Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sacramento Bee Editorial: Governor should heavily use his veto authority

Editorial: Brown ought to use his veto pen without mercy

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Gov. Jerry Brown needs to sharpen his veto pen. We hope he mercilessly skewers many of the bills sent to him in the closing hours of the legislative session.

In recent weeks, Brown has declared that not every human problem requires a law. He has noted that the state would survive fine without many of the bills sent to him. He has rejected back-door attempts to raise revenue by unfairly jacking up fines for traffic and other violations.

All that is heartening. The governor should stick to those principles as he picks over the detritus of this year's dreadful legislative session.

The governor's corporate tax package went down to defeat, as did his request that lawmakers extend a $400 million-a-year charge on utility customers. It wasn't even close, as some Democrats joined Republicans in rejecting the measures.

Lawmakers did, however, jam through an extension of a $100 million annual tax break for the movie industry. Given California's precarious financial situation, Brown ought to ax this labor- and Hollywood-backed measure.

Several other labor bills also deserve quick deaths, including Assembly Bill 101, to expand the right of child-care workers to unionize, and Senate Bill 922, to restrict city councils, county supervisors and voters' power to ban "project labor agreements," which require that public agencies use union labor for public works projects. This power ought to remain in local hands.

Despite the many ill-considered measures, important bills affecting children won approval and are worthy of signature:

• SB 161 by Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, would permit volunteers to administer a drug to public school students to quell epileptic seizures.
• SB 946 by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg would require health insurance companies to cover a particular type of therapy for autistic children.
• AB 131, part of the state version of the California Dream Act. Championed by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, a Los Angeles Democrat, the bill would allow high-achieving children of illegal immigrants to compete for financial aid to defray costs of attending California's public colleges and universities.

Also, in the final hours of the legislative session, Speaker John A. Pérez and Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, pushed through SB 292 to speed California Environmental Quality Act review for a new football stadium in Los Angeles. Steinberg expanded AB 900 to include streamlined environmental review for other major projects.

The bills didn't receive the full hearings or detailed analysis. On balance, however, the bills could help the economy, and Brown ought to sign them, with a caveat.

There should be a serious review of the state's landmark environmental law. If an overhaul is warranted – we're not convinced major changes are needed – any tweaks should apply to all projects subject to environmental review, not just those whose developers hire well-connected lobbyists.

Brown might be tempted to give Democrats who control the Legislature the benefit of the doubt and sign the majority of their bills. But as the governor says, not every human problem warrants a law. The state would be better off without the vast majority of the bills that await his review.

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