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Posted on Tue, Oct. 03, 2006
Gay rights activists ease domestic partners' taxes
GOVERNOR APPROVES 910 MEASURES, BUT TURNS DOWN 262
By Steve Geissinger
MediaNews Sacramento Bureau
SACRAMENTO - On the final day to consider legislation, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a measure allowing domestic partners to file joint state tax returns but vetoed a bill extending the time a mother can legally surrender her baby.
The governor over the weekend also signed measures relaxing control over siting of cell phone towers, banning the new and deadly teenager practice of ``trunking,'' reducing the lead content in pipes, extending notice to 60 days for evicted tenants and allowing power companies to donate electricity to charities.
Altogether, Schwarzenegger approved 910 measures and rejected 262 by the end of the day Saturday. The veto rate of 22 percent of the legislation sent to him was slightly lower than that of his first two years. Most of the bills were written by majority Democrats, and many will take effect Jan. 1.
With the signing of her SB 1827 on domestic partners' taxes, Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, declared a victory for gay rights activists and a ``historic day for equality.''
Randy Thomasson of the Campaign for Children and Families complained there is now ``no difference in California law between marriage rights for a husband and wife and marriage rights for homosexuals.''
The measure allows registered domestic partners to file state income taxes jointly and have their earned income treated as community property for state tax purposes.
The governor, however, vetoed AB 1873 by Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, which would have allowed mothers of unwanted babies up to 30 days -- rather than the current 72 hours -- to surrender their newborns to designated sites without fear of prosecution.
The bill ``would have saved babies' lives,'' Torrico said, vowing to reintroduce the bill next year.
In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said the bill could have put ``newborns in greater risk by keeping them in an unsafe environment without proper care and supervision.''
The governor also flushed a bill requiring waterless urinals down the veto pipe.
AB 2496, by Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, would have led to use of a new military favorite that's reminiscent of portable toilets -- waterless, no-flush urinals in public buildings.
The measure, co-written by Democratic Assembly members Loni Hancock of El Cerrito and Gene Mullin of San Mateo, also would have taken steps toward use of even lower-flush home and public toilets.
But Schwarzenegger said in his veto message that ``a number of questions have arisen regarding the toilets required by this bill.''
Among the other bills signed into law by the governor:
• AB 1850, which bans passengers from riding in the trunk of a moving car and imposes fines beginning at $370.
The practice -- known as ``trunking'' -- has become common, in part because teenage drivers cannot carry passengers under age 20 during their first year of driving. Trunking led to two deaths when a car crashed and threw the victims onto a highway, where they were run over.
• SB 1627, which relaxes local-government control over cell phone towers.
Cell phone companies said the measure streamlines future siting of the transmission towers needed to serve growing usage of cell phones, without removing much local control.
But cities and counties -- including Santa Cruz and Marin -- opposed the measure because the local governments said they would lose much of their regulation over siting, terms, expansion and removal of what many view as unsightly cellular communications towers.
Vetoed measures included legislation that would have granted journalists broad access to interview inmates in the state's troubled prison system, let illegal immigrants obtain financial aid for college and allowed farmers to grow industrial hemp.
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