Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Governor Vetoes Interpreters Bill, Approves Court Repairs Bill
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed legislation that would have provided court-appointed interpreters for civil matters despite bi-partisan support and backing by the judicial council, state bar, and many legal organizations.
The governor explained in a “form letter” to the Assembly that he was forced to “prioritize the billed sent to my desk” as a result of the delay in passing the state budget, and would only sign bills “that are the highest priority for California.”
The bill’s author, Assembly Member Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, criticized the governor’s decision, stating in a release:
“Seven million Californians cannot access the courts without significant language assistance, and yet the Governor now says that my legislation to remedy this situation is not a priority for California.”
Chief Justice Ronald M. George declined to issue a statement regarding the governor’s veto, but had called the bill a “historic measure” that “recognizes and reinforces the fundamental adage that meaningful access to justice requires the ability to understand the proceedings” during his state of the judiciary address over the weekend.
The Judicial Council has sought funding for court interpreters in civil cases for the past several years, but Jones said the governor had vetoed each prior measure because they all required funding from the state’s general fund.
Jones had expressed cautious optimism that AB 3050 would pass because it was self-funded by a fee of about $15 on telephonic court appearances. He estimated that the bill would generate close to $3 million statewide while also providing uniformity for telephonic appearance fees.
“I don’t know what California [the governor] is living in, but the California the rest of us live in has courts that are overwhelmed by the need for civil court interpreters,” Jones said.
However, the governor approved another judicial council-sponsored bill that will provide $5 billion in revenue bonds to build and renovate California’s courthouses.
Senate Bill 1407, authored by Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata, will be financed entirely through increases in court-related fines and fees.
George praised the bill as a “major step forward” to ensure courthouse safety.
“Many of California’s courthouses are in such a state of disrepair that we have identified 68 facilities as demonstrating either ‘critical or immediate needs,’” George said. He estimated that SB 1407 would provide funding to repair up to 40 of those courthouses in need.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company