Brown Signs California Healthcare Legislation

Associated Press –

Oct. 10: Sacramento, Calif. – Racing to finish work on bills from state
lawmakers, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law three health care bills,
including two designed to protect teenagers from skin cancer and sexually
transmitted diseases.

One bill will make California the first state to make it illegal for
teenagers than 18 to use tanning beds. The second will let children as young
as 12, without their parents’ consent, be vaccinated against human
papillomavirus, known as HPV, the leading cause of cervical cancer.

The third bill requires insurance coverage for autism. Brown vetoed a fourth
health care bill, AB791, which would have required extra warnings for the 40
percent of women over 40 who have breast tissue dense enough to mask or mimic
cancers on mammograms. Brown, in his veto message, debated whether the
warning was “a path to greater knowledge or unnecessary anxiety.”

Early Monday, the governor’s office announced he had signed a measure that
bans the open carrying of handguns. The law, AB144, makes it a misdemeanor to
carry an exposed and unloaded gun in a public place.

Top California law enforcement officials supported the legislation, and the
Los Angeles Times reported that Brown said he had “listened to the
police chiefs.”

Brown on Sunday worked through 142 bills on his desk before a midnight
deadline. Aides said it might be Monday before he announced all the actions
he had taken.

He waded into the national debate over child vaccinations for sexually
transmitted diseases by signing AB499, allowing preteens and teens to be
vaccinated without their parents’ consent.

The choice has been hotly debated recently in the Republican presidential
race, when candidate Michele Bachmann attacked Texas Gov. Rick Perry for
issuing a 2007 executive order mandating the HPV vaccine for young girls.

Public health officials said the law will keep up with new prevention
treatments and help slow the spread of disease among minors. Randy Thomasson,
president of SaveCalifornia.com, worried the law will deceive preteen girls
into believing they can freely engage in sexual activity without risk. He
also accused Brown of interfering with parents’ ability to make decisions for
children not yet old enough to vote or drive.

Public health officials also praised Brown for banning the use of tanning
beds by teenagers under age 18. Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, who authored
SB746, said 30 other states have some restrictions but that California would
be the first to set the higher age limit. Currently, using tanning beds is illegal
in California for those 14 and under, but those ages 15-17 can tan with their
parents’ permission.

The Indoor Tanning Association said 5 percent to 10 percent of its customers
are younger than 18. The organization said California tanning salons already
face the most stringent regulations in the nation.

Brown also signed SB946, requiring health insurance plans to provide coverage
for children with autism or other developmental disorders. Senate President
Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, called the coverage “the
difference between despair and hope” for many families.

Opponents say SB946 will increase health insurance premiums by millions of
dollars just as many people and businesses are struggling to afford their
insurance coverage during tight times.

Sunday’s action followed a similar flurry on Saturday. Among bills the
governor said he signed on the final weekend:

* SB126, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento,
punishes agriculture employers found to have violated union election rules by
letting the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board automatically certify
farmworker unions as a penalty.

* AB131, by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, lets illegal immigrants
apply for state-funded scholarships and aid at state universities. Brown
signed the first half of the California Dream Act in July, when he approved
private scholarships and loans for students who are illegal immigrants.

* AB1112, by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, authorizes the Office
of Spill Prevention and Response to raise fees for an oil spill prevention
fund and increase inspections of high-risk vessel-to-vessel petroleum
transfers.

* AB438, by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, requires private
companies to prove they will save taxpayers money before they are allowed to
take over operating a public library.

The governor vetoed:

* AB165, by Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, would have prohibited
K-12 schools from charging fees for certain classes, sports and clubs. Brown
said the bill took the wrong approach to ensuring that children are
guaranteed a free public education.

* SB914, by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would have required law
enforcement officers to get a warrant before they search through the smart
phones and other electronic devices of people they arrest. The bill would
have overridden a recent California Supreme Court decision, but Brown said
the issue is better left to the courts.

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