A two-year funding bill authorizing the State Bar
to collect up to $390 from most active lawyers in 2002 and 2003 was
approved last month by the Assembly and was headed to the governor's
desk for his signature. The bar has been lobbying hard for a
multi-year funding bill in order to facilitate long-range planning.
There was no debate on the measure, SB 352, which
passed by a vote of 47-22.
It earlier sailed through the Assembly Judiciary
Committee on a unanimous 10-0 vote, the first unanimous vote in favor
of a bar fee bill by any legislative body since 1995.
The committee also approved SB 479, a measure to
create an attorney diversion and assistance program within the bar, by
a 7-2 vote. All seven committee Democrats voted for the bill, SB 479,
sponsored by Sen. John Burton, D-San Francisco.
The diversion bill had not been voted on by the
full house at press time.
In committee, Robert Pacheco, R-Riverside, and
Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, voted against the bill, which
earmarks $10 of dues money for a program to assist alcoholic or
drug-addicted attorneys. Pacheco expressed general support for the
concept of the program but was concerned about the special fee and its
potential implications for a return to the days of expanded bar
The state Senate approved both the fee bill and
the diversion measure in May. They are double-joined, meaning one
cannot take effect without the other.