Legislators praise their bills

With the deadline for signing legislation into law upon Gov. Jerry Brown, local state lawmakers this week were able to claim early success in getting their own bills past his desk.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) had eight bills signed before the weekend, with another three still awaiting consideration as of Friday.

Three of his measures were signed in early September, well before the deadline the governor has to sign legislation, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

One of Gatto's bills that got a lot of attention requires major-league sports venues to clearly post numbers that fans can call or text for security.

Gatto said posting the contact numbers will enable incidents to be resolved more quickly, before a victim is seriously injured.

He wrote AB 2464 following violent incidents across the state, including the 2011 beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium.

But the final version of the bill changed substantially during the legislative process.

“We had to make some compromises,” Gatto said.

One provision that would have created a list of offenders banned from returning to major sports venues was dropped due to what Gatto said was a misunderstanding among lawmakers over what the program would entail.

The legislation also had a component that would have established a rewards fund to which major league teams would have had to contribute, but that too was dropped.

“The teams have powerful lobbyists,” Gatto said.

Another big piece of Gatto legislation signed into law removes barriers for the development of renewable natural gas, which will save local residents millions of dollars on their utility bills, the Assemblyman said.

He added that he likes to write legislation that affects as many people in his district as possible — and AB 1900 is a good example.

“It will affect every single one of my constituents by keeping utility rates low,” Gatto said.

The law creates an industry for producing biogas, which is a low-carbon fuel derived from landfills, sanitation facilities and agricultural operations, such as dairies.

Other pieces of Gatto's legislation that were signed by Brown were a measure that allows motorists to show proof of auto insurance on their cellphones; a bill that requires 60% of water used in new car washes come from recycled sources; and legislation that keeps seniors and others from having their checking accounts drained by making it clear that money in bank accounts with more than one signer belongs to each person based on their contributions.

Another law written by Gatto that received plenty of attention legalized the sale of homemade, “non-potentially hazardous” foods, such as breads, tortillas, dry roasted nuts, cookies, granola and fruit preserves.

State Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) had nine bills up for Brown's signature this month, including legislation directing the California Department of Transportation to sell the 499 state-owned homes along the route of the proposed Long Beach (710) Freeway extension.

Liu's Senate Bill 204 would invest 25% of home sale proceeds into construction of sound walls along the Foothill (210) Freeway and earmark the rest for transportation improvements in the area.

Officials could not tap those funds to advance controversial proposals for a tunnel connecting the Long Beach (710) and 210 freeways, according to the bill.

Caltrans and the state Business, Transportation & Housing Agency lobbied Brown to veto the bill.

Liu called on those agencies to begin negotiating a home-sales agreement with tenants and officials in Pasadena, South Pasadena and Los Angeles.

“I believe we would have the two-thirds votes necessary [in the Assembly and Senate] to pass urgency legislation implementing the agreement,” Lui said in a statement. “Everyone is anxious to get Caltrans out of the landlord business, including Caltrans.”

Other bills by Liu would remove a mandate for cash-strapped public libraries to maintain central reference systems that have been replaced by digital databases and several juvenile court and child welfare agency reforms.

Three child welfare bills signed by Brown increase services and housing options for foster youth and give judges greater power to order preventive services to keep kids out of foster care.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) introduced 15 pieces of legislation this session, and launched a state audit of Caltrans that had a resounding impact when it hit in August.

Eight Portantino measures, including one calling for greater transparency in the Assembly budgeting process, died in committee or otherwise did not make it to the governor's desk.

But two that Portantino thought would have great impact locally have been signed by the governor.

Among them, AB 1650, the windstorm-inspired bill that requires utilities to develop emergency disaster preparedness plans every two years, and to hold comprehensive preparedness meetings with the counties and cities they service. Portantino introduced the bill as Southern California Edison faced withering 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 AB 137, a Portantino bill requiring healthcare plans to provide mammograms upon referral.

Portantino also launched the California State Auditor study that showed Caltrans mismanaged and neglected nearly 500 homes and other properties in Los Angeles, South Pasadena and Pasadena. The California State Auditor determined Caltrans had wasted millions of dollars in managing the properties originally acquired for a freeway connecting the 710 and 210 freeways in Pasadena.




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