Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Transducers viewed as green energy source



By Kevin Smith, SGVN, kevin.smith@sgvn.com
Twitter.com/sgvnbiz
Posted:   12/18/2012 07:24:13 PM PST
Updated:   12/19/2012 10:19:05 AM PST

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE

Traffic.

It's long been the bane of Southland commuters, many of whom must drive long distances to and from work each day. But what if you could harness all of that road surface vibration to produce green electricity?

That's what Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, hopes to do - and he's found an ally in the California Energy Commission. Building on an idea of Gatto's, the commission has announced that it will fund preliminary research on the potential of using the state's roadways to generate green electricity.

The research will focus on the potential of implanting small, round piezoelectric transducers - each a little smaller than a quarter - beneath the pavement of roadways.

"You would embed them about 10 inches down," said Gatto, whose 43rd Assembly District includes La Canada Flintridge. "If you've ever stood in a parking garage at a mall you can feel all of that vibration. Well, these transducers would gather that energy and it would be collected at a central source."

The vibrations would then be converted into electricity that could power roadside lights, call boxes and even neighboring communities.

The research stems from Assembly Bill 360, which Gatto authored. The measure was approved by the state Legislature in 2011 but vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown because of a lack of funding for the project.

Brown encouraged Gatto to work through the California Energy Commission's grantprocess to get the funding, however, and that has finally panned out.

"We don't know how much the funding will be yet, but this isn't one of those experiments that will cost millions of dollars," Gatto said. "First we have to collect the available studies. We sometimes try to remake the wheel, but we need to look at the existing scientific data on this."

Michael Gravely, a deputy division chief for the California Energy Commission's research and development division, said all the research, lab work and field testing that has been done on the subject is currently being compiled for evaluation.

"We'll look to see if it's cost-effective in relation to other renewable technologies," he said. "This contract is about a $95,000 research effort and it will tell us if we should move on to the next step."

Piezoelectric materials are currently used in everything from lighters to smartphones.

The energy commission is expected to complete its initial research on the technology by the end of January. Then it will determine if a small-scale-test project will be conducted by the state.

Gatto said Tokyo, Japan is already using a similar idea in its subway system.

"They put them in, not for the transportation, but for the humans who are stomping as they run for the subways," he said. "The European Union is putting some of these underneath their roads and Israel already has a road that is producing power."

The East Japan Railway Company installed piezoelectric flooring in their Tokyo railway station in 2009 and the energy generated by passing pedestrians powers all the displays in the station.

More recently, Italy has signed a contract to place the technology under a stretch of the Venice-to-Trieste Autostrada, and a dance club in San Francisco has piloted the technology under their dance floor to run their lighting. Then-Mayor Gavin Newsom also worked on piloting the technology in pedestrian walkways in downtown San Francisco.

Gatto chairs the Assembly's appropriations committee.

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You can read this article and more at the Pasadena Star News HERE

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.   www.asm.ca.gov/gatto  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Motorists Reminded to Prepare for New Laws



MONDAY, 17 DECEMBER 2012  California Highway Patrol Press Release

New rules that govern the California driving public will go in effect on Jan. 1, 2013, and the California Highway Patrol is urging motorists to prepare for the changes.

These rules are the product of legislation passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2012.

“The changes to California’s traffic safety laws are designed to protect the motoring public,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Citizens are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these new laws in advance of the new year. Adhering to the rules of the road may save your life, or the lives of your fellow motorists.”

The following are summaries of some of the new laws taking effect January 1, 2013:

Driving under the influence (AB 2020, Pan): The law no longer allows a person who has been arrested and is suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs the option of a urine test. Prior to this change, a person had the option of submitting either urine or blood to determine the drug content of their blood.

Charter-party carriers of passengers; alcoholic beverages, open containers (AB 45, Chesbro): This new law prohibits underage drinking in charter-party carriers (limos, buses, etc.) and makes the carrier and driver responsible for communicating this to their passengers. The law also requires a designee, who is at least 25 years of age, to be present whenever there are passengers who are under 21 years of age on board the vehicle and alcohol is being transported. The designee shall be responsible for ensuring the rules are followed, and the safety of the underage passengers throughout the duration of the trip.

