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Celebrating the New Year with New California Laws

happy holidays ad18

Dear Friends,

As we enjoy the holiday season, it is incredibly heartwarming to watch our communities come together to celebrate the diverse festivities across the district; from decorating the Christmas Tree in Jack London Square, to lighting the menorah in Alameda, as well as the upcoming events like Oakland Chinatown’s Lunar New Year Bazaar. Though this past year has been trying for many, I am humbled by our community's passion for giving back, organizing toy-drives, coat and pajama giveaways, and ensuring that everyone can enjoy this time of year.

Not only is this New Year significant for families across the district, January 1 also represents the first day that some newly passed laws will take effect. Within this newsletter, I’ve included a list of some of these consequential new laws, including a new Traffic Safety Pilot Program in Oakland and 6 other municipalities, and regulation to prevent abandoned oil wells from polluting the environment. Additionally, I was proud to co-sponsor AB 12, which starting July 1, 2024, will limit security deposits to at most one month’s rent for most rental housing units.

More than just tradition, holidays are special because of the moments shared with family. In this spirit, I would like to share my family away from home – my office staff. I encourage you all to take this opportunity to meet the team working to represent Assembly District 18 in Section 2 of this newsletter. From advocating for constituents to collaborating with community organizations and crafting new laws, our staff is eager to learn from our neighbors about how we can better address the needs of our community.

I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the community members who held our neighborhoods together, who battled to overcome the pandemic, and who unite us behind common ground and shared love. Know that when you need an advocate in this fight, my office will always be available to you. Have a warm holiday season, and a happy new year!

Yours in Service,

Assemblymember Bonta signature

Mia Bonta
Assemblymember, 18th District

In this newsletter, you'll find the following information:

Assemblymember Mia Bonta & staff are committed to keeping AD-18 residents fully engaged and informed. Please send this newsletter to a friend and subscribe!

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Section 1: New Laws Taking Effect January 1st, 2024

Section 1A: AB 2188

Starting January 1, 2024, most Californians will be protected from employment discrimination on the basis of legal, adult use of cannabis by AB 2188. The law states that employers may not refuse to hire, fire, or penalize an employee based on the results of hair or urine tests for marijuana. Employees may not be impaired by cannabis on the job and may be subject to an oral swab or blood test.

Federal employees and those in the construction trades are currently exempt from this protection.

Section 1B: AB 1167

Oil companies purchasing drilling wells will be required after January 1, 2024 to set aside funds to prevent the wells from becoming “orphaned,” posing hazards to nearby communities.

If a well is not properly sealed and closed, it may provide a pathway for hydrocarbons or other contaminants to migrate into drinking water or to the surface. There are more than 38,000 known idle wells in California, and more than 5,300 orphan wells with no responsible solvent operator.

This law, AB 1167, will ensure that funds are set aside to mitigate the environmental risk of orphaned wells before any drilling takes place.

Section 1C: AB 645 Oakland’s Speed Camera Pilot Program

Starting January 1, 2024, six California cities — including Oakland, may establish a Speed Safety System Pilot Program, using cameras to monitor speed limits in school zones and designated “safety corridors.”

The law outlines procedures for handling violations, including issuing notices, reviews, hearings, and appeals. It also mandates a diversion program for financially challenged individuals caught violating speed rules by the safety system. Cities involved in the pilot program must submit a report assessing how the speed safety system affects street safety and the economic impact where utilized.

View more on AB 645 here, or read about Oakland’s implementation of the program here.

Section 1D: AB 12 Security Deposit Cap

The high expense of moving into a new apartment poses a major barrier to many in California’s current housing market - worsening the affordability crisis.

Beginning July 1, 2024, AB 12 will no longer allow landlords to charge more than one month's rent as a security deposit for furnished or unfurnished rental property, subject to certain exceptions. Landlords who own no more than two residential rental properties that collectively include no more than four dwelling units offered for rent may ask for a security deposit of up to two months’ rent.

Section 1E: SB 525 Raising Minimum Wage for Health Care Workers

SB 525 is the nation’s first statewide healthcare worker minimum wage - raising minimum wages at large public and private health facility employers and dialysis clinics to $23/hour by June 1, 2024.

Minimum wages at these facilities will continue to rise until reaching $25 per hour on June 1, 2026

Section 1F: AB 1228: Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers

AB 1228 repeals and replaces provisions of the statute creating the Fast Food Council within the Department of Industrial Relations, creating a process to develop minimum fast food restaurant employment standards, related to wages, working conditions, and training – upon the withdrawal of the AB 257 referendum:

  • Establishes a minimum wage of $20 per hour for fast-food workers beginning