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Bills to limit lawmakers' gifts, give Olympians tax breaks shelved

August 16, 2012 |  2:36 pm

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State lawmakers on Thursday shelved dozens of bills for the year, including a measure barring them from accepting concert tickets, spa treatments and other gifts from firms lobbying them for favorable treatment.

Legislative committees also held back bills that would create a moratorium on fracking, allow sports betting in California and provide tax breaks to Olympic medalists.

The gift ban proposed by Sen. Sam Blakeslee (D-San Luis Obispo) in SB 1426 was not even brought up for a vote by a committee headed by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake). He was not immediately available for comment. Similar proposals had failed to win approval in previous years as well, and Phillip Ung of California Common Cause said it would be back again next year.

"The bill was popular with voters and unpopular with special interests," Ung said. "The result shows who won the battle."

The Senate Appropriations Committee shelved a proposal to exempt Olympic medals and the honorariums that go with them from state income taxes. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he enjoyed watching American athletes succeed, but he questioned giving out tax breaks "with all our other needs and all the budget cuts we made."

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) had introduced the measure, AB 1786, and was hoping to negotiate a compromise that might still be acted on this year, an aide said.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee headed by Gatto also shelved a measure by Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) that would have allowed Californians to bet on Lakers games and other professional sporting events, but only if the federal government first lifted its own ban on the practice.

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Assembly member Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), right, at the Speakers Cup golf outing hosted by AT&T at Pebble Beach Golf Course. At the April event, lawmakers and lobbyists golf, schmooze and typically raise more than $1 million for Democrats. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

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