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Brown's Hands-Free Cell Phone Veto Surprises Author

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The measure would have boosted fines significantly and added a point to a driver's record for a second violation.  Elizabeth Ashford in the governor's press office says Brown supports discouraging cell phone use while driving…

Ashford: "But he does feel that for people who are of ordinary means, the current fines and penalties should be sufficient to deter them from texting."

Simitian: "A simple look out the windshield tells us that's not the case."

Democratic Senator Joe Simitian wrote the bill, and he's surprised and disappointed by Brown's veto.  He says drivers have changed their habits in the past, from drunk driving to wearing seat belts - but that takes time.

Simitian: "It also takes a significant deterrent, as well as enforcement, as well as public awareness."

Simitian says he'll check with the governor to see if Brown might be open to a scaled-back version of the bill next year.



The governor also vetoed a measure that would have required minors to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding.  Ashford says this is an issue that's best left up to parents.

Ashford: "Not every human problem deserves a law.  So of course, he encourages parents to make safe choices for their kids, but he didn't feel that we needed something on the books.  In this case, he's relying on parents to make the smart choice."

In his veto message, Brown says he's concerned about what he sees as, quote - "the continuing and seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state."

Democratic Senator Leland Yee wrote the bill.  Yee's office is calling the governor's veto message "strange."  In a statement, the senator says Brown ignored the pleas of parents who were asking for a helmet requirement for kids who ski or snowboard.  Yee says his bill would have significantly reduced minors' traumatic brain injuries and deaths on the slopes.

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