During his six years of service in the California State Assembly, Anthony Portantino proved to be an effective and principled legislator. Time and time again, he put policy ahead of politics to solve problems and to get things done. He successfully authored nearly 40 bills that were signed into law by both Republican and Democratic Governors.

Women, children and families are better off today because of Anthony’s leadership. Our government is more open and transparent because Anthony was willing to stand by his convictions and change the way business was done in Sacramento.

Read more about Anthony’s record, and read more about a compassionate person who stands on principal, speaks his mind and gets things done!

Legislative Highlights & Success

Public Umbilical Cord Blood Banking

Anthony is best known as the author of AB 34 and AB 52. These two bills established and funded the California Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program. Umbilical cord blood is commonly used to cure leukemia and other blood-related diseases. Cord Blood stem cells are 100 times easier to match to a patient than bone marrow. California has the most diverse population in the world making it the perfect place to collect cord blood stem cells. Prior to Anthony’s legislation, 98% of all cord blood was discarded as medical waste after birth. Because of Anthony’s efforts, the University of California Davis is collecting cord blood stem cells for use by the general public. Anthony was recognized by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as Legislator of the Year and by the National Marrow Donor Program for his work on cord blood.

Protecting Students From Diploma Mills

Anthony authored AB 48, which reestablished the Bureau of Private Post-Secondary Education. This bureau is charged with oversight over many of the “for profit” colleges in California. AB 48 also created a student recovery fund to help students who have lost money from unscrupulous schools. In order to achieve this important legislative success, Anthony had to work with Republicans and Democrats to pass this bill. Several attempts to reauthorize the bureau by other legislators, including members of leadership had failed. Anthony’s success protecting our students through AB 48 is another example of his leadership and effectiveness and another reason why we need him in Sacramento.

Student Financial Aid

Anthony is passionate about helping students. He worked closely with the Campaign for College Opportunity on AB 668, a bill that maximized federal and state financial aid. It created an initiative to improve low community college participation rates. He also helped clarify Cal Grant B issues through the passage of AB 2260. Anthony is continuing his efforts to streamline the financial aid process in California. The current duplicative system leaves hundreds of millions of dollars on the table every year.

Fellowship Opportunities for our Best and Brightest

As the author of AB 573, Anthony joined with the California Council on Science and Technology on a Sacramento fellowship that brings science professionals into the capitol, at no cost to taxpayers. Anthony realized that far too often, the state is regulating science without the science experts. Having PH.Ds in the capitol every year helps bring a level of science expertise to Sacramento that has been lacking for decades.

Anthony is also the author of ACR 21, which called upon the University of California to create academic partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Anthony brought together the UC Business School Deans and African American leaders, advocates and educators, to form a highly competitive Leadership Fellowship at the UC Business Schools for students from HBCUs and HSIs, Hispanic Serving Institutions. The Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders (SIEML) is now in its fourth year.

Senior Issues

Anthony was recognized by Aging Services of California for his authorship of AB 123. This bill made it easier to bring more supportive services to older Californians living in affordable living arrangements. In addition, Anthony received recognition from the Solheim Lutheran Homes for his advocacy on behalf of seniors.

Protecting our Children and Neighborhoods

Anthony authored AB 1361, which banned trucks on the Angeles Crest Highway forever decreasing the likelihood of another tragic accident that claimed a father and young daughter. He also authored AB 1662 to bring tax relief to homeowners who suffered property damage due to the Station Fire and the ensuing mud slides. Recognizing the impact that tragedies sometimes have on the families of the brave men and women who are often called to protect us, Anthony authored AB 384, to offer survivor benefits for the families of federal firefighters who have lost their lives fighting California wildfires. Several years ago, five federal firefighters were killed fighting to keep our communities safe. Anthony wanted to make sure that their families received the same protections that state, local and county firefighters deserve and receive.

Anthony also worked with the State and Local PTA on a bill to protect our children from the inaction of peers during times of crisis. AB 1999 offers immunity to minors who call 911 to bring emergency medical treatment to a teen in need. It was widely viewed as one of the most important child safety bills passed in recent years.