Electronic wireless communications (AB 1536, Miller): This law allows California drivers to use hands-free technology to talk and text while driving. This will require the use of a device that is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send or listen to a text-based communication. The device is required to also be used in a voice-operated, hands-free manner to be in compliance with the law.

Financial responsibility and insurance (AB 1708, Gatto): Drivers will now have the option of providing proof of insurance and registration on an electronic device (smartphone, tablet, etc.) when it is requested by law enforcement.

High occupancy toll lanes (AB 2405, Blumenfield): This law creates the Choose Clean Cars Act, which allows cars with a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker free access to carpool lanes that are converted to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.

Autonomous vehicles (SB 1298, Padilla): This new law allows driverless cars to be operated on public roads for testing purposes, provided that each vehicle has a fully licensed and bonded operator in the driver’s seat to take control if necessary. The bill also instructs the Department of Motor Vehicles to adopt regulations that govern the licensing, bonding, testing and operation of autonomous vehicle technology.

Emergency services, seniors (SB 1047, Alquist): Similar to an AMBER Alert, the CHP would activate a “Silver Alert” upon request if a person, age 65 or older, is reported missing to a law enforcement agency and that agency determines that certain criteria is met. The criteria includes: the person is missing under unexplained or suspicious circumstances or the law enforcement agency believes the person is in danger due to age, health, mental or physical disability, environment or weather conditions; the person is in the company of a potentially dangerous person; or there are other factors indicating that the person may be in peril. Finally, there is information available, if given to the public, may assist in the safe recovery of the missing person.

Driver license (AB 2189, Cedillo): This law allows a driver’s license applicant who provides satisfactory proof that his or her presence in the United States is authorized under federal law, but who is not eligible for a Social Security account number, is eligible to receive an original driver's license if he or she meets all other qualifications for licensure.

Automated traffic enforcement systems (SB 1303, Simitian): This new law establishes consistency in the operations of red-light enforcement cameras throughout the state by requiring governmental agencies to follow specified guidelines regarding intersections, signage, and the notice to appear.

License plates, obstruction or alteration (AB 2489, Hall): This new law prevents the altering and positioning of license plates from its original markings and clarifies the penalty imposed for obscuring the readability of license plates.

Child passenger restraints (AB 1452, Hill): Hospitals, clinics and birthing centers will now be required to provide and discuss contact information regarding child safety seat requirements, installation, and inspection to parents and caregivers upon discharge of a child, if the child is less than 8 years of age.


There also are two new laws related to recreational off-highway vehicles.

One (AB 1595, Cook) defines an off-highway motor vehicle to include a recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV) and establishes additional requirements governing its safe operation.

The other law (AB 1266, Cook), which goes into effect July 1, 2013, prohibits a passenger in an ROV from riding in a seat location not designed and provided by the manufacturer.

It also prohibits operation of the ROV if the passenger is not seated with both feet on the floorboard and able to grab the occupant handhold with the seat belt and shoulder belt or safety harness fastened.

Additional registration fees (AB 1404, Feuer): This law authorizes three counties (Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino) to increase vehicle registration fees to help fund vehicle theft programs. Increases would be from $1 to $2 for passenger vehicles, and $2 to $4 for commercial vehicles.

Inflatable restraint systems (AB 1854, Brownley): This law makes it illegal for a person to knowingly distribute or sell a previously deployed air bag or component that will no longer meet the original equipment form, function or proper operation.

Driving under the influence, alcoholic beverage or drug (AB 2552, Torres): Although this change in the law does not take effect until Jan. 1, 2014, it distinguishes whether an individual was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ultimately this change, singling out drugs with its own subsection in the Vehicle Code, will make it easier to track the prevalence of drugged driving in California. This new law, coupled with the efforts requiring the use of Ignition Interlock Devices, will help reduce impaired driving throughout California.

These points are only a synopsis of some of the new laws adopted.  For complete information on chaptered bills enacted in 2012, refer to the Legislative Counsel Web site at www.LegInfo.ca.gov.

