From celebrating Harvey Milk to banning the sale of laughing gas to kids, California will change in hundreds of ways with legislation signed Sunday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger, citing progress in water negotiations, lifted a veto threat over much of this year's legislation and signed 478 of the 707 bills on his desk before Sunday's midnight deadline.
Never before has a governor signed fewer bills 632, counting measures acted upon earlier this year. Schwarzenegger also holds the three previous lowest totals, according to Peter Detwiler of the Senate Local Government Committee.
After vetoing similar legislation last year, Schwarzenegger approved Senate Bill 572, creating a yearly "day of special significance" honoring the birthday of Milk, a former San Francisco county supervisor and gay-rights pioneer.
Milk was the nation's first openly gay man elected to public office in a major city. His life was depicted last year in an Academy Award-winning movie, "Milk," and he was inducted posthumously into the California Hall of Fame.
Milk served less than one year on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors before he was fatally shot along with Mayor George Moscone by colleague Dan White inside San Francisco City Hall in November 1978.
"He is a role model to millions, and this legislation will help ensure his legacy lives on forever," said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, a nonprofit group promoting same-sex rights.
Schools and government offices will remain open each year during Harvey Milk Day, May 22, which will not be a state holiday. Schools will be encouraged to conduct "suitable commemorative exercises."
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