Governor signs bills including unemployment benefits boost

By Alexa Haussler Associated Press Writer
Tuesday October 02, 2001

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gray Davis signed a flurry of bills Monday including a measure boosting unemployment benefits, four energy-related measures and an effort to prevent meningitis outbreaks. 

Davis has until Oct. 14 — or two weeks — to sign about 1,000 bills sent to him last month in the final days of the legislative session that cover topics from energy to junk food in schools. 

On Monday, he approved 50 bills, including one by Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-San Fernando, that would increase the state’s unemployment benefits beginning next year. 

Davis also announced the state will launch a public education campaign to reach out to airline industry workers laid off after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Those workers are eligible for speeded-up benefits under an executive order Davis signed after the attacks. 

Also Monday, Davis signed legislation including the following: 

— Two bills by Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, to discourage selling tobacco to minors. 

One attempts to keep potent, candy-flavored cigarettes known as bidis or beedies out of the hands of minors. The measure would allow the sale of bidis only in bars and other businesses that don’t allow minors to enter. 

The other allows the Department of Health Services to conduct sting inspections of retailers where public complaints or previous violations of tobacco sales to minors have occurred. 

— Two bills to increase awareness of meningitis. One, by Sen. Rico Oller, R-San Andreas, requires the state Department of Health Services to develop and carry out a meningitis prevention plan by June 30, 2002. 

The other, by Assembly Republican leader Dave Cox of Fair oaks, requires the health department to provide vaccine information to school districts, colleges and universities to give to students. 

A recent outbreak of meningitis caused several student deaths in Northern California. 

— Four bills from the special session stemming from the statewide energy crisis. 

The bills include a measure to expand a grant program promoting biomass energy; a tax break on interest on loans financed through public utility districts to purchase energy efficient products; matching grants for local governments to buy battery backup systems for traffic signals; and a bill to protect small business and homeowners from unreasonable rate increases. 

— A bill by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, banning a practice called “key money,” in which landlords charge large sums of cash to pay for attorney fees for preparing rental agreements as a condition of signing or renewing leases. 

The practice is prevalent in downtown Los Angeles’ fashion district and has cost millions of dollars for merchants, many of whom are Korean immigrants, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office. 

— A bill by Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh, D-Cudahy, barring the use of any state, county, city, or court seal on campaign materials or mass mailings with the intent to deceive voters. 

The legislation stems from a South Gate case in which a campaign mailer falsely depicted a court petition disqualifying a candidate for city council. 

Meanwhile, Davis vetoed a measure that would have permitted adult students in the state’s welfare-to-work program to apply up to six hours of study time toward their work requirement. 

In a veto message, Davis wrote that he opposed the legislation by Sen. Kevin Murray, D-Los Angeles, because it reduces the work requirements for students receiving the aid.