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Senate may vote Monday on ‘open carry’ bill

A legislative staffer tells me that AB 144 – Assemblyman Anthony Portantino’s bill to ban the “open carry” of unloaded firearms in public places – will come up for a California State Senate floor vote this Monday, Aug. 22.

The Assembly passed the bill in May on a 46-29 vote, and opponents have been hard at work this summer trying to bring pressure to bear on individual Senators.

Yih-Chau Chang, spokesman for the pro-open-carry Responsible Citizens of California, in May said there’s a “pretty good chance of seeing it defeated on the Senate floor,” and if not, Gov. Jerry Brown “has supported second amendment rights in the past, so I believe there’s a good chance he wont sign the bill.” If the bill is signed into law, he said, it will face a challenge in court.

AB 144 makes it a crime to openly carry an unloaded handgun in any public place or street. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. Law enforcement personnel are exempt as are security guards, hunters and others carrying unloaded weapons under specified licensed circumstances.

Gun-rights activists have seized upon open-carry laws in states across the nation as a means of expressing their political beliefs, acting individually, or gathering to carry their weapons both as an exercise of constitutional rights and for self-protection. They say they’re both protecting their rights under current law as well as advocating for changes so that more people can get permits to carry concealed weapons, something that’s sharply limited under current law. Opponents say open-carry practices should be banned for the sake of public safety, and to protect the safety and conserve the resources of police officers checking to ensure the guns aren’t loaded, in accordance with state law.

UPDATE @ 3:25 P.M.: False alarm; looks as if the staffer with whom I spoke earlier today was mistaken. Trent Hager, Portantino’s chief of staff, just emailed me to say AB 144 “will be brought up soon but not next Monday.”

Posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Under: Anthony Portantino, Assembly, California State Senate, gun control, Public safety | 33 Comments »

Dems war over releasing Assembly spending info

Pressed to release Assembly members’ spending records, Speaker John Perez has snapped right into action and… appointed a task force.

John PerezPerez, D-Los Angeles, today named Assembly Rules Committee Chairwoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, to head a legislative records task force that will “review the status, rules and procedures governing legislative records.” That task force will be charged with rolling out a reform proposal by the start of next year’s session.

“I believe that updating our policies to reflect the 21st century world we live in is a vital step toward that effort,” Perez said. “How taxpayer dollars are expended is public information, and it is our job to ensure that the public has access to it. Currently, at my direction, all Assembly staff salaries are available on a publicly accessible web site, and we release audits of the Assembly budget annually.”

But at least one Democrat isn’t waiting for the task force’s recommendations.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, announced today he has introduced an amendment to the Standing Rules of the Assembly calling for all Assembly financial records to be made public.

Anthony Portantino“Californians deserve the respect of the legislature by having access to how their money is being spent,” he said in a news release. “We have used the better part of this legislative year legislating good practices in cities such as Bell and Vernon. We need to lead by example and not shroud our budgets in secrecy.”

Portantino also is looking for “fairness in budgeting for all members’ office expenses and precludes leadership from either rewarding or punishing a member for voting their conscience” – a topic that’s been on his mind lately.

“Unfortunately, leadership needs to be brought into the sunshine kicking and screaming,” he said. “Under HR20, the adoption of members’ budgets would be done in an open and public hearing instead of behind closed doors. Not only will members’ budgets be made available, but, all Assembly leadership, committee, caucuses and all administrative budgets for the Assembly will have to be disclosed in comprehensive detail. It is outrageous, unacceptable and wrong to keep the public in the dark when it comes to spending their money.”

Read the full text of Perez’ statement, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, August 15th, 2011
Under: Anthony Portantino, Assembly, John Perez, Nancy Skinner | 2 Comments »