Schwarzenegger Signs Nine Bills Aiding Military

Some husbands and wives of California troops coming back from combat will be able to take unpaid 10-day leaves from their jobs to spend time with their spouses under legislation Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Tuesday.

Schwarzenegger also signed measures that will help military members enroll in community college and California State University classes, vote by absentee ballot and protect them from extravagant loan interest rates and deceptive financial services pitches.

Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, said his 10-day leave bill will give members of the military and their families "decompression time" before they face the possibility of being shipped out again to Iraq, Afghanistan or another combat zone.

The bill applies to military spouses who work at least 20 hours a week for employers with at least 25 employees.

Other bills signed by Schwarzenegger will:

- Give enrollment priority to members of the military at California State University and California community colleges. The bill asks the more independent University of California to give veterans the same benefit.

- Allow military personnel from other states who are stationed in California and taking graduate courses at California State University to pay the same lower in-state tuition fees as California residents for two years.

- Allow the state Department of Corporations to enforce federal restrictions that cap interest rates at 36 percent on consumer loans to military members, and in effect banning controversial payday loans to military members by barring the use of postdated checks to secure those loans.

- Bar lenders from using deceptive advertising or names that suggest they are affiliated with the military.

- Make it a crime for someone to falsely claim they have been awarded a military medal.

- Allow California National Guard members to enroll in the Public Employees Retirement System.

- Enable residents called to military service in the last days before an election to apply for an absentee ballot and vote by fax.


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