# # #


Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.   www.asm.ca.gov/gatto  



PRESS RELEASE: Gatto Secures Funding for Cutting Edge Piezoelectricity Project



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  Contact: Justin Hager: (818) 558-3043
December 17, 2012                                                                                                   Cell: (415) 889-9762

Gatto Secures Funding for Cutting Edge Piezoelectricity Project

SACRAMENTO – After two years of work, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) has found a new partner in the fight for green transportation and domestically produced alternative energy.  Building on an idea of Gatto’s, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has announced that it will fund preliminary research on the potential of using California’s roadways to generate green electricity.

The research will focus on the large-scale energy-harvesting capabilities of piezoelectric materials, which are currently used in everything from lighters to smart phones.  The research stems from a bill authored by Gatto, AB 306, which passed the legislature in 2011 with bipartisan support but was vetoed by Governor Brown because of a lack of funding for the project.  In the veto message, the Governor encouraged Gatto to work through the CEC’s grant process to obtain funding for the project, and a year later, the assemblyman has successfully secured the funding.

“I am excited to see movement on this important research,” said Gatto. “California is the car capitol of the world.  Just think how much energy we could create if we can harness some of the wasted energy produced by cars and trucks as they rumble down the roads.”

The science of piezoelectric roads works as follows:   When a car or truck passes over pavement, the pavement vibrates.   By placing relatively inexpensive piezoelectric sensors underneath a road, the vibrations can be converted into electricity to power roadside lights, call boxes, and neighboring communities.  It may sound like something out of science fiction, but this technology has been used for years in sonar, and is used every day in touch-screen phones to convert pressure into electrical impulses.  There is no extra energy needed for the car to transverse piezoelectric highways, because the sensors are located in the pavement itself.

Several countries have experimented with a road-based version of piezoelectric technology, including Israel, which has already placed this technology under some of their highways.  In 2009, the East Japan Railway Company installed piezoelectric flooring in their Tokyo railway station.  The energy generated by passing pedestrians is sufficient to power all the displays in the station.  More recently, Italy has signed a contract to place the technology under a stretch of the Venice-to-Trieste Autostrada and a dance club in San Francisco has piloted the technology under their dance floor to run their lighting.  Then-Mayor Gavin Newsom worked on piloting the technology in pedestrian walkways in downtown San Francisco.

“Now, California can join the ranks of nations who are actively seeking uses for this exciting new technology,” said Gatto.  “Thirty years ago, very few people would have believed that black silicon panels left in the desert could generate ‘solar’ power.  And just ten years ago, people were skeptical when you described a Bluetooth device. This technology is very real.  I’m glad the state is taking steps to keep California on the cutting edge of energy policy and I’m very pleased the CEC has embraced the possibility.”

The Energy Commission should complete initial research on the technology by the end of January, 2013 and will determine, based on their findings, if a small-scale-test project will be conducted by the State.

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.   www.asm.ca.gov/gatto 

#  #  #

LISTEN IN: Assemblyman Mike Gatto hopes Article 5 can overturn Citizens United

LISTEN IN: Assemblyman Gatto talks about his efforts to overturn Citizens United on KPCC's Airtalk with Larry Mantle
AirTalk | 

video

Plenty of people were unhappy with the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizen’s United, which resulted in a constitutional amendment that allows corporations and unions the ability unlimited spending on political campaigns.  Even staunch Republican supporters had second thoughts after heavily funded super-PACS dominated campaign dollars in the last election.

But according to Los Angeles Assemblyman Michael Gatto, there is a way to reverse the decision, hidden in the constitution itself.  Article 5 directs Congress to call a convention for proposing Amendments to the constitution, if two-thirds of the states agree.  Any proposed amendment would then need to be ratified by three-quarters of the legislature. Gatto hopes this little-known corner the constitution could undo Citizens United. He’s introduced a resolution that he hopes will get the ball rolling in California, with other states to follow.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


Laird Monahan stands on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial next to a giant banner printed with the Preamble to the United States Constitution during a demonstration against the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling on the National Mall October 20, 2010 in Washington, DC.

