Political landscape

Local lawmakers offer handful among abundance of proposed bills

September 22, 2010

State lawmakers have placed more than 700 bills before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign, reject or let pass into law unsigned by Sept. 30, and 28 of them come from lawmakers representing Glendale and Burbank.

The most prolific local lawmaker is Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D - La Cañada Flintridge), who has 17 bills before the governor. State Sen. Carol Liu (D - Glendale) has seven under consideration. Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D - Silver Lake), —sworn in two months before the deadline for new legislation—has four.

Portantino's effort to launch a California cord blood bank, inspired by the case of a La Cañada Flintridge neighbor who beat leukemia with the help of donated umbilical cord blood, was revived after stalling in the Senate. It now awaits action by the governor.


Other Portantino bills would allow supermarkets and retailers to buy licenses to offer tastings of wine or alcohol; encourage teens to call in cases of alcohol abuse without risking arrest; make it easier for college students to seek available federal financial aid; require health insurers to cover mammograms for women of all ages; and offer insurance breaks to victims of the Station fire.

The Station fire bill gained momentum when Portantino worked with Republicans representing other regions struck by disaster in 2009.

"I try to work in a bipartisan manner with my colleagues," Portantino said. "I'm pleased I've been successful so far and am hopeful the governor will respect and respond to that effort."

Liu said she has cut back on the number of bills she introduced, recalling her days in the state Assembly that lawmakers once averaged as many as 20 bills each year.

"The last couple of years, because of budget considerations, we've made a conscious effort to not introduce a lot of measures," she said.

Her inspiration for legislation comes from her interest in education and her role as chair of the Senate Human Services Committee, she added.

Liu described spending a night in Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla several years ago, where she learned many were in prison for non-violent offenses, and many were mothers.

"So who's caring for the children?" Liu asked.

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