Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Alate-blooming, business-backed drive to significantly alter the 42-year-old California Environmental Quality Act died late last week when it crashed into a wall of opposition from influential environmental groups.

That wasn’t the official reason, of course. Rather, legislative leaders insisted that putting off CEQA modification was a good government decision not to rush on something so significant.

“This law, for all of its strengths and its faults, is far too important to rewrite in the last days of the session,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said.

Steinberg, who does public sincerity well, uttered those words with a straight face. But at the risk of sounding churlish, one must point out that the fact that there are just a few days remaining in the session has not dissuaded him or other legislative leaders from ginning up almost countless numbers of new bills with far-reaching economic and social effects.

Such as:

• Steinberg’s own bill that would overturn, or at least significantly alter, a 2011 state Supreme Court decision on how medical costs are to be awarded in personal injury cases, the top priority of his friends in the Consumer Attorneys of California, the trade group for personal injury lawyers. If enacted, his bill could have multibillion-dollar effects.

• Another Steinberg bill that would semi-legalize about 3 million illegal immigrants in the state by allowing them to file income tax returns, plus a second measure that would grant at least some of those immigrants state driver’s licenses.

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