Article 5 has never been used successfully, and constitutional law experts aren’t sure it’s a good idea.  The problem?  Once the constitutional convention has been called, it’s not clear that the proposals will be limited to just one - any number of amendments could be thrown in the mix. This process, they warn, could lead to open season on the Constitution, putting the First Amendment and other beloved protections up for grabs.

Is the use of Article 5 to stop Citizens United appropriate - or even feasible? Should California lead the way in this effort?  Or are we opening up a can of constitutional worms?

 Guests:

Michael Gatto, California Assemblyman for 43rd District,  representing the cities of Burbank, Glendale, and parts of Los Angeles including Los Feliz, North Hollywood, Silver Lake, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, and Van Nuys.

Justin Levitt, associate professor of law at Loyola Law School

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Leadership Opportunity: Are You a Local Business Owner?



Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) encourages local business owners to serve on his District 43 Business Advisory Commission. 

By Nicole Charky - December 11, 2012


There is an important invitation for business owners in Montrose, La Crescenta, Glendale, Burbank, La Canada Flintridge and Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) urges merchants to join the District 43 Business Advisory Commission.

The group will meet several times in the upcoming months to form one or more legislative proposals that Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) will introduce in 2013, according to a news release the representative.

Gatto is seeking applications from local business owners in his district, which includes Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

Gatto, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly, wants feedback from business leaders.

"We hear often that our business climate could be improved. I'm interested in hearing any proposal that would make the regulatory and statutory environment more sensible and less burdensome for local business owners," he said.

Last year, Assemblyman Gatto authored or co-authored several bills to support small businesses including AB 1616 (The California Homemade Food Act) and AB 2026 (The Film Industry Tax Credit).

“As lawmakers, we have a sacred duty to listen to the needs and concerns of those who help our communities thrive, and to do what we can to support them,” said Gatto.

Anyone interested in participating on the commission can email the assemblyman at Assemblymember.Gatto@assembly.ca.gov with the subject line 'Business Commission.’

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.   www.asm.ca.gov/gatto  

You can read this article and more at the Montrose-La Crescenta Patch HERE

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gatto Receives Legislator of the Year Award

BY CRAIG SHERWOOD ON DECEMBER 11, 2012 

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) was presented with the Legislator of the Year Award Tuesday night from the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas (CRNG), a not-for-profit group that represents renewable natural-gas producers throughout the country.  Renewable natural gas is an alternative, renewable energy, derived from the natural decomposition of waste from landfills and organic sources and is used to generate green electricity and clean transportation fuel.
“Mike Gatto is exactly the kind of legislator California needs right now,” said Harrison Clay, President of Clean Energy Renewable Fuels and founding board member of CRNG.  “He is a practical-problem solver who thinks about the long term. He is diligent, thorough and determined to do the right thing for California and its residents.”
The award was given to recognize Gatto’s work on renewable natural gas this year, including two bills he authored: AB 1900 and AB 2196. The bills helped to break down barriers to using this renewable fuel in California and helped clarify the fuel’s treatment under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards, which require all utilities in California to buy renewable energy.   The legislation was widely hailed for helping to create an entirely new clean-energy industry in California, and bringing jobs and infrastructure improvements in the process.  The new biogas industry will also help reduce California’s reliance on foreign energy sources.
Todd Campbell, former Mayor of Burbank, lauded Gatto’s achievements: “Assemblyman Gatto’s acumen to find solutions that drive job growth, promote environmental protections, cut waste, and to protect the average ratepayer was once again demonstrated.  The passage of AB 1900 was vital to removing barriers to in-state biomethane production, a clean and cost-effective renewable resource for state power generation and transportation.  Assemblyman Gatto’s efforts will save California businesses and consumers tens of millions of dollars and help us meet climate-change goals 30 years ahead of schedule.”
The award was presented at CRNG’s annual Fuel, Power and Policy Conference in San Diego.
# # #
  You can read this article and more at Burbank and Beyond by clicking HERE

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.   www.asm.ca.gov/gatto 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Jam on: California Homemade Food Act goes into effect in January


By Betty Hallock

December 10, 2012, 2:52 p.m.
As of Jan. 1, the California Homemade Food Act will go into effect, allowing people in Los Angeles to sell certain foods and baked goods they've made at home to stores, restaurants and directly to customers.

