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One of the perks of serving in the California Legislature is naming highways, bridges, interchanges and other public facilities - often for fellow politicians - and there are hundreds of such signs on the state's highways.

Chris Norby, a Republican assemblyman from Orange County, faced an uphill battle, therefore, in proposing a two-year moratorium on such namings so, he said, tighter guidelines could be developed.

Norby introduced his measure, Assembly Bill 595, last year but it languished in the Assembly Transportation Committee until this week, when it was taken up because of a looming deadline for action.

Norby made his pitch to his fellow committee members, citing costs and confusion from the welter of special signs. (The Caltrans website has a 246-page listing of named highways, bridges and tunnels.) He even gained support from the National Organization for Women, pointing out that just two percent of the official namings are for women, terming it "extreme gender disparity."

But he garnered opposition from the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, whose lobbyist, Aaron Read, said it would preclude honoring CHP officers killed in the line of duty.

Norby offered to exempt bills honoring CHP officers from the moratorium and make it a one-year moratorium, saying that made the measure "pretty watered down." Even so, it attracted just five votes, well shy of the eight required for committee approval.

Updated at 1:01 p.m. with website of named highways, etc.


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