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Political Landscape: Brown sifting through last-minute bills

September 25, 2011|By Mark Kellam, mark.kellam@latimes.com

Gov. Jerry Brown is currently going through a massive number of bills that were approved by the Legislature at the last minute before lawmakers went into recess until January.

One bill awaiting Brown’s signature would require the California Energy Commission to explore the possibility of generating green electricity from passing cars, trucks and trains.

The legislation, written by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake), centers on what’s called piezoelectric technology. It involves sensors placed under a roadway and the vibrations produced by vehicles that are converted into electricity.

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Gatto said this technology is already being used in other countries.

A Japanese railway company installed sensors under the floor in its Tokyo train station and uses the energy generated by pedestrians to power all of the displays in the station, he said. There are also sensors under some highways in Israel.

“Thirty years ago, who would have believed that black silicon panels left in the desert could generate solar power,” Gatto said in a written statement. “And just 10 years ago, people were incredulous when you described a Bluetooth device. This technology is very real, and it merits study.”

The measure passed the Senate with a 27-9 vote and then passed the Assembly with amendments, 56-21.

A controversial piece of legislation making it a crime to openly carry an unloaded handgun in public places also is on Brown’s desk.

The bill, written by Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), squeaked by the Senate with a 21-18 vote. It later passed the Assembly with a few changes with a 48-30 vote.

California is one of many states that allows so-called “open carry,” which gives gun owners the right to display weapons, though the guns must be unloaded, Portantino said.

Carrying loaded firearms in public is illegal in the state.

The open-carry practice came to a head last year when gun enthusiasts were entering coffee shops and public beaches with unloaded firearms strapped to their hips.

Portantino said the law would shield law enforcement personnel who come upon tense situations where they don’t know if a gun is loaded or not.

The California film tax incentive program would be extended by only one year in a bill that’s awaiting Brown’s consideration.

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