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Gov. holds out on bills for water plan

October 7, 2009 12:47:43 AM PDT
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is clashing with state lawmakers by threatening to veto hundreds of bills unless a new water plan is approved.The deadline looms on Sunday, and the governor's office is being very coy about whether there is a link between having a water solution and the fate of hundreds of bills.

This is usually bill-signing season when the Governor reviews hundreds of bills the Legislature sent him the month before.

But, so far, he has only signed three of the more than 700 on his desk.

"The reason that that's happening this way is because we're focused on trying to come to a close on water," said Aaron McLear, the governor's press secretary.

An agreement on how to solve the state's water problems has been elusive not only under the Schwarzenegger administration, but every Governor for at least two decades.

This year is especially urgent, because California is in the middle of a three-year drought where many farmers can't even plant crops.

The governor and republicans want nothing else but a water plan.

"There are few issues more important than water, so there's a rationale for saying the legislature should work first and foremost on the top issues of the day," said Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo.

With only five days left before the signing deadline, the governor is poised to just outright veto all the bills unless a water solution is on his desk.

That means bills like starting a registry of who buys bullets, preventing most employers from running credit checks on new hires and forcing counties to make sure there's enough fire protection before approving new subdivisions would have be rejected.

"It's bullying and very unfortunate to be held hostage because the legislature is unable or unwilling to do 100 percent of what the governor wants on an unrelated issue," said Sacramento Assemblyman Dave Jones.

"A mass vetoing of bills is never an appropriate use of his veto power, and I'm sure he's not going to do that," said Los Angeles Assemblywoman Karen Bass.

Last year, the governor threatened lawmakers with vetoes because they couldn't come to an agreement on the state budget. In the end, he vetoed 415 bills, which was a third of all bills being proposed, which is a record for the governor.

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