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New year bringing new laws

Thursday, December 31, 2009

San Mateo Daily Journal

Simitian — well-known for his cell phone driving bills — has another motorist law on the books beginning Friday. SB159 makes permanent the “Slow down and move over” law which requires drivers to slow down and move to the next lane when approaching an emergency vehicle or tow truck with emergency lights. The law was scheduled to sunset Jan. 1, 2010 without Simitian’s extension. A parallel bill by state Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, also expands the law to include Caltrans vehicles flashing amber lights.

A constituent was behind SB 486 which requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to list on their Web sites information about any safe need collection and disposal programs they offer. The companies must also send the plans to the state for display on its Web site.

The bill was a winning entry by San Carlos resident Betty Lipkin in Simitian’s annual “There Oughta Be A Law” contest. Lipkin suggested the law to help those like herself who use syringes and needles.

The environment wasn’t left out of Simitian’s bills, either. SB 614 clarifies and extends the Clean Coast Act by banning commercial vessels discharging certain waste into California waters and requires a vessel owner or operator to notify the state if sewage is released into marine waters or a marine sanctuary.

Education, a cause long-championed by Simitian, is helped by SB 19 which ensures the state’s eligibility for $4.35 billion in “Race to the Top” education funds. The bill cleans up language in state law that the federal government could feel prevents the use of pupil data in teacher assignment and evaluation.

Simitian’s possibly most notable bill has already been signed by the governor. In November, Schwarzenegger signed SB 7X1, the Delta Protection and Water Supply Bill which Simitian said will restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and ensure adequate water for the state in the future. The bill created the Delta Stewardship Council with the authority of tackling how to move water through, around or under the Delta while maintaining a healthy ecosystem. The cost of any new method will be borne by water users, a caveat which has led to some opposition of Simitian’s bill and associated bills in the water package. How exactly appointees are named to the council, too, has also raised some concern.

View the full story (San Mateo Daily Journal)