Among those people are Echo Park bread-baker-turned-activist Mark Stambler, who co-wrote the bill AB 1616, along with Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake), that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in September. Stambler's business of selling bread to local businesses was shut down in 2011 by the Los Angeles County Health Department after a story about his bread was published in the Los Angeles Times.

"Hopefully I'll be selling bread in the same shops I’d been banned from selling to a year and a half ago," says Stambler, who has a wood-fired bread oven in his backyard. "I've been spending most of my time making sure this legislation goes through. But I’ve continued to bake, giving it to family and friends. I want to continue to sell it, I just love baking bread."

Now the L.A. County Health Department is preparing to implement the law that allows aspiring food entrepreneurs to sell products such as breads, cookies, cakes, pies, jams, candy, granola, baking mixes, coffee, tea, honey, dried fruit and nuts, and other goods that don't include cream or meat -- without investing in a commercial kitchen or jumping through zoning compliance and other regulatory hoops.

The legislation still requires home producers to complete a food processor course, label products and, depending on where they're selling, undergo inspections and registrations with the health department.

Supporters say the new law will create a lucrative cottage food industry and help give residents of California an alternative source of income. California joins at least 30 states that have laws that allow the sales of homemade goods.

# # #

You can read this article and more at the LA Times by clicking HERE

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.   www.asm.ca.gov/gatto 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Noon Lions Club Honors Poster Winners


A special congratulations to the winners of the Lions Clubs International “Imagine Peace” poster contest!

Burbank Noon Lions Club International Peace Poster Contest winners are, from left, Margo Akopov, 13, who attends John Muir Middle School and was representing the Boys and Girls Club; Micayla Siemon, 13, representing Luther Burbank Middle School; and Tanishka Nair, 11, representing Jordan Middle School. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph / December 4, 2012)

By Joyce Rudolph - Burbank Leader
December 4, 2012 | 1:54 p.m.

Three young women were recognized for their artwork when the Burbank Noon Lions Club honored the winners of the Lions Clubs International “Imagine Peace” poster contest in a ceremony held at the Burbank Central Library in November.

Winners were Margo Akopov, 13, who entered the contest through the Boys & Girls Club and attends Muir Middle School; Micayla Siemon, 13, who was entered by Luther Middle School; and Tanishka Nair, 11, who was entered by Jordan Middle School.

In his welcome speech, Noon Lions Treasurer Bud Alleman said the student who goes all the way to the top of the global contest can win $5,000 and a trip to New York to attend Lions United Nations Day. This event marked the first level of judging and the winners artworks go on to the next level. Winners received $25 each and a certificate as well as certificates from the city of Burbank and the offices of Rep. Adam Schiff, State Sen. Carol Liu, Assemblyman Mike Gatto and Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

Each winner told how they were inspired to create their poster relating peace.

Micayla said her poster illustrated a peaceful, restful, grassy field.

“This meant peace to me,” she said.

Tanishka painted a rainbow, music notes, a dove and a hand with “peace,” “love” and ”hope” tattooed on three of the fingers.

Margo, who won in a previous year, tried to illustrate how people see peace in their own way, through dance, art or anything they love, she said.

Council member Jess Talamantes congratulated the winners saying it was quite an honor, especially for the repeat winner. This kind of success comes from a strong foundation that the parents provide, Talamantes said, along with encouragement from younger and older siblings.


You can read this story and more at the Burbank Leader by clicking HERE


Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.   www.asm.ca.gov/gatto  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

California lawmakers hug, joke, put off acrimony for another day


By Jim Sanders and Torey Van Oot
jsanders@sacbee.com
Published: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 - 9:55 am



For one glorious day, Capitol bickering gave way to bipartisan hugging, dreaming and back-patting Monday as 39 freshmen were sworn into office with the legislative class of 2013.

No California problem seemed too huge nor any deficit insurmountable on a day set aside for merrymaking as wives, children, aides and colleagues cheered for lawmakers' reciting their oath of office.


