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Farmworker bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown

June 16, 2011 |  3:22 pm

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) sent Gov. Jerry Brown another political hot potato just hours after Brown vetoed the budget plan pushed by Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles).

Steinberg ordered a bill making it easier for farmworkers to unionize to be sent to Brown on Thursday. The measure was passed by both legislative houses earlier this year, but until now, Steinberg has delayed sending it to the governor, who has not said publicly whether he will sign the bill.

Representatives from the United Farm Workers, the sponsors of the legislation, brought former UFW leader Cesar Chavez's chair to Steinberg's office Thursday, and urged Brown to sit in the chair and sign the bill. Brown, who was in Los Angeles on Thursday, said he has been researching the issue and will study the bill closely once it is on his desk.

Brown has 12 days to sign or veto the measure. Brown often mentions his personal relationship with Chavez in public speeches, but has refused to answer definitively whether he will sign the bill. He was asked about the measure again at a news conference Thursday, and again, Brown demurred. A veto could further aggravate relations between Brown and legislative Democrats, who bristled at Brown's veto of the state budget Thursday.

Steinberg, who is the author of the farmworker measure, expressed anger and disappointment at Brown's decision to veto the budget plan passed by Democrats. He has lobbied Brown for weeks on the farmworker unionization measure, but his spokesman Nathan Barankin said the governor has not indicated whether the bill will be signed or vetoed.

--Anthony York

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