With the annual deadline for signing legislation upon Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday, local state lawmakers this week claimed success in seeing several of their proposals become law.
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), in his final legislative session before being forced out by term limits, saw seven of his measures reach the governor's desk and launched a withering state audit of the California Department of Transportation.
On Sept. 23 Brown signed AB 1650, the windstorm-inspired bill that requires utilities to develop emergency disaster-preparedness plans every two years and to hold preparedness meetings with the counties and cities they serve. Portantino introduced the bill as Southern California Edison faced criticism for its slow response and poor public outreach after hurricane-force winds downed trees and caused power outages around the region in late November and early December.
“This will provide a measurable benefit to La Cañada and all those communities affected by the windstorm,” Portantino said.
Brown also signed a Portantino bill requiring healthcare plans to provide mammograms upon referral. Portantino said he first drafted the measure after he was approached by several women at the post office in La Cañada who were alarmed by the number of young women in the area who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
On Friday, Brown signed a Portantino bill that bans Californians from openly carrying rifles and shotguns in cities, a companion to a previous Portantino law on handguns that drew demonstrations from gun-control foes.
Portantino also launched the California state auditor study that in August showed Caltrans mismanaged nearly 500 homes and other properties in Los Angeles, South Pasadena and Pasadena. Caltrans originally acquired the homes for a planned connector between the Long Beach (710) and Foothill (210) freeways.
State Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) had nine bills up for Brown's signature this month, including legislation directing Caltrans to sell the state-owned homes along the proposed 710 route.
If it becomes law, SB 204 would invest 25% of sale proceeds into construction of sound walls along the 210 and earmark the rest for transportation improvements in the area.
Caltrans and other state agencies have lobbied Brown to veto the bill.
Three child welfare bills sponsored by Liu and signed by Brown increase services and housing options for foster youth and give judges greater power to order preventive services to keep children out of foster care.
Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) had eight bills signed before the weekend.
One Gatto bill removes barriers for the development of renewable natural gas, which will encourage development of the industry and is projected to save local residents millions of dollars on their utility bills, the assemblyman said.
The measure, he said, “will affect every single one of my constituents by keeping utility rates low,” Gatto said.
Brown also signed Gatto bills allowing motorists to show proof of auto insurance on their cellphones; requiring that 60% of water used in new car washes come from recycled sources; and legalizing the sale of homemade, “non-potentially hazardous” foods, such as breads, dry-roasted nuts, cookies and fruit preserves.
Assemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park), whose district includes San Marino, proposed changes to state water policy and a requirement for charter schools to participate in the federally funded school lunch program. Brown vetoed Eng's charter school meals bill Saturday.
“I am reluctant to erode the independence and flexibility that have well served the families and teachers who choose charter schools,” Brown wrote in his veto message.
Brown signed legislation that declares access to safe and affordable drinking water a basic human right in California, but vetoed Eng's bill to relax state control over local funding for groundwater cleanup efforts.
In his veto message, Brown wrote that he supported the bill's intent but opposed “cumbersome and inefficient” requirements tacked on to Eng's bill by a state Senate policy committee. Eng, who like Portantino terms out of the Assembly this year, said he would lobby area lawmakers to reintroduce the bill next year.
An Eng bill that would have analyzed impacts of state tax breaks prior to next year's budget deliberations was vetoed Friday.
“Legislators are always counting on more money than comes in, and we shouldn't continue to give tax breaks that don't do what we thought they were going to do. It's just good government,” Eng said.
In his veto message, Brown said the information Eng is seeking can be made available by the Legislative Analyst's Office without the new legislation.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times