Local lawmakers get bills passed on parks, more

California's troubled state parks system, shaky finances and problems with violence at mental health facilities were areas of focus this year for the North Coast's legislative delegation.

The lawmakers -- Assemblymen Jared Huffman, Wes Chesbro and Michael Allen and state Sens. Noreen Evans and Mark Leno -- succeeded in getting 43 bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Highlights included the California State Parks Stewardship Act by Huffman, D-San Rafael, and a pair of bills by Allen, D-Santa Rosa, that are aimed at curbing violence at state mental health facilities and protecting patients and staff.

The lawmakers earned high marks from political observers for the number of bills they were able to push through the Legislature and get signed into law.

Leno, a San Francisco Democrat whose district includes southern Sonoma County, led the pack with 13 bills signed into law, followed by Chesbro and Allen, each with 11. Huffman had six, followed by Evans with two.

"They are a very active bunch. They also have a wealth of experience that they bring in a term-limited Legislature," said David McCuan, a political scientist at Sonoma State University.

The two bills Evans got enacted into law this year relate to unemployment benefits for laid-off teachers and electronically-stored evidence in civil court cases.

Evans did not return several messages seeking comment this week. Her staff said she was traveling in Russia and France on state business.

In a statement issued Wednesday by her staff, Evans said she was "instrumental in the development and passage of several bills important to my district."

She cited as examples her work on committees that drafted a homeowner mortgage bill of rights and rescued home-to-school transportation for schoolchildren. She also took credit for drafting budget bills that will keep parks open for the next two years and help fund deferred maintenance projects.

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