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San Francisco Chronicle
Governor -- please sign here
Friday, September 16, 2005
GOV. ARNOLD Schwarzenegger kept his promise to promote healthier eating in schools by signing three bills Thursday. He said the measures amounted to "the most progressive school nutrition reforms in the nation."
His leadership clearly helped advance SB965, which would ban the sale of sugar-filled sodas in high schools, through the Legislature. The ban had previously applied only to grades K-8. His signature on the bill, authored by Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Whittier, ends years of fierce battle. Shamefully, self-interested opposition to such restrictions came not only from the soft-drink industry, but also many school administrators who had struck exclusive deals with Pepsi and Coca-Cola.
Schwarzenegger also signed Escutia's SB12 to establish much-needed nutrition standards for foods sold at schools and SB281 by Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-San Luis Obispo, to promote the use of more fresh fruits and vegetables in school-meal programs.
Regrettably, the governor took the easy political route in recently announcing his intent to veto two bills that could have made a big difference in the lives of many Californians: AB849, to legalize same-sex marriage and SB60, to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who authored AB849, noted that Schwarzenegger's stated objection to AB849 is his belief that it defies the voter-approved Proposition 22, which limits the definition of marriage to a man and a woman. With Prop. 22 being fought in court -- and the most recent ruling, by a San Francisco judge, that it was unconstitutional -- Leno suggested that Schwarzenegger should allow AB849 to become law without his signature.
"He knows (AB849) would immediately draw a legal challenge," Leno said. "If he thinks it belongs in the court, this option will get it there."
Our preference, though, would be for Schwarzenegger to take a long look at AB849 -- and the matters of equity it addresses -- and sign it.
Schwarzenegger's anticipated veto of the driver's-license bill is especially disturbing because its author, Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, made a major concession to accommodate one of the governor's key demands -- amending the bill to stipulate that undocumented workers would be issued a license with a distinct and readily identifiable design.
Here are some of the other bills on Schwarzenegger's desk that merit his signature:
-- AB772 by Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, D-Alameda, would create a program (modeled after several successful ones at the county level, including San Francisco and Santa Clara County) to extend health care to most low-income California children.
-- SB600 by Sens. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, and Don Perata, D-Oakland, to establish a statewide "biomonitoring" program to track the presence of lead, mercury, pesticides and other chemical contaminants in the human body.
-- AB698 by Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Riverside, and SB239 by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, are virtually identical bills to restore media access to prison inmates. Reporters would again be allowed to schedule interviews with inmates and to bring pens, notebooks and broadcast equipment with them.
-- AB22 by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-San Jose, in concert with San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, would crack down on the growing crime of human trafficking with a comprehensive package of tough penalties for culprits and social services for victims -- with provisions for asset forfeiture and restitution.
-- SB37 by Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, would establish a list of banned supplements for high-school sports and prohibit the manufacturers of performance-enhancing drugs from sponsoring school events.
-- AB1179 by Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would restrict the sale and rental of ultra-violent video games to minors.
-- SB576 (Ortiz) would require health insurers to provide coverage for smoking cessation, a mandate that would not only advance public health, but should benefit businesses through increases in productivity and lower medical costs.
Let the governor know your views on these bills. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can send postal mail to him at the State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814.
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Schwarzenegger aides to meet with gay leaders
Same-sex marriage bill isn't on agenda, spokeswoman says
- Wyatt Buchanan, SF Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, September 16, 2005
Top aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have agreed to meet with leaders of gay and lesbian rights groups next Wednesday, two days before the same-sex marriage bill the Legislature passed this month is due to arrive on his desk.
The 90-minute meeting is not a sign that Schwarzenegger is considering changing his mind about vetoing the bill, said Margita Thompson, his spokeswoman.
In fact, the marriage bill will not be a topic of conversation between gay leaders and the governor's acting chief of staff and other top aides, she said.
"This is an outreach meeting that happens within the normal course of business, and I understand there is heightened media interest," Thompson said. "The legislation is specifically not going to be discussed."
Schwarzenegger has said he believes the issue of same-sex marriage should be decided by the courts, not the Legislature. A separate challenge to Proposition 22, the initiative voters approved in 2002 that limited marriage to heterosexual couples, is making its way to the California Supreme Court.
But gay leaders said they would continue pressing the governor on the issue until he actually vetoes the bill -- and they plan to bring it up during the meeting.
"There are real people he's going to harm with the veto pen," said Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California, the LGBT rights organization behind the marriage bill. "Instead, he could be a shining example of a strong leader and someone who is going to stand for equality."
If the governor believes the issue should be left to the courts, Kors said, he should sign the bill and let it face an inevitable court challenge.
Kors' organization has been holding town hall meetings across California on the issue and started a campaign Monday highlighting different segments of the population that would be affected by the bill. More than 20,000 people have signed an online petition asking the governor to approve the bill, and 50,000 have sent e-mails to his office the first two days of the campaign, Kors said.
If the legislation is brought up, Thompson said, "it will be cordially listened to, but it won't have any impact on the decision."
E-mail Wyatt Buchanan at email@example.com.
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