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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to sign a bill Friday establishing March 30 as "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day" despite vetoing an identical proposal two weeks ago because he said lawmakers hadn't delivered major deals on water, prisons and renewable energy nor confirmed his priority appointments.

"This bill does nothing to address any of these issues," Schwarzenegger said in his Sept. 8 veto message. "I look forward to considering this measure when these other major issues are addressed."

Two weeks later and with the end of regular session behind us, lawmakers haven't delivered the major deals on water, prisons and renewable energy that the governor wanted. And the Senate hasn't confirmed some of his priority appointments.

But Schwarzenegger now plans to sign the new version of the bill by Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, in a ceremony at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms on Friday, spokesman Aaron McLear announced today. Cook is a Vietnam veteran and a retired Marine Corps colonel whose actions earned him a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. He lobbied heavily and met with Schwarzenegger to ensure his bill would not die this year.

Asked numerous times Tuesday what has changed in two weeks, McLear said simply, "He thinks it's worth signing."

McLear was coy about the governor's treatment of several hundred other bills he must consider by Oct. 11. Schwarzenegger may still use them as leverage in ongoing negotiations.

"There's hundreds of other bills he has not taken action on," McLear said. "Right now he believes the Legislature ought to be focused on solving the water crisis."

Friday's event on the Vietnam veterans bill provides a fine segue into his evening appearance at the California Republican Party convention.

Schwarzenegger also held a signing ceremony today in the Capitol to restore Healthy Families low-cost medical insurance for 670,000 children. The program was threatened when the governor cut Healthy Families spending in the July budget revision as a way to build up the state's reserve. Schwarzenegger at the time suggested he had no choice because lawmakers fell short in passing all components of the state budget deal.

That makes two Schwarzenegger signing ceremonies this week to celebrate reversing two of Schwarzenegger's own vetoes.


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