Reform Agenda

Throughout his tenure in the State Assembly, Anthony exemplified Democratic values while charting an independent course and rising above petty partisanship. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Anthony can take comfort in knowing that many of the initiatives he first proposed have been embraced. On seven different occasions, he introduced legislation to freeze the salaries of California’s highest paid workers. He also introduced a measure to create an Inspector General to root out waste and fraud in state government. In addition, he pushed for "Pay As You Go" legislation that would require an identified funding source for all new State programs. Anthony also authored landmark legislation to coordinate goals, objectives and accountability standards for all three higher education systems in California. Anthony successfully authored AB 1436, which calls on public higher education agencies to provide live broadcasts of their meetings.

HIV / AIDS Summit & Policy Accomplishments

Anthony is recognized throughout Los Angeles County as a leader in HIV / AIDS public policy. The Pasadena Health Department awarded him The Andrew Escajeda Humanitarian Award on World AIDS day for his public policy work. For the past nine years, he has convened the highly respected San Gabriel Valley HIV Action Summit at City of Hope Hospital. Each year the summit has focused on critical issues facing HIV / AIDS treatment more than three decades after its discovery. Anthony has featured Dr. Michael Gottlieb, the doctor who isolated the virus, and Dr. Alexandra Levine, Chief Medical Officer at City of Hope and a member of President Clinton’s HIV Advisory Council. In addition, Jake Glazer, Herb Schultz and Mondo Guerra have given keynote addresses.

Past summits have focused on public health policy. The City of Oakland and the City of Pasadena have shared their cutting edge HIV public policy expertise. A highly respected media panel was convened to discuss HIV and the media in year 30 of the epidemic. And, most recently, 150 high school students were brought together to conduct a special HIV program for youth.

In addition to the summit, Anthony has been featured on World AIDS Day in Los Angeles, and Anthony, along with the Pasadena Public Health Department, has done a public HIV testing day in Pasadena. Today, several hundred people know their HIV status thanks to Anthony’s outreach efforts.

Anthony has successfully authored laws to bring more federal dollars to California to fight AIDS and to streamline the HIV testing process. His work has brought him appreciation from HIV patients, public health advocates and the nonprofit community.

HIV Bills Authored by Anthony and signed into law:

AB 2899 HIV AND AIDS COUNSELING - Requires Department of Public Health to develop an HIV counseling program.

AB 221 HIV TESTING: SKIN PUNCTURES - Exempts specified HIV counselors from phlebotomist certification requirements.

AB 2541 HIV: MONITORING AND FUNDING - Helps California draw federal funding by ensuring all cases of HIV are included in names-based conversion.

Taking Guns Off Our Streets

While many politicians shy away from tough issues, Anthony was a leader for sensible gun control. He was asked by law enforcement to author California’s landmark “open carry” legislation to end the dangerous practice on Main Street California. Working with the California Police Chiefs Association, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), California’s largest association of rank and file police officers, Anthony authored AB 144. And AB 57.

Both Bills were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. Although they were fiercely opposed by the gun lobby and even some Democrats, these two Bills ban the open carry of unloaded handguns and long guns on Main Street California. They set the standard for the entire country to follow and put Anthony at the forefront of sensible gun legislation.

Pasadena Star News: Big Week for Gun Control

Preserving the Character of Our Foothill Communities

The 25th Senate District contains almost all of the Angeles National Forest and large amounts of county and privately owned natural open space. It is critical that our next Senator have a record of achievement when it comes to open space preservation.

Anthony’s record is impressive and unmatched with a long list of accomplishments:

  • Recognized by the Sierra Club in 2009 with the Angeles Chapter Special Award for Public Policy.
  • Testified before Congress in support of the Rim of the Valley Trail Corridor Bill authored by Congressman Adam Schiff.
  • Key participant in two Wild Heritage Campaign trips to Washington to push for more Wilderness Protection in California.
  • Former Vice Chair of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Advisory Committee.
  • Supported the Preservation of Oakmont V in Glendale and voted at the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to fund the purchase.
  • Recognized for shepherding the preservation of Rubio Canyon in Altadena, saving 43 acres of open space.
  • Spearheaded the Preservation of Annandale Canyon in Pasadena, saving 20 acres of open space.
  • Helped to secure the State funding for the Preservation of Rockridge Terrace on the border of Montrose, La Crescenta and La Cañada Flintridge.
  • Secured the State funding for Preservation of Hall Beckley Canyon in La Cañada Flintridge.
  • Secured SMMC grant funding to expand trails in Cherry Canyon.
  • Secured SMMC grant funding to rebuild the Flint Wash Bridge that reconnected the Pasadena trail system with La Cañada Flintridge.
  • As Mayor, appointed and convened a Trails Protection Committee. La Cañada Flintridge is the only city to have adopted a Trails Protection Plan into the City’s General Plan.
  • Under Anthony’s leadership, La Cañada Flintridge was the first city to support the Sierra Club’s alternative proposals for the Angeles National Forest.
  • Immediately called for an investigation into the Station Fire effort for the purpose of improving response and better coordination of large-scale fires.
  • Testified before a Congressional hearing on the Station Fire. Only legislator to do so.
  • Reappointed and currently serving as the City of La Canada’s representative on the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Advisory Committee.
  • Board Member, Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy.

