Calif. Governor Signs Flood Legislation, Rejects Bill on Child Booster Seats

October 11, 2007

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation designed to strengthen flood protections in California and approved a bill that would ban smoking in vehicles carrying children. Meanwhile, he rejected a measure that would have required children younger than 8 years old and shorter than 4 feet, nine inches tall ride in back-seat booster seats.

The package of flood bills signed by the governor include AB 156, SB 5, AB 162, SB 17, AB 70, and AB 5, that should lead to the development of a comprehensive Central Valley Flood Protection Plan, the Office of the Governor stated. It will also reform the Reclamation Board to improve efficency, require cities and counties to increase consideration of flood risks when making land use decisions and create a new standard in flood protection for urban development in the region.

“California’s Central Valley has thousands of miles of levees protecting millions of residents, and we expect millions more in the coming decades,” Schwarzenegger said. “We want to make sure the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina do not happen here if there is an earthquake or other natural disaster. That is why we will establish a 200-year flood protection as the standard for urban developments in the Central Valley so our growth will be safe growth.”

In February 2006, the governor declared a state of emergency for California’s levee system and ordered the state Department of Water Resources to develop a plan to begin immediate repairs to prevent catastrophic flooding and loss of life. That declaration allowed state agencies to fast-track environmental permits and contracting procedures, and to begin repair work. Thirty-three vulnerable levees in Northern California have been repaired, the governor’s office said.

In an unrelated measure, SB 7, which will take effect Jan. 1, will make it illegal to smoke in vehicles carrying children under age 17. Existing law makes it an infraction for a person to smoke a
cigarette, cigar, or other tobacco-related product within 25 feet of
a playground or tot lot sandbox area. The recently signed legislation would make it an infraction punishable by a fine not exceeding $100 for a person to smoke a pipe, cigar, or cigarette in a motor vehicle, whether in motion or at rest, in which there is a minor.

Law enforcement officers would not be able to stop a vehicle for the sole purpose of determining whether the driver was in violation of the antismoking provisions imposed by the bill, but it will be a secondary offense.

Yet the governor rejected AB 881, which would have extended the age requirement for children to ride in back seat booster seats from age 6 to age 8.

“I share a genuine concern for the safety and well being of young
passengers traveling in motor vehicles with their parents. Ultimately, it has to be the parents who are responsible for their children’s safety,” Schwarzenegger wrote in vetoing the measure. He indicated he had vetoed a similar measure (AB 2108) in last year’s legislative session because he believes efforts to protect children should be focused on education and enforcement of existing laws, not the addition of new ones.

“Rather than repeatedly passing new laws in response to the age, height or weight factors of our children and modifying legal requirements, a better strategy is to move towards full compliance
with the laws we already have,” he said.

Source: Office of the Governor

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