In a memo to fellow Republicans last week, Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee ripped into the governor for signing bills that outlaw gender discrimination in health care and prohibit health insurers from dropping clients who run up large bills within two years of signing up.
The two pieces of health care legislation are among the “10 worst bills” signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Blakeslee wrote in a memo to the Assembly Republican caucus.
The memo was leaked to the Capitol Weekly, a Sacramento politics newsletter.
Blakeslee said the bills would increase health care costs.
His press secretary, Jennifer Gibbons, said Blakeslee sent the memo to draw attention to what he considers a disturbing practice of Schwarzenegger changing his positions on bills.
The tone of the memo, she said, was “cautionary.”
Later in the week, Blakeslee continued to rip into the governor, telling the Sacramento Bee that the governor’s public pronouncements about bipartisanship in crafting a water deal have been contradicted by closed-door threats from Susan Kennedy, his chief of staff.
“In Sacramento, whether you’re on the right or the left or the center, people need to know that when you shake their hand, you can rely upon their word,” Blakeslee said.
Aaron McLear, Schwarz-enegger’s spokesman, declined to comment on Blakeslee’s accusation that Kennedy made threats, but he told the Bee the governor’s position on a water deal has not changed.
“We have no idea what Mr. Blakeslee is talking about,” McLear told the Bee. “The governor has been consistent in his commitment to getting a comprehensive, bipartisan water solution.”
Blakeslee expressed his annoyance after Schwarz-enegger, a fellow Republican, signed scores of bills early last week.
Schwarzenegger’s decision “to sign into law some of the most noxious legislative proposals brought before us this year is both disheartening and revealing,” he wrote.
Other laws on Blakeslee’s top 10 list include recognizing out-of-state gay marriages; declaring May 22 “Harvey Milk Day,” which Blakeslee said “champions (the) homosexual political agenda”; and restrictions on the sale of handgun ammunition.
He also tore into easing of parole restrictions for felons, early release of juvenile justice wards and defining nitrogen trifluoride as a “greenhouse gas.”
Blakeslee generally aimed his ire at bills that he believes harm taxpayers, including several he saw as weakening Proposition 13.
As the Republican leader in the Assembly, Blakeslee is one of the so-called Big Five who have significant input into how the state is run. The five include the majority and minority leaders of both major parties as well as the governor.
Blakeslee’s tone was less than conciliatory or bipartisan. He accused Schwarz-enegger of “a shocking reversal of position on the issues about which we care most deeply: taxes, Second Amendment rights, family values, over-regulation, etc.”
He called Schwarzenegger’s signing of the bills “a public policy disaster.”