[Hpn] Sacramento, CA - CA approves bill on hypodermic needles & creates state office on Homelessness - Associated Press - August 30, 2002

H. C. Covington H. C. Covington" <hccjr@bellsouth.net
Wed, 04 Sep 2002 13:18:07 -0500


Senate approves bill to let pharmacies sell hypodermic needles
and created a state office on Homelessness within the governor's office

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By JENNIFER COLEMAN - Associated Press - August 30, 2002

State senators approved bills to let pharmacists sell hypodermic
needles without a doctor's prescription and to create a state Office
of Homelessness as the legislative deadline to pass bills loomed.

The Senate and Assembly have been holding all-day floor sessions
this week, sometimes working into the night, whittling down the
number of bills that have to be decided by the end of the
legislative session Saturday.

Among the bills approved Friday by both houses was a revised
measure that would allow farmworkers to use binding arbitration
to break contract negotiation stalemates.

It's the third bill the Legislature approved in an attempt to
craft a measure that Gov. Gray Davis would sign. Under the new
bill, farmworkers and growers who can't agree to a contract
within 90 days of a successful union election would meet with a
mediator for 30 days to try to reach an agreement.
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The Senate also voted to let pharmacies to sell up to 30
hypodermic needles to an adult without a doctor's prescription.

The Senate approved the bill, by Sen. John Vasconcellos, on a
21-12 vote, sending the bill to Davis.

The governor hasn't taken a position on the bill, said his
spokesman Russ Lopez, but Davis "believes that current needle
exchange programs are serving a purpose and they allow local
jurisdictions some control over the problem."

In those programs, city or county officials can declare a state
of emergency and create a needle exchange program.

Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, said his legislation would reduce
the number of cases of HIV and other diseases caused by the
sharing of needles among drug addicts.

Needle sharing is linked to 19 percent of all AIDS and half of
all Hepatitis C cases, supporters said.

Opponents argued the measure would encourage drug use.
--------------

Both houses approved a compromise on a bill that allows
businesses and homeowners with rooftop generating units to
continue getting full retail credit for power they generate for
the grid.

Utilities had objected to the bill by Assemblyman Fred Keeley,
D-Boulder Creek, which aims to extend the January 2003 expiration
of the net-metering program for customers with solar and wind
systems.

The utilities said they should only have to credit net-metering
customers with a wholesale, not a retail, rate. Supporters of
renewable energy said the retail credit encouraged the use of
nonpolluting electricity sources.

"It is good for California," Keeley said. "It is good for energy
independence."

The Senate approved the conference report on his bill 39-0, and
the Assembly approved it 78-0.
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Senators also approved a bill by Senate President Pro Tem John
Burton, D-San Francisco, that would create a state Office of
Homelessness within the governor's office.

The office would coordinate state services to the homeless and
identify gaps in those programs.
-------------------

The Senate also approved a bill that would let men named through
a default judgment as a child's father to use DNA evidence to
challenge paternity.

The bill, by Assemblyman Rod Wright, was narrowed to include only
men named through a default settlement, not those served legal
documents in person.

Most of the men in these situations first learn that they were
named the child's father when their wages are garnished for child
support, said Sen. Kevin Murray, D-Culver City.

Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, opposed the bill, saying it
would be harmful for the children involved in the dispute.

But Sen. Martha Escutia, chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, said the bill still allows a judge to determine what
is the best interest of the child.

It was approved 28-4, and goes back to the Assembly for approval
of Senate changes.

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On the Net: Read the bills, AB58, SB1795, SB1156,
AB2240 and SB1654, at www.leginfo.ca.gov
2002 Associated Press
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