Lawmakers get back to work | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lawmakers get back to work

Susan Wood

It’s a new day in Sacramento. Two California veteran lawmakers representing the Lake Tahoe constituency appear eager to hit the ground running over the next two years.

In the case of Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, he has no choice. Limits on service will term him out in two years. Therefore, he wants to make the most of his time.

His final term began Monday, along with his colleagues from the Senate and Assembly.

Between the Assembly and Senate, Leslie has served the state for 18 years.

“They’re calling me dean now,” Leslie said just an hour before the swearing-in ceremony noon Monday. The assemblyman added he planned to take a picture of his first swearing in with his family to the floor Monday to remind him of who he’s working for.

Leslie has a wish list – with one large priority affecting the lake.

“One thing I want to accomplish relative to Lake Tahoe is to carry out the fire services plan. I want to see that tremendous effort to its conclusion,” he said, referring to the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. The state-federal cooperative initiative signed into law by President Bush a year ago this month has prioritized reducing wildfire danger by cleaning up debris and cutting dying trees that serve as fuel.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention is due to approve the plan and take it to the federal government for funding – perhaps a bigger hurdle in Leslie’s eyes.

“We’re hearing the ‘ABC’ mentality in Washington – anywhere but California,” he said, concerned the western state will play second fiddle up to the partisan machine known as The District, Washington, D.C.

“It’s time for the federal government to fund the work to be done,” he said.

As for Sacramento, state lawmakers are expected to see bills reintroduced that were either voted down in the last session or vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

For example, Leslie predicts a bill to allow illegal immigrant drivers to apply for a driver’s license will return to the floor. He would vote against such an effort.

“But if there were a federal program, I might support that. Then, you know who they are. We need to put some common sense back into governing,” he said.

In addition, Leslie joined his counterpart – Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, in pledging to vote against another effort to push through hiking the minimum wage to $7.75 an hour.

Cox’s press secretary, Peter Demarco, said the senator agrees with Leslie on the state deserving laws that bring about common sense to governing.

“He doesn’t support the minimum wage increase. The fact is, California has the highest (at $7.25), and the hike would be another burden on small business – particularly in resort communities,” Demarco said. “We need to improve our economy – particularly in the tourism industry. He’ll continue to work with the governor to help strengthen it.”

Demarco was unsure when Cox would come to the lake, but he said it would be “sooner rather than later.”

Cox was first elected to the State Assembly in November 1998. The voters returned him to the Assembly in 2000 and again in 2002 for his third term.

Prior to public office, Cox served for six years on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.

He and his wife, Maggie, raised three children.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com


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