It took two tries but the state Senate on Wednesday finally sent the governor a bill that legally shields businesses offering furlough Friday discounts.
You might remember last month when the bill got caught in the crossfire of unrelated, end-of-session squabbling between Democrats and Republicans in the upper house. Well, it was all sunshine and smiles Wednesday as the Senate met in special session to reconsider bills stalled by September’s political sparring. SB 367, sponsored by the Consumer Attorneys of California, sailed off the Senate floor and to the governor’s desk.
The bill clarifies that businesses offering cheap food, cheap beer or any other type of discount to furloughed or laid off workers aren’t violating the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
Cheap food, and a new NFL Stadium ... after the jump.
Bill author Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, said she was responding to a “San Diego area attorney” threatening Sacramento area businesses with litigation. Her target appeared to be Al Rava, a San Diego attorney who challenged Squaw Valley’s furlough Friday program for state workers. (Rava said the ski resort never checked customers’ furlough status). But Rava actually wrote letters in support of SB 367.
Either way, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the bill.
Also on the second try, senators voted to exempt a 75,000-seat NFL stadium project in the City of Industry from CEQA, the state’s environmental review law. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, delayed a vote on the controversial bill last month in an attempt to negotiate a settlement to the city of Walnut’s lawsuit against neighboring Industry.
Talks led by former Attorney General John Van de Kamp resulted in the city of Walnut dropping the litigation in exchange for millions of dollars in mitigation measures. A group of Walnut residents, however, was not persuaded to drop its own lawsuit. So Steinberg brought the bill back for a vote Wednesday.
Critics complained that CEQA shouldn’t be dashed for a single project pushed by a wealthy developer. But supporters say the project’s environmentally friendly features and promised jobs outweighed concerns about the CEQA process.
“Some may say … that this opens the door to many challenges to CEQA,” Steinberg said. “It doesn’t have to be that way because we can always say no.”
The bill passed with 21 votes, the bare minimum needed.
— Cheryl Miller
Follow me on Twitter