Gov. Brown signs bills on transit projects, bribery, tax breaks

Gov. Brown signs bill requiring more transparency from L.A. County transportation officials

Gov. Jerry Brown signed bills Friday to shine more sunlight on Los Angeles County transportation projects, extend the time for prosecuting bribery cases and authorize a possible tax break for a major aerospace company in California.

In all, Brown signed 21 pieces of legislation, including the transportation bill by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) that requires L.A. County transportation officials to provide more transparency on the costs and schedules of projects funded by Measure R if an extension is sought.

In 2008, county voters approved Measure R, a 0.5% increase in the county sales tax for 30 years to provide $40 billion for transportation projects, but officials have blamed the poor economy in saying now that only $36 billion will be raised.

A proposed extension of the measure failed to win approval of county voters in 2012. The bill requires that the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority, before it can ask voters for another extension of Measure R, to provide the public with an amended plan for all 18 projects, including updated cost estimates and schedules for each one.

Hernandez said he introduced SB 1037 because faulty cost estimates and secrecy shrouding them have some areas of the county worried that they will be shortchanged.

"L.A. County voters are subjected to the worst traffic in the nation, and are willing to tax themselves to help address the problem," Hernandez said in a statement. "They deserve transparency.”

Hernandez said his bill will help by "providing the most current and comprehensive information on where tax money will go before voters are asked to decide whether to increase or extend another transportation tax."

Brown also signed SB 950, which extends the statute of limitations for prosecuting public bribery cases from three years after the occurrence of a bribe to three years after the bribe is discovered. State Sen. Norma Torres (D-Pomona) introduced the bill in response to problems encountered by prosecutors in the Colonies bribery case in San Bernardino County.

“When public officials act irresponsibly and accept bribes in exchange for large public payouts, it is the taxpayers who end up footing the bill,” Torres said in arguing for a longer period to prosecute cases.

The governor also approved a bill that provides a tax break of almost half a billion dollars to Northrop Grumman Corp. if it wins an Air Force contract to build new bombers and the aircraft are built in California. The incentive in SB 718 by Sen. Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside)  is similar to one offered in earlier legislation to the partnership of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

Another bill signed by Brown prohibits Internet businesses from charging a fee to people who have been arrested in exchange for removing their booking photos from a website. Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced SB 1027.

Brown also signed AB 1825 by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks), which extends, from 2015 to 2025, subpoena powers and other authority for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Office of Inspector General.

Marc Lifsher contributed to this report

Twitter: @mcgreevy99

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