DOWNTOWN Santa Monica seniors who were once ineligible for Medi-cal, because their homes were too valuable, will find it easier to get coverage come January.

Under a new law authored by State Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), seniors whose homes are valued at under $750,000 can qualify for the public health insurance program, whereas before it was set at $500,00, leaving many without coverage.

This new state law is one of a half dozen bills that Santa Monica representatives saw signed by the governor this legislative season.

While Kuehl and Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) had a number of their bills approved, both confessed to being disappointed with the results after Gov. Schwarzenegger finished signing bills Sept. 30.

<!– No LPSH –>“It’s a blood bath for us,” Kuehl said regarding the outcome.

Four out of 12 of Kuehl’s bills were signed into law. In the past she said she averaged 11 to 12 bills per year. Earlier in the year, Gov. Schwarzenegger supported a health bill that was not passed through the Senate Health Committee that Kuehl chairs. Kuehl said the governor sought vindication by passing a low number of her bills. Kuehl’s own universal health care act, SB 840, was vetoed by the governor for a second time.

“This is what you get with a vindictive governor. This was an unusually high amount [of bills vetoed],” Kuehl said.

Rachel Cameron, deputy press secretary for Schwarzenegger, refuted the statement that the governor acted vindictively in vetoing bills.

“The governor looks at and weighs each and every piece of legislation based on its own merit,” Cameron said.

However, she did admit that the long state budget impasse — a spending plan was approved last week, 85 days after the start of the fiscal year — had an effect on the bill signing process this season.

“He had to look at all the bills in an 11-day time period whereas he normally has 30 days to review them,” Cameron said.

<!– No LPSH –>The governor refused to sign any bills until a budget was approved.

<!– No LPSH –>In all, the governor signed 772 bills into law and vetoed 415.

Brownley, who represents Santa Monica in the 41st Assembly District, was extremely disappointed that some of her bills were not passed.

“I think when I look at my bills it’s pretty consistent with what he did generally,” Brownley said. “The ratio is about 50 percent. The bills he vetoed were very strong, well-vetted bills.”

Kuehl’s bills

SB 129: Harassing telephone calls and electronic contact made with Intent to annoy.

• This bill expands current law to make it illegal to harass others through electronic communication such as cell phones, text messaging, and e-mail. Previously electronic forms of communication fell outside of the home/workplace requirement in the current penal code.

SB 241: Minor’s counsel in probate proceedings.

• Under the current law no entity is responsible for providing children with counsel when they are the subject of a guardianship case. The new bill would allow courts to appoint independent counsel to represent mothers and fathers under 18 in guardianship cases of their children.

SB 1184: Mandatory CD4 reporting.

• California will now require CD4 counts to be reported by labs within seven days of a test being completed. CD4 stands for CD + T-lymphocyte. Tests for the count are ordered for HIV patients to evaluate their immune system. A CD4 count lower than 200 signifies that a person has AIDS. The number of cases of HIV and AIDS reported determines the amount of federal funding the state will receive.

Brownley bills

AB 2810: Human trafficking.

• As of Jan. 1 authorities will now have to screen victims of domestic violence, child abuse and prostitution to determine if they are victims of human trafficking.

AB 2901: Consumer protection enforcement tools.

• Technical changes will be made to the law enacted in 2006 that requires retailers to develop a plan to reuse, recycle, and properly dispose of used cellphones.

AB 3015: Foster care safe schools training.

• This bill was created in response to the case of Larry King, a 15-year-old foster child, who was murdered after repeated harassment stemming from his sexual orientation. The harassment ended in his murder earlier this year in Oxnard. The bill would require people who take care of foster children to be trained on existing laws that protect foster children, especially in the case of sexual orientation.

AB 3030: Local publicly owned water utility rate cases.

• Publicly owned water utilities will now have to give 30 day notice of rate changes. A multi-year rate schedule not to extend past five years.

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