Assemblyman Mike Gatto reflected the lighthearted nature of the festivities by standing on the Assembly floor with a bib over his shoulder, gently rocking Evangelina, his 2-month-old daughter.

In the Senate, President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg sang merrily while the Sacramento Children's Chorus performed "God Bless America."

In the Assembly, newly elected Democrat Phil Ting said from the dais that he has known openly gay Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez so long that "I can actually remember who his last girlfriend was."

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a joking manner, invited members to the front of the Senate chambers to take their oaths of office.

"Senators elect, please proceed to the bar – not the one up the street," Newsom quipped.

"That's tonight," responded Steinberg, lightheartedly.

Spectators Monday included Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Attorney General Kamala Harris, former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton and various former legislators.

The Legislature this year has its largest class of freshmen since 1966, a Democratic supermajority in both houses, and it is implementing a voter-approved change permitting new legislators to serve up to 12 years in either house.

Monday also marked the first day that lawmakers could unveil new legislation.

Proposals include bills to repeal a new fire prevention fee, regulate the domestic use of drone aircraft, designate how funds from voter-passed Proposition 39 can be spent, and require public disclosure of chemicals used in fracking, a term for a process of extracting oil and natural gas.

Behind Monday's festivities on the Senate and Assembly floors, political tension lingered. When the Assembly took its first official roll call vote, on house rules for the new session, the measure passed on a nearly party-line vote: Democrats yes, Republicans no.

In a routine vote that typically amounts to unanimous acclimation, the incumbent speaker – Pérez – was re-elected to head the Assembly for another two years. Above the chorus of ayes, however, Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and at least one other dissenter shouted no.


The Assembly Republican Caucus decided Monday to launch a recount challenging the last-minute Los Angeles County victory of Democrat Steve Fox over Republican Ron Smith, whose lead was overcome Friday, ending in a 145-vote defeat.


"Of course I'm disappointed, but more than that I'm shocked," Smith said Monday.

Fox said he's looking forward, adding, "I'm excited and anxious to get to work."

Steinberg openly discussed Democrats' supermajority Monday, while Pérez did not mention it, stressing bipartisanship instead.

Both legislative leaders pointed to coming challenges, from implementation of federal health care reform to improving public schools, making colleges more affordable and restoring key programs decimated by California's budget crisis.

"For those Republicans who are new to the Assembly, I want to state very clearly that your voice is welcome, your contributions are desired, and your active service is needed," Pérez said.

While Californians do not want Democrats to "burst out the gate" seeking a tax hike, Steinberg said he hopes to use Democrats' supermajority in other beneficial ways, such as by placing an overhaul of the initiative process on the 2014 ballot.

Voters don't want Democrats to "overreach," Steinberg said, but "there is an equally compelling danger. It is the danger of being so cautious, so worried about creating controversy that we fail to take advantage of unprecedented opportunities."

Chino Hills Assemblyman Curt Hagman, an Assembly GOP floor leader, adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

"At the beginning of the session, everyone is moderate, they're saying 'kumbaya, work together,' " he said. "It's not until we get into it that we'll find out if that's the case or not."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/12/04/5028573/california-lawmakers-hug-joke.html#storylink=cpy


Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.   www.asm.ca.gov/gatto 

#  #  #

California Democrats begin rein with supermajority


By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press
Updated 9:11 p.m., Monday, December 3, 2012

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Democratic legislative leaders began laying out an ambitious agenda for their nearly unprecedented power as California's new Legislature was sworn into office on Monday, promising caution on new taxes but willingness to bypass Republicans as they seek to borrow billions of dollars and ask voters to make sweeping changes to the state Constitution.

"The voters do not want us to burst out of the gate to raise more taxes," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who was re-elected by senators to that leadership post Monday.

But he added that "there is an equally compelling danger. It is the danger in being so cautious, so worried about creating controversy that we fail to take advantage of unprecedented opportunities. Power is, by definition, fleeting. Misuse it and you'll lose it. Fail to use it, and it withers away," he said.

