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September 7, 2002
(ORANGE COUNTY, CA.) -- Citing quality-of-life and basic freedoms as the guiding principles behind his legislative proposals, state Assembly candidate William R. "Bill" Orton (D-Seal Beach) outlined the first ten bills he would submit this December.
"As a member of the majority party, I stand a pretty good chance of getting legislation passed," said Orton, "so I'd like people to know what my legislative agenda would be."
Orton would hand in ten bills when lawmakers are sworn in to office in the beginning of December, following the election.
Lawmakers typically carry between 15 to 20 bills each year, many on behalf of constituents or the cities in the lawmaker's district.
ASSEMBLY BILL 1
"I've asked the Speaker to hold Assembly Bill 1 for the California Religious Freedoms Restoration Act," said Orton.
The proposed AB 1, known as CalRIFRA (pronounced RIFF-ra), would require "reasonable accommodation" in the workplace for individuals who use break time to pray or to allow workers to use unpaid personal time to participate in acts of faith, like charitable good works or a pilgrimage.
"No one should fear losing their job or being unfairly disciplined just because they take an extended unpaid lunch to do a charitable good deed that is an act of their faith."
The need for the bill, says Orton, comes from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a similar law at the federal level.
"The Supreme Court ruled that this is not a federal issue," said Orton, "so CalRIFRA would be the right way to guarantee reasonable accommodation for people to abide by their faith in their daily lives."
So long as it doesn't interfere with the workplace, a person should be able to wear a yarmulke or quietly pray at their desk or go to an employee lounge area to unroll a prayer rug and face Mecca to pray.
"Religion is a force for good in society," said Orton, an agnostic who volunteers each week delivering food to homeless children at the Mary McLeod Bethune School.
Orton says CalRIFRA is one of a series of "freedom" bills he would submit as a lawmaker. Orton will also seek to strengthen freedom of speech and the press and widen access by the public to government information.
FILLING OUT TOP 10 LIST
The remaining bills submitted in December, says Orton, would be "quality of life" or "stewardship" measures:
Orton, who has spent seven years as an aide in the state Assembly, has drafted legislation before, on subjects that range from protecting the American Flag, how Native American tribes are designated and safeguarding the defense industry.
But for the list above, Orton says he will do like most lawmakers and turn to a gathering of 80 lawyers who work in an obscure-but-essential agency known as the Office of the Legislative Counsel. It is this bank of lawyers who actually research and draft bills, based on ideas submitted by the lawmakers.
For more on Bill Orton's campaign, call the candidate at (562) 598-9630 or visit http://billyorton.com.
For more information, write an email message directly to Bill.