Station Fire & Wind Storms

The Station Fire was the largest fire in Los Angeles County history, scorching over 160,000 acres of forestland. The 44th Assembly District was the epicenter of this devastating event. A true leader, Anthony was omnipresent during the firefight. He toured the front lines almost every night of the blaze and was on hand at the Red Cross shelter thanking the volunteers and comforting the evacuees. Anthony coordinated his efforts with the local city council, fire departments and sheriffs. His dedication to his constituents throughout the foothills garnered him tremendous respect. He was so dedicated that he was willing to lose legislative pay as the fire spread into Altadena.

“If I was going to stand by my own neighborhood, I had to give the same effort as the fire spread to other parts of the district.”
- Anthony Portantino

During the fire, Anthony was present and available at briefings and helped spread important public safety instructions to the public.

After the fire, Anthony was one of the first leaders to call for further investigation into issues surrounding the coordination of the firefighting efforts between the federal and State governments. Although the Station Fire affected multiple Assembly Districts, Anthony was the only legislator to testify before the Congressional Committee convened to investigate the fire. Anthony understands that the Angeles National Forest needs a champion in good times and during tragedies like the fire.

“Anthony was everywhere during the fire. I escorted him to the front lines and I was impressed by his interest and concern for residents throughout the foothills. He literally made me stop to comfort folks on almost every street.”
- Mike Leum, Longtime Search and Rescue Team Member

During the mud slides that followed the fire, Anthony made constant visits to the affected neighborhoods to check on the well-being of residents.

In his desire to help out the victims of the fires and mud slides, Anthony authored legislation that brought tax relief to families that suffered damage. Anthony secured broad bi-partisan support for his bill to aid these victims of the twin tragedies. After touring the mud slide areas with Governor Schwarzenegger, the bill was signed into law.

After historic wind storms devastated the foothills with millions of dollars of damage and left thousands of residents without power for days Anthony helped bring down representatives of the Governor’s office to personally tour the damage of many of the cities in the 25th Senate District. He then authored legislation to force public utilities to prepare for future disasters and better coordinated emergency efforts between the PUC, Counties, investor owned utilities and local cities. AB 1650 was a cutting edge effort to force everyone to work together. It will forever bring better reactions and coordination between those entrusted with keeping the lights on and our communities safe.

“Folks in Sierra Madre were quite impressed when Anthony showed up with members of the Governor’s staff and personally toured our community. That’s the type of representative that our community needs.” - Hon. John Harabedian, Former Mayor, Sierra Madre

Women In Business Recognition

As the spouse of a successful businesswoman and the father of two wonderful daughters, Anthony proudly recognizes the accomplishments of successful businesswomen in the 44th Assembly District.  Nearly 500 people attend the Women in Business awards luncheon in what many folks in the 44th AD call the most uplifting event of the year.   This event started when Jack Scott was the 44th Assembly District Representative and continued during Anthony’s six years in the legislature.  Over 100 women in the 25th Senate District have been recognized by Anthony for their outstanding business and community accomplishments and Anthony hopes to continue the program upon election the State Senate.

Friend of the Entertainment Industry

A former filmmaker, and current California Film Commissioner, Anthony has a significant understanding of film entertainment. Anthony has strongly supported keeping filming in California. He has been called upon to work with the DGA, SAG, Teamsters and other guilds as well as the studios on a broad array of issues concerning the entertainment industry. Anthony was a solid supporter of creating the Entertainment Tax Credit Program that has successfully issued over $700 million dollars of incentives for California film production.  As the Chair of the Committee on the Preservation of California’s Entertainment Industry, Anthony held an important hearing that highlighted the economic benefit of filming in California and the actual success of the film tax credit program.

