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84254614JJ004_ALLI_DEW_TOUR.JPGTed Gaines and Roger Niello, two Republican assemblymen who are special election rivals for the late Sen. Dave Cox's seat, clashed on the Assembly floor today over a bill that would require kids to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding.

The 1st Senate District in which they are running contains the largest single concentration of the state's ski slopes and the ski industry has endorsed the measure, Senate Bill 880, which would require helmets for those 17 years old and younger.

Gaines, of Roseville, spoke for and joined most Democrats in voting for the measure, Senate Bill 880, while Niello, of Fair Oaks, denounced and joined other Republicans in voting against it. The final vote was 41-20, returning the measure, authored by Democratic Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco, to the Senate for final action.

The two are rivals in a Nov. 2 special election to fill the seat of Cox, who died last month. If no one receives an outright majority, the top Republican vote-getter will face a Democratic candidate in a Jan. 4 runoff.

The district has a strong Republican registration and former Assemblywoman Barbara Alby is also weighing whether to enter the race. Ken Cooley, the mayor of Rancho Cordova, is likely to be the Democratic candidate in the runoff, if one occurs.

PHOTO CREDIT: Shaun White competes during the snowboard slopestyle portion of the Alli Dew Tour on Feb. 20, 2009, at Northstar Resort in Truckee. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/ Getty Images)



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