Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, apparently standing by a threat to veto hundreds of bills on his desk unless a deal can be reached on the state's water problems, has suggested to Senate leader Darrell Steinberg that all legislation before the governor should be withdrawn to avoid a veto. About 700 bills are awaiting action.
Schwarzenegger did not formally request that the bills be yanked, but that was the implicit suggestion in his proposal, Capitol sources said.
The communications between Steinberg and the governor were referenced in an e-mail sent from Steinberg to Senate Democrats this week. In the internal e-mail, which was reviewed by Capitol Weekly, Steinberg said Schwarzenegger "even mentioned coming back this week to withdraw bills from his desk and hold them until after water is done."
The govenror has called a Big 5 meeting of hismself and legislative leaders, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, to discuss progress on water negotiations and on the hundreds of bills that have already been passed by both houses.
Steinberg spokeswoman Alicia Trost said Schwarzenegger did not formally ask Steinberg to withdraw the hndreds of Senate bills on the governor's desk. And in the e-mail, Steinberg said his advice to members was "not to participate in the silliness and continue to do our jobs."
Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear refused to comment about Steinberg's e-mail or whether or not the governor wants the bills removed from his desk.
The e-mail comes as the governor remains coy about the fate of the bills still on his desk. McLear said Monday that no decision had been made about how many bills the governor would sign or veto, but did say Schwarzenegger remains committed to trying to secure a water deal.
"The governor will consider every bill on its merits, but believes the focus needs to be on water right now," he said.
Schwarzenegger has until Oct. 11 to act upon the bills currently on his desk. If he does not sign or veto a bill by that time, it automatically becomes law. If any bill were withdrawn from his desk, it could be sent back at a later date. That would effectively reset the clock, and the governor would have 12 days from the day the bill returns to his desk to act on the bill.
When asked if a water deal was imminent, sources in the Legislature and the governor's office said meetings will continue through the week, but that no agreement has been reached.
The Senate is planning to return on Oct. 13 to convene both a regular session and finish up bills in the third extraordinary session. The Senate is hoping to take up nearly two dozen bills, including funding for battered women's shelters and hospitals that were killed as part of a partisan meltdown at the end of session in the early hours of Sept. 12.
A spokeswoman for Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, said there were no plans for the Assembly to return. "There are no plans for the Assembly to come back currently because the Assembly finished its job last month before session ended," said Bass spokewoman Shannon Murphy.
The Senate may also take up a measure to fast track a proposed NFL stadium in the City of Industry. While the developer has reached a deal with the City of Walnut over the plan, a local citizens group remains opposed to the proposal. Trost said it would be the Senate's preference for local officials to reach a compromise.
"We are currently working with the citizens group that is the remaining opposition to see if we can come up with a settlement so there would not be a need for the legislation," she said.