Prior to public service, Anthony produced the film Time of Tears and worked for many years as an Art Director on the NBC show Unsolved Mysteries. Anthony’s wife, Ellen, is an executive at Warner Brothers and his daughter Sofia graduated from UCSB with a degree in Film and Media.  Upon graduation, Sofia followed in her father’s footsteps and is a young professional working in the business. Several of the videos linked to this web page were edited by Sofia.

California Film Commission


Angeles Crest Highway

Making Angeles Crest Highway Safer for Future Generations

Within 24 hours of the tragedy on Angeles Crest Highway and Foothill Blvd., Anthony had the Director of the California Department of Transportation on the scene in La Cañada Flintridge. Within days he worked with Caltrans, the City of La Cañada Flintridge, the County of Los Angeles and a special Gold Award Girl Scout to author legislation to ban big rig trucks from this intersection and the Angeles Crest Highway. Within two months, he had the bill on the Governor’s desk and signed into law. Not happy with just passing the law, Anthony was on the scene to personally help install the truck ban signs.

Leader for Social Justice

Fighting on Behalf of Foster Youth

Anthony has been a tireless advocate for foster children. Each year in office, he held a foster youth town hall that has successfully connected foster youth to educational opportunities and needed public services. He has personally initiated campus visits for foster youth and been recognized by the California Youth Connection for his work. He has successfully authored AB 743, which helps connect foster children with other family members. In addition, he has worked closely with the Foster Care Initiative at All Saint’s Church, Pasadena. And, Anthony has hosted numerous foster care roundtables in his office.

Youth Law Center: Governor Signs AB 743

Armenian Genocide Recognition

Anthony has long been respected by the Armenian American community as a friend and supporter of Genocide recognition. As Mayor of La Cañada Flintridge, Anthony issued a proclamation commemorating the Genocide, and as a legislator Anthony authored and co-authored state resolutions recognizing and commemorating the Genocide. Anthony’s work with the Armenian community doesn’t stop there. Anthony has been the keynote speaker at the Armenian Youth Genocide commemoration and the Master of Ceremonies of the annual Armenian National Committee of America Western Region banquet. He has met with His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia and spiritual leader of the Armenian Diaspora communities in the Middle East, Europe and North America, and he was on hand at the consecration of St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church by His Holiness Kerakin II.

Western Prelacy: Former Assemblymember Anthony Portantino Visits the Prelacy

Locally, Anthony has routinely paid his respect to His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Primate of the Western Prelacy. As a councilmember, he joined in recognizing the appointment of Archbishop Hovnan Dederian when he became the youngest archbishop in Western Diocesan history.

For his body of work in the community, Anthony has been recognized by the Armenian National Committee as its 2011 Legislator of the Year. As a further honor, Anthony is a proud board member of the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee, the only non-Armenian American on the Board. Anthony is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce Greater Los Angeles Chapter.

Asbarez: Portantino, Achadjian Lead Sacramento Genocide Commemoration

Asbarez: Portantino, Achadjian to Lead Genocide Commemoration in Sacramento

Truth in Music

Troubled by the pilfering of the legacy of legendary music artists, Anthony worked with the Truth in Music Coalition on AB 702. This legislation protects legendary music artists from counterfeit and rip-off groups. Many of the victims were legendary African American artists. Anthony’s work will forever preserve the legacy and economic viability of the real artists.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities Initiative

Extremely concerned by the lack of diversity on California University campuses, Anthony authored AJR 21. ACR 21 sought to encourage academic partnerships between Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the University of California. Continuing to build on that success, Anthony spearheaded the effort to create a fellowship on the University of California campuses for students from HBCU’s. In addition to initiating the program, which is now in its fourth year, Anthony has helped raise the money to pay for it. The purpose of the fellowship is to create a partnership between HBCU’s and the UC that will lead to greater enrollment in MBA programs in the UC system. The partnership was expanded to include students from Hispanic Serving Universities, HSI’s.

The Pasadena / San Gabriel Valley Journal: Black Students Summer Institute at University of California