Public safety, local issues aboundSen. George Runner released a comprehensive list of his 2007 legislative accomplishments that have either been signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger or have been enrolled in his office and await his signature.
Runner said that the Legislature may have fallen short of meeting all of its goals for this year, but that shouldn’t overshadow the important achievements made through his legislation.“I believe my staff and I found success in passing legislation that helps our communities in the High Desert, San Fernando Valley and in Ventura,” Runner said. “This is the first of a two-year session and I have many more good bills that I will fight to pass through the legislative process next year – bills that will continue to make our neighborhoods safe, our small businesses stronger and bring more accountability to our public schools.”
Here is a look at Runner’s 2007 legislation that enhances or supports public safety:
- Funding for Jessica’s Law: Senate Bill 866 provides the necessary funds to carry out a critical component of Proposition 83-Jessica’s Law. It will appropriate more than $12.5 million from the General Fund to the State Department of Mental Health to pay for the increase in evaluations of sexually violent predators who are now held to a stricter legal standard since Proposition 83 went into effect on Jan. 1, 2007.
- Creation of a second grand jury for Los Angeles County: With Senate Bill 796, the District Attorney’s office will be able to handle another 20 to 30 indictments per year, allowing justice to be better served. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office only impanels grand juries for serious crimes, including hard-core gang murder, major fraud, complex narcotic cases, political corruption and those that involve police and other justice officers.
- Adding Palmdale to a pilot project that gives city attorneys more power to evict drug dealers: Sponsored by the City of Palmdale, Senate Bill 706 adds Palmdale to a pilot project that allows city attorneys to initiate partial eviction proceedings against drug offending tenants.
- Keeping LA County criminals behind bars: Senate Bill 959 (jointly authored with Sen. Gloria Romero, D-East Los Angeles) would give the LA County Sheriff the authority to place inmates on mandatory house arrest. While this is a current practice, it is only done with the inmate’s consent. The Sheriff does this to alleviate crowding per a federal court ruling. The problem is most inmates opt to stay in jail because they know they will be released within days instead of serving their full time on house arrest with a monitoring device.
Here’s a look at other Runner legislation that was signed or is waiting to be signed by the governor:
- Ending bloated pensions for California constitutional officers: Senate Bill 221 corrects a loophole in state law that allows the 11 California constitutional officers to receive retirement pension from the Legislative Retirement System based on their salary the last day they are in office. Now, with the enactment of this legislation, officers elected after 2008 will instead have their pension pay based on a 12-month average.
- Supporting our military: Senate Bill 272 gives our military veterans (within two years of separation or retirement) priority for registration at junior colleges and in the California State University system and requests the same from the University of California.
- Expediting Workers’ Comp claims: Senate Bill 906 spells out that medical care providers, such as pharmacies, may contract with third parties to handle administrative-related paperwork to expedite reimbursement for workers’ compensation claims. While this is common practice, it is not articulated in the law. It is important to make sure that workers’ compensation is not only affordable, but efficient, and that workers’ compensation patients receive medical care immediately.
- Bringing clarity to hospital charity care programs: Senate Bill 350 clarifies the language in a hospital charity care bill that passed last year to help hospitals and patients (who qualify for charity care programs) to better understand payment conditions and obligations. Furthermore, it protects the privacy rights of patients (who use the charity care application) by prohibiting hospitals from using personal information for debt collection.
- Technical changes to landmark food safety bill: Senate Bill 744 clarifies technical details of a landmark food safety bill Runner authored last year. Known as SB 144, last year’s legislation streamlines previous food safety laws that had become outdated and fragmented. It makes food safety laws more user-friendly for businesses, while ensuring a high level of protection for consumers. This year’s SB 744 brings more clarity to SB 144 rules, such as how placemats and silverware can be set, and it eliminates duplicative provisions.