties that the court may refer to the Franchise Tax Board for collection after 90 days of delinquency.

California would proclaim May 22 Harvey Milk Day, honoring the slain gay rights activist under SB 572. Leno, the bill’s author, says there would be “no cost to the state whatsoever.”

SB 651 would require an annual dropout report be presented to the Legislature. It is sent to the governor on a 37 to 1 vote.

3:08 PM

Calderon, Sen. Alex Padilla, a Los Angeles Democrat, and Strickland are all on their Blackberries.

(Editor’s Note, September 9: Apparently, these measures are being held at the Senate desk because the GOP governor is threatening to veto anything that comes to him that isn’t what he thinks is important. The bills will be sent to him by midnight September 11, however.)







    As soon as I am out of this box I’m runnin 5 million copies of this beauty for my ballot measure on a part time legislature. If you can do just 1 more beauty like this before this Friday it will seal the deal.

    Comment by Howard Jarvis — 9.08.2009 @ 7:03 pm

  2. This is great! It makes for great reading.

    I have been a staffer during end of session, and it is hilarious to see this side of it, and your take on it. Normally, as a staffer, you aren’t paying attention to the things you are noting, but your attention is elsewhere.

    This is hilarious. I am going to make all my Government 1 students read this.

    Comment by Natasha Wunderlich — 9.08.2009 @ 8:43 pm

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