Saturday, 04 February 2023

Senate wrapup: Wiggins completes first year in Senate

This is the second of two articles on Lake County's legislators reporting on their year in the legislature.


LAKE COUNTY – State Sen. Patricia Wiggins has had a busy freshman year in the Senate. {sidebar id=35}


Like her North Coast colleague in the Assembly, Patty Berg (D-Eureka), Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) had nine of her bills signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger by the October deadline.


David Miller, Wiggins' spokesman, said the 120-member Legislature sent 964 bills to Schwarzenegger’s desk in 2007, with Schwarzenegger signing 750 and vetoing 214.


Wiggins authored a total of 34 bills. Of those, 14 were approved by the Legislature and sent to the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, according to Wiggins' spokesman, David Miller.


Of those 14 bills, Schwarzenegger signed nine and vetoed five, Miller reported.


This year comprised the first half of the two-year, 2007-08 Legislative Session, Miller reported. He said Wiggins has 13 other bills that she introduced in 2007 that are still alive going into 2008 while, at the same time, discussing potential bills with her staff for the 2008 legislative year.


During this session, Wiggins – a member of the Senate's Veterans Affairs Committee – called for an audit of the Yountville Veterans Home and held a hearing on the matter Aug. 29.


She also worked on agricultural issues, with four ag-related bills – including Lake County's pear shed bill and legislation to get more funding for state efforts to fight the light brown apple moth – receiving the governor's signature.


Legislative highlights for 2007


Among her bills signed this year by the governor, Wiggins reported that she is most proud of her environmental and ag-related legislation, including SB 319, which extended a labor law exemption allowing Lake County minors to work longer hours during pear harvest.


“Given the support of my colleagues, and the governor, on my bill, SB 319, I am optimistic that we will be able to pass new legislation, some time in the near future, to eliminate the sunset date altogether, and make this very productive provision of law permanent,” Wiggins said.


Her disappointments included Schwarzenegger's veto of SB 565, which had sought to establish a position to oversee health care management at the Yountville Veterans Home. In his Oct. 12 veto message, Schwarzenegger said the bill was unnecessary because he said such a position already existed. He said the bill also infringed on his authority to administer state agencies and programs.


Wiggins said she also was disappointed by Schwarzenegger's veto of SB 678, which would have enabled Napa County to purchase the property known as Skyline Park from the state (the county currently leases the land for a nominal annual amount); and his veto of SB 861, which would have allowed the North Coast Railroad Authority to reallocate some of its funds toward environmental cleanup.


Wiggins said she was saddened that SB 623, her bill that would have covered the cost of drug co-payments for seniors and other individuals under the Medicare Part D program, died in the Legislature.

 

“Clearly, this year did not lack for disappointments, but I think it is important to keep things in their proper perspective,” said Wiggins. “We have yet to implement a strategy for reforming health care, which has of course been frustrating, but we are still working at it and I remain hopeful that something will come together in the near future.”


She added, “On a personal level, while I am disappointed, and in some cases perplexed, over the Governor’s decision to veto some of my bills, I am nonetheless appreciative of the fact that he did, in the end, sign nine of my bills into law this year.”


With one exception – SB 556, an “urgency” measure establishing the Light Brown Apple Moth program within the state Department of Food & Agriculture – all of the new laws created by Wiggins' legislation will take effect next January.


Those bills signed into law and brief explanations follow.


SB 106: Ratified the gaming compact between the state and the Yurok Tribe of the Yurok Reservation, allowing the tribe to operate up to 99 gaming machines at a fuel mart and future gaming facility on its reservation.


SB 108: Expands the types of nonprofit organizations able to allow wine orders to be taken by wineries at their events to include civic leagues, social organizations and “voluntary employees’ benefit associations (this is an expansion of AB 1505, a 2003 bill by then-Assemblywoman Wiggins).


SB 319: Extends to Jan. 1, 2012 an exemption to state labor law allowing minors in Lake County (16-17 years of age) to work up to 10 hours a day and up to 60 hours a week in agricultural packing plants during the harvest season (when school is not in session).


SB 556: Creates the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) program within the California Department of Food and Agriculture.


SB 568: Authorizes counties to administer necessary medications to inmates diagnosed as mentally ill and found incompetent to stand trial (the bill requires that the drugs be administered utilizing a medically approved protocol at a county jail facility, in the same manner as at an in-patient unit or state hospital).


SB 581: Transfers the Volunteer Firefighter Length of Service Award System (a program that provides a small monthly stipend to people who do perform long service to their communities as volunteer firefighters) from CalPERS to the California State Fire Employees Welfare Benefit Corp.


SB 701: Reinstates the California Forest Legacy Program, which had expired in 2007 (the program, which is designed to protect forest land, including working forests, from development pressures, is necessary for the state to receive federal funds for forest conservation).


SB 773: Allows 43-foot cattle trailers to be used in transporting livestock over certain parts of Highway 101.


SB 813: Clarifies that a specific section of the state elections code does not apply to runoff elections (the legislation was necessary due to a conflict which arose following the 2006 race for district attorney in Mendocino County).


“We expanded or extended existing laws, and created some new ones, in areas which will benefit the state as a whole,” said Wiggins.


Looking ahead at the 2008 legislative year, Wiggins said her top priorities include the wine industry, fish and game, smart growth, waste diversion, rural telephone rates and North Coast railroad issues.


Wiggins would be termed out of service in the Senate in 2014.


Visit her Web site at http://dist02.casen.govoffice.com/.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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