Political Landscape: Governor rules on last-minute bills

Gov. Jerry Brown signed several pieces of legislation by local lawmakers just before the Oct. 9 deadline, including a controversial firearm bill, but vetoed others, such as one designed to put more rapists behind bars.

The new firearm law authored by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) makes it illegal to carry an unloaded gun in public.

A violation is a misdemeanor and carries a penalty of one year in jail, up to a $1,000 fine or both.

The measure was supported by the California Police Chiefs Assn. and the Peace Officers Research Assn. of California.

Another new law authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) makes it easier for homeowners to install water-recycling systems, which allow reuse of water for taking a shower or watering a lawn.

Homeowners previously faced a confusing hodgepodge of regulations across the state, and building inspectors prohibited installation of so-called gray water systems.

Another piece of Gatto’s legislation that was signed — Assembly Bill 529 — gives cities the option to round down their speed limits within a certain range after a traffic survey. State law was changed in 2004 requiring cities to round up speed limits, which some drivers took as permission to drive even faster, Gatto said.

Brown also signed Senate Bill 43, authored by Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), which streamlines the process for people in need to gain job experience and receive federal food stamps under the state’s Calfresh program.

But Brown did veto some legislation penned by Gatto and Portantino.

He turned down Assembly Bill 306 by Gatto that would have required the California Energy Commission to the explore the possibility of generating green electricity from passing cars, trucks and trains. Other countries have used the technology where sensors are placed under a roadway and the vibrations produced by vehicles are converted into electricity.

“The Legislature, by requiring the funding of this specific technology, is bypassing the independent and careful process of the Energy Commission. I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Brown said in his veto message.

Brown also returned another Gatto bill, Assembly Bill 1034, which would have required charter schools to keep track of student demographics and report them to the chartering authority at least six months before a renewal application.

Gatto argued that some charter schools are creating admission standards designed to allow in only the most “desirable” students.

Brown said charter schools need to have the flexibility to establish administration standards and parent involvement practices that are consistent with each school’s mission.

A bill aimed at catching more rapists also did not get Brown’s signature.

Written by Portantino, Assembly Bill 322, would have established a 2 1/2 year pilot project to test all rape kits in counties where arrests are made in fewer than 12% of rapes reported.

Brown said the measure would have affected 10 counties, but he pointed out that the counties don’t want to take part in the program.

“I don’t see why we would mandate counties to participate in a program they don’t want, especially when the state is cutting back on so many programs that are needed and wanted,” he wrote.

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