Oropeza sends eight measures to governor’s desk

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jenny-oropezaEducating students about their rights; making cancer testing more reliable, ensuring cargo theft is easier to track; giving local governments a greater say over alcohol beverage control; and regulating a gas 17,000 times more harmful than carbon dioxide are among bills by Sen. Jenny Oropeza sent to Gov. Schwarzenegger for his consideration.

Measures by Oropeza, D-Long Beach, approved by the Legislature are:

SB 24: Grand Theft: Cargo

This public-safety measure received broad bipartisan support and is backed by law enforcement and community organizations statewide. It would permanently define cargo theft as a type of grand theft by reauthorizing a 2004 law (AB 1814, Oropeza) that created the original designation. In the four years following its enactment, California law enforcement has received millions of dollars in federal funding for port protection, including more than $6 million for Los Angeles County. Without action, the Port Security Act will sunset at the end of this year.

SB 104: Nitrogen Trifluoride

Supported by environmental groups statewide, this legislation would require the California Air Resources Board to regulate trifluoride, or NF3. Recent studies concluded that NF3 is 17,000 times more harmful than carbon dioxide and, contrary to industry claims, a larger amount of NF3 has been released into the air than previously believed. It comes in the wake of Assembly Bill 32, the widely lauded 2006 legislation that sought to reduce harmful emissions. AB 32 did not address NF3, because at the time it was thought to be a harmless alternative to gases used to manufacture televisions, solar panels and microprocessors.

SB 112: Dialysis Technician Training

This measure would revise California’s hemodialysis technician training to comply with recently issued federal regulations. The state’s more than 5,000 Certified Hemodialysis Technicians must be federally qualified under the new guidelines by April 10, 2010 to maintain millions of dollars in federal Medicare funding. Medical groups statewide support Oropeza’s bill.

SB 124: School Bus Idling

This environmental-protection measure will reinforce a California Air Resources Board regulation requiring bus drivers to turn off their idling engines at their destination when it is within 100 feet of a school and restart the engine no more than 30 seconds before departing. Exemptions are allowed while idling in traffic, to ensure safe operating conditions of the bus or vehicle, operating equipment needed by persons with disabilities and climate control for children.

SB 148: Mammogram Machines: Inspections

This consumer-protection bill would require medical providers that operate mammogram machines to conspicuously post notices of serious violations. With more than 25,000 California women developing breast cancer each year, and more than 4,000 dying from it, an extra layer of safety is necessary and prudent. Breast cancer survival rates increase when diagnosed early. If the cancer is confined to the breast when discovered, the five-year survival rate is greater than 95 percent.

SB 201: Vehicles: Illegal Taxicabs

Another consumer-protection measure, SB 201 would set a first-ever $1,250 penalty for “bandit” taxicabs operating without a city license. The measure is in response to the festering problem of unlicensed taxicabs usurping business from legitimate players in the industry. It is sponsored by the City of Los Angeles and comes on the heels of a record 1,427 arrests citywide for driving bandit taxicabs in 2008. That’s more than three times the annual average number of arrests over the previous 10 years.

SB 248: Educational Equity: Title IX

This would require school districts, community colleges and campus of the California State University to post the list of rights afforded to pupils under Title IX on the district or campus Web site. The bill also requests compliance on the part of the University of California.

SB 415: Alcohol Beverages: Licenses

Under current law, local governments are allowed 30 days to review an application for a new license or for the transfer of an existing license. If necessary, local law enforcement can request an additional 20 days from the state to assess the merits of an application. Under SB 415, local officials could seek an extension directly without having to burden local law enforcement with the task of submitting the extension request. It also would extend these additional reviews from 20 days to 30 days.

Additionally, Oropeza has vowed to continue her pursuit in 2010 of several bills. These include SB 4, landmark legislation that would ban smoking at state beaches; SB 35, an effort to increase public awareness about the amount of edible food going to landfills; and SB 323, a measure that would allow any tax refund to be deposited directly into a qualified tuition program, known as a 529 plan.

Last month, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed SB 18, Oropeza’s bill that will increase fines beginning Jan. 1 on those found guilty of abusing dependent adults and senior citizens 65 and older.

The governor has 30 days from the end of Friday’s session, to sign these measures, veto them or allow them to become law without his signature.

Elected to the Assembly in 2000 and the Senate in 2006, Jenny Oropeza is the highest-ranking Latina in the Senate and chairs the Senate Majority Caucus. For more, visit www.senate.ca.gov/oropeza.

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