State lawmakers begin final days with memorial service

By Jennifer Kerr Associated Press Writer
Thursday September 13, 2001

SACRAMENTO — The California Legislature, its schedule shaken by the terrorist attacks, opened its three final frantic days Wednesday with a memorial service and a promise to “go on with the business of the people.” 

Lawmakers quickly approved a bill to allow people annoyed by telephone solicitors to put their names on a new state “do-not-call” list. 

The Senate and Assembly had canceled sessions Tuesday because of the attacks, despite facing a Friday deadline to pass hundreds of bills on subjects ranging from redistricting to energy. 

Lawmakers opened Wednesday’s floor sessions with a 30-minute joint memorial service featuring prayers by religious leaders from a dozen diverse faiths and the singing of “America the Beautiful” 

“We will not let these acts of terrorism bring our country to a halt,” said Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys. 

“We will go on with the business of the people. That is what we were elected to do. That is what our democracy calls on us to do,” he said. 

Dr. Irfan Haq of the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims said he wanted to share the grief of the Muslim community. 

“As Muslims we do not condone violence,” he said. “What has happened has happened to members of our human family.” 

“Those who have done it must suffer and are going to suffer,” said Darshan Singh Mundi of the Sikh Temple of West Sacramento. 

“To not become like the enemy we despise, that’s part of the challenge now; to not become consumed by hatred,” said the Rev. Dexter McNamara, director of the Interfaith Service Bureau. 

The Assembly also plans to publish a special publication with letters written by lawmakers expressing their feelings and will put letters from constituents in the state archives and possibly on the Assembly’s Internet site. 

The “do-not-call” list bill was approved by a 59-12 vote of the Assembly and returned to the Senate for a final vote on amendments. Gov. Gray Davis has said he will sign it. 

The attorney general would create the new list by January 2003 and residential and cellphone customers could pay $1 to be put on it for three years. Telephone solicitors would be required to buy copies of the list; those who called people on it could face fines of $500 for the first violation and $1,000 for subsequent ones. 

Companies would be allowed to call people on the list if they had an “established business relationship” with them. 

“This is an invasion of people’s homes,” said a supporter, Assemblyman John Campbell, R-Irvine. 

An opponent, Minority Leader David Cox, R-Fair Oaks, said people can put themselves on existing industry-run lists and can just say “no, I’m not interested” when solicitors call. 

Friday is the scheduled end of the 2001 session. However, it can be extended with a vote of both houses. The special session called by Gov. Gray Davis last winter to consider energy measures does not have to end Friday. 

Other issues before lawmakers include a rescue plan for Southern California Edison, redrawing the Assembly, Senate and congressional districts to reflect the census population changes, restoration of community-college budget cuts, school bonds and a $200 million program to help the lowest-performing schools.