Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Doing The Right Thing: For Once I Support Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

These are two of those laws that we should not ever have to pass. I may not be a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the political world, but this is one time that I, and you too, should be behind him 110%! The Gov plans to sign a measure that gives working spouses the right to take 10 days of unpaid leave while their husband or wife enjoys a respite from war, as well as one designed to shut down unscrupulous payday loan offices near some military bases.

Husbands and wives of California troops returning home from combat can sometimes be forced to choose between keeping their jobs or spending time with their loved ones. The Legislature passed the measures by more than a two-thirds vote, which means each will go into effect immediately after being signed. Now it's up to Arnold to make it the law.

Assemblyman Ted Lieu, who sponsored the legislation, said men and women in the military deserve special consideration. “They're the true heroes of today,” he said. Lieu said the 10-day unpaid leave measure, AB 392, is important to give families “decompression time” together without job pressures. “They have been risking their lives for us,” he said. “It takes time to adjust to being back.”

Col. Dave Baldwin, commander of a California National Guard unit based near Mesa College in San Diego, called the signing “a very positive step” for service members and their families. I cannot understand how any company, with any sort of heart, would not allow the wife or husband of an active military soldier, time off without pay during some of the short stays these heroes have before redeployment. Hell, they should even be paid. Maybe not 10 days, but two or three. Our military families should not have to suffer!

Schwarzenegger will also sign Lieu's AB 7, which is designed to sharply curtail payday loan businesses that lure military personnel with quick, easy cash. The legislation will make California law conform with a new federal interest-rate cap of 36 percent on loans to troops. The targeted companies generally offer cash advances, usually until the next payday. When loans are not repaid in time, the annualized interest can grow into triple digits, critics say.

Schwarzenegger has long championed loan restrictions and created a task force that developed a series of recommendations to protect service members from drowning in debt because of payday loans. Lieu said the new law will drive out unscrupulous companies that prey on young troops who are vulnerable. “We know from any industry that there are good actors and bad actors,” Lieu said. “Unfortunately, a lot of bad actors have congregated outside our bases. This will shut them down.”

Separately, Schwarzenegger announced yesterday he will be sending 3,200 cigars to Californians serving in the National Guard and deployed overseas as a thank-you gift through Operation Gratitude, the military support group.

My hat is off to Gov. Schwarzenegger and Assemblyman Ted Lieu. For once, our state government is doing the right thing. Our military soldiers are protecting our freedom and many of them are giving their lives for us. This is the least we could do for them! I just can't believe we have to go to this extent to honor our soldiers service to our country. But that's America.