Democrats won two-thirds majorities in the Assembly and Senate in last month's election for the first time in 130 years and will be working with a governor of the same political party. The supermajorities will allow them to raise taxes if they choose and to unilaterally put constitutional amendments before voters.

In quick succession, Steinberg backed proposals by two Senate Democrats to introduce constitutional amendments that would lower the vote threshold to raise taxes for school districts and some other local governments from the current two-thirds to 55 percent. The proposals by Mark Leno of San Francisco and Lois Wolk of Davis would tinker with Proposition 13, the landmark 1978 property tax initiative that increased the number of votes needed to pass tax increases.

Steinberg said Democrats are now free to rewrite an $11 billion water bond set to go before voters in 2014, rearranging its priorities and lowering the borrowing by at least $1 billion. Republicans had insisted on including the possibility of building new dams when the bipartisan package was approved by lawmakers in 2009, while Democrats generally favored alternatives such as cleaning up contaminated groundwater and increasing conservation efforts.

Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, who was also re-elected to that post Monday, said the new legislative session marks a turning point as the state recovers from the housing and economic collapse of 2008.

The state's independent legislative analyst has said the state could even see a budget surplus next year, and lawmakers will have an additional $6 billion a year after voters approved Gov. Jerry Brown's November initiative raising the state sales tax and income taxes on the wealthy.

Perez said it is time to restore California as a land of opportunity.

"And for the middle class Californians who have weathered a very difficult period in our history, we must deliver," he said. "The next generation of Californians will have their future determined, in no small part, by the actions we take over the next few years."

Perez signaled his willingness to work with Republicans, which Assemblyman Eric Linder, a newly elected Republican from Corona, applauded.

"This might provide a lot of opportunity for us," Linder said. "We can stay united. We can actually look for really good solutions to the problem and we have our place. I think it's an important one."

Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, who will remain as minority leader, noted that the tax increases voters approved with Proposition 30 are temporary, and the state could set itself up for future problems if Democrats spend the money too quickly.

"We will be setting the stage for our own fiscal cliff," Huff said. "... Now is not the time to go on a spending spree."

Steinberg proposed splitting new revenue in roughly equal portions to retire debt, build a rainy day fund and restore cuts to social and education programs.

And he said Democrats should ask voters in 2014 to consider changing an initiative process that critics say has been hijacked by wealthy individuals or special interests.


Monday's events were mostly ceremonial before the Legislature adjourned for the holidays.

Nearly half the 80 Assembly members are new to the Legislature. In the three races that officials consider too close to be called, the current front-runners were sworn in, including in Assembly District 36, which spans parts of Kern, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Democrat Steve Fox was sworn in Monday, but Republican Ron Smith has said he will seek a recount.

Perez said the oath of office would be rescinded if the results were overturned by the final vote tally.

For the first time, new lawmakers will be able to serve 12 years in either the Assembly or the Senate, or a combination of both. Voters approved that change from previous term limits, which limited legislators to eight years in the Senate and six in the Assembly.

Lawmakers, along with California's statewide officeholders, also are working for less pay starting Monday. The California Citizens Compensation Commission voted in May to reduce their salaries by 5 percent.

Even with the reduction, California lawmakers remain the nation's highest paid with a base salary of $90,525 a year. Unlike lawmakers in some other states, they do not receive pensions.

The salaries for the Assembly and Senate leaders will be cut to $104,105.

"I think it kind of is punitive, but we have to do a better job of showing that we have the state's interests at heart and not our own interests, and when we do that I think they (commissioners) will respond accordingly," Huff said in response to the pay cut.

The governor's $174,000 salary will drop to about $165,000. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's $130,000 salary will fall to about $124,000, and Attorney General Kamala Harris will be paid less than $144,000, down from about $151,000.

Commissioners justified the action by pointing to years of state budget deficits. The independent panel previously reduced salaries for California's statewide officeholders and its 120 legislators by 18 percent in 2009.

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Associated Press writer Judy Lin contributed to this story.

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/California-Democrats-begin-rein-with-supermajority-4086059.php


Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.   www.asm.ca.gov/gatto 

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