Freshman Assembly member Rich Gordon a quick study

A hot start: Assemblyman Rich Gordon has a good first year in Sacramento

A hot start: Assemblyman Rich Gordon has a good first year in Sacramento

He may be just a rookie, but when it comes to firing off new bills, Rich Gordon doesn’t miss very often. With 15 of 19 bills signed by the governor, Gordon, the first-year Democratic assemblyman from Menlo Park, had the highest percentage of bills signed into law of anyone in the Assembly.

“They’re not the most controversial bills, but they are bills that make sense,” said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, who only got eight bills on the governor’s desk in her first session.

Gordon’s bills largely focus on government efficiency and the environment, and some extend expiring laws.

His recycling bill will extend and expand an existing law to provide $10 million to $20 million in annual incentives for companies that process and remanufacture recyclable bottles in-state, and could result in 4,000 new jobs, he said.

A bill exempting nonprofit land trusts from property taxes will put as much as 20 percent more funding in the hands of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

“Without that, land trusts could have potentially been forced to sell off land or return it to the state,” said Gordon.

After one session in office, Gordon’s reputation in Sacramento is credible and “low-key,” said Ma. Gordon said that targeting noncontroversial issues has been an intentional strategy as he wanted to spend his first session building consensus, relationships and credibility.

Moving forward, Gordon said he plans to “push a little deeper and take on things that will be more controversial.”

His plans include making it easier for cities and counties to consolidate fire, police or other services, and expanding recycling opportunities.

Still, Gordon wasn’t veto-proof. Gov. Jerry Brown rejected a bill that would have required the fiscal impacts of initiatives to be explained on the ballot in plain English.

But since Brown vetoed all but one bill regarding changes to the initiative process, Gordon said he did not feel “singled out.”

Gordon’s bills

AB 587 Prevailing Wage: Enables volunteers to continue beach cleanup, wetland restoration, trail building and other public works projects without being paid for an additional five years.

AB 1149 Plastic Market Program: Expands and extends a previous law, directing $10 million to $20 million in surplus funds (originally intended for recycling but unused because bottles were not returned) to subsidize in-state processing and remanufacturing and potential create 4,000 jobs.

AB 820 Property Taxation: Allows nonprofit land trusts to maintain their exemption from property taxes and extends the repayment period for notes issues by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, thereby increasing its funding for buying and saving open spaces by as much as 20 percent.

nkyriakou@sfexaminer.com

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