Key Bills for 2016

With the close of the legislative session, and the approach of another year, it’s time to take stock of the year’s work, and report back to you, the constituents of Assembly District 13.

Protecting the Delta

This year I carried on the fight to protect the Delta. First, I wrote and fought for a bill to stop the Twin Tunnels project from going any further without a vote by the public. That bill came closer to passing than any like it in the past. It was eventually killed in committee by the usual special interests, but while I carried it forward it forced a conversation in the Legislature about the undemocratic process that has allowed this reckless project to proceed.

In June, I called for an audit of the project’s financing. That audit was approved by a bipartisan majority of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. Already, pro-Delta activists have been turning up revelation after revelation about the project’s shaky financing. It will be interesting to see what the audit, which will begin early next year, turns up.

Good for the environment; good for business

I have been working for a few years to pass legislation that would aid in the recycling of glass used in obsolete CRT televisions. An enormous amount of this glass has been stockpiled and as the manufacture of CRT TVs draws to a close, there was a danger it would end up in landfills.

This year, I was finally successful – the governor signed my bill, AB 1419, in late September. The bill authorizes use of recycled CRT glass for certain safe products, providing business opportunities and environmental good.

Also, my colleague Senator Ricardo Lara introduced a bill, SB 1383, to reduce short-lived climate pollutants – methane, hydrofluorocarbon gases and manmade black carbon. I worked with Sen. Lara to make sure the bill could succeed alongside the continuing success of California’s dairy sector, one of the most important contributors to the economy of San Joaquin County. In the end, the bill was supported by the California Farm Bureau, and the bill made possible the provision of $50 million to California dairies for the purchase of equipment to reduce emissions.

Education and opportunity

We broke ground in San Joaquin County on the Discovery ChalleNGe Academy, a project I embarked on in my first term. A successful National Guard program aimed at keeping kids from dropping out of high school, ChalleNGe is a residential academy that will serve hundreds of kids a year. It is the first of its kind in Northern California, and it’s in Assembly District 13!

Additionally, last year I mandated a study by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office of community needs for a new CSU campus, including one in Stockton. The LAO has already begun interviews and research in Stockton. A campus in Stockton would transform our community, not only its higher educational opportunities, but also K-12 outcomes, job and economic prospects, cultural life and public profile. This is a top priority and one I am committed to for the long haul.

That’s not all: I had several bills signed into law that will make changes, both large and small, for the good; bills to help foster youth, to help the homeless and hungry, to help people who need access to mental health services, to combat a culture that is tolerant of rape and which blames victims.

I welcome your suggestions and feedback as I prepare a platform for another successful year representing Stockton, Tracy, Mountain House, Thornton and western San Joaquin County in the state Assembly.

AB 2147 Protecting the Community

This bill will allow local governments to impound the cars - for up to 30 days - of individuals who buy sexual services.

AB 2743  - Improving Mental Health Services

This bill will establish a ten county pilot project (9 Bay Area counties plus San Joaquin County) to utilize an Internet-based psychiatric bed registry regarding the availability of acute psychiatric beds in psychiatric health facilities in order to streamline waiting times, improve inter-facility coordination and expedite mental health treatment.

AB 1577 - Expanding Tax Credits for Agricultural Producers

This bill will expand a tax credit program for farmers and processors who donate to food banks.

AB 2408 Protecting the Environment

This bill will revise requirements for the delivery of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds to local communities, so that often overlooked disadvantaged communities have improved access to funds for rooftop solar, energy efficiency, weatherization and urban greening projects.

AB 2495Improving Access to Health Care

This bill would allow local health departments to permit such facilities in their jurisdictions in order to save lives and protect well-being of the community by addressing a serious public health crisis with a public health approach.