California Governor Vetoes Local Cell Tower Bill

Large telecom companies have been aggressive in pushing state and local governments to authorize the installation of thousands of new cell phone towers without stopping to consider the potential health and environmental impacts on local residents. For example, we recently discussed efforts by California state legislators to strip local governments of their (already limited) power to regulate the placement of wireless antennas within their borders. Senate Bill 649 would have largely eliminated local oversight and public input into the placement of cell phone towers in public rights of way, such as traffic signals and streetlights, despite mounting scientific evidence that the electromagnetic radiation from these antennas can lead to serious health problems–including cancer.

Fortunately, California Gov. Jerry Brown was not as quick as the state legislature to compromise public health just to appease the telecom industry. On October 15, Brown formally vetoed SB 649. In a brief message to the California Senate, the governor said that while he understood the “real value” in promoting the ongoing deployment of wireless technology, the “interest in which localities have in managing rights of way requires a more balanced solution than the one achieved in this bill.”

Brown’s veto will likely kill SB 649. Under California’s constitution, it takes a two-thirds vote in each house of the legislature to override a veto. SB 649 did not achieve two-thirds support during its initial passage. In fact, the California Assembly’s final vote on passage was 46-16–but this excludes 18 members who did not participate. Similarly, in the 40-member California Senate, there were only 22 votes in favor of passage, which is short of the necessary two-thirds.

The reality is that SB 649 is a deeply unpopular measure. According to Scientists for Wired Technology (SWT), more than 47 California counties and 300 cities opposed SB 649–while none supported it. SWT also noted there was little time to properly consider the full scope of SB 649, as a number were added at the last minute at the behest of major telecom companies and their lobbyists. Legislative committees also afforded citizens’ groups and other opponents little time to present testimony against the measure.

Have You Been Harmed by Cell Phone Radiation Exposure?

Hopefully, Governor Brown’s veto will encourage legislators–not only in California but throughout the country–to be in less of a rush to do the telecom industry’s bidding when it comes to the unchecked expansion of potentially dangerous cell towers in our neighborhoods. And if you or a loved one is suffering from serious health problems that you believe is connected to electromagnetic radiation exposure, you should speak with the cell phone cancer lawyers at Frasier, Frasier & Hickman, LLP. Call us today at (800) 522-4049 or contact us online to schedule a consultation so we can sit down and learn more about your situation.

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