Gov. gets hostile with CA water crisis

October 6, 2009 7:15:36 PM PDT
There's a political stand-off in Sacramento that some are calling a hostage situation. and the stakes couldn't be higher -- California's water supply.

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The governor has threatened to veto hundreds of bills unless lawmakers give him what he wants.

The Governor's Office is being very coy about whether there is a link between the 700-plus bills and having a water solution. But Assembly member Alberto Cherico thinks there is a link, even calling it 'extortion' and is asking the attorney general to investigate.

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 Press Secretary Aaron McLear.

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 sying the Legislature should work first and foremost on the top issues of the day," said Assm. Sam Blakeslee, R-Assembly Minority Leader.

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.

"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 Assm. Dave Jones D-Sacramento

The Governor met with leaders on Tuesday. While progress is being made on water talks, Speaker Bass doesn't believe Schwarzenegger will follow through on his veto threat.

"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," she said.

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 or one-third of all of bills, which is a record for Governor Schwarzenegger.

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