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Gov.’s surprise bill signings: Harvey Milk recognition, paparazzi restrictions and ammo tracking

October 12, 2009 |  1:33 pm

Schwarz Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger surprised many people today by reversing himself on several pieces of legislation and signing bills similar to ones he had previously vetoed, including measures regulating ammunition sales and recognizing gay rights leader Harvey Milk. He also signed measures to regulate cosmetic surgery and the paparazzi, both introduced in response to incidents involving celebrities.

The Republican governor signed a bill, opposed by many conservatives, that requires sellers of handgun ammunition, starting in 2011, to keep a log of information on sales including the buyer's thumbprint, signature and driver's license data.

"Although I have previously vetoed legislation similar to this measure, local governments have demonstrated that requiring ammunition vendors to keep records on ammunition sales improves public safety,'' Schwarzenegger said in a statement on AB 962 by Assemblyman Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles).

Because the governor had vetoed other bills restricting guns this year, the executive of Gun Owners of California was baffled that the governor agreed to track ammunition sales.

"We think it was a devastating mistake,'' said Sam Paredes, executive director of the group representing 30,000 gun owners. Ammunition buyers, he said, "are going to be treated like registered sex offenders now.''

Paredes said he suspects the governor's surprising action on some bills was part of his effort "to line up votes on his water package.''

There was also strong reaction to the governor's approval of a measure proclaiming gay rights activist Harvey Milk's May 22 birthday as day of recognition and encouraging schools to consider commemorating his life.

The rights group Equality California praised Schwarzenegger for approving SB 572, the Milk bill, and SB 54, which recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states before California's November 2008 ban on gay marriage.

"Californians will now learn about Harvey's amazing contributions to the advancement of civil rights for decades to come," said Geoff Kors, the group's executive director.

But Randy Thomasson, president of the family values group SaveCalifornia.com, called the governor's action appalling, and said Milk "in no way was a good role model for impressionable schoolchildren."

In signing the same-sex marriage bill, the governor said there was uncertainty about how California should treat same-sex couples married out of state while such marriages were legal in California before the passage of Proposition 8.

The measure, Schwarzenegger said "honors the will of the people in enacting Proposition 8 while providing important protections to those unions legally entered into in other states.''

Other bills signed by the governor include:

--The Donda West Law, named after the mother of rap artist Kanye West, who died from complications after she underwent cosmetic surgery. AB 1116 by Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter (D-Rialto) prohibits elective cosmetic surgery unless the patient first is cleared by a physical examination.

--A measure aimed at reining in the paparazzi by making it a crime, punishable by a fine of up to $50,000, for a person to take and sell unauthorized photos of celebrities and others or their children in "personal or familial activity.'' AB 524 is by Assemblywoman Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles.)

--Legislation that prohibits political candidates from paying their spouses or domestic partners to work on their campaigns. Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks) authored SB 739 after he was criticized for hiring his wife on his campaign. Ross Johnson, chairman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, said the bill was a step in the right direction. "It's just unseemly for a spouse or significant other of a candidate to be able to earn money from contributions," Johnson said.

The governor nixed a bill that would have extended the beverage recycling fee to additional containers, including fruit and vegetable juices and soy based drinks. "This expansion is inappropriate given that these products are often dietary necessities for families,'' Schwarzenegger wrote about SB 402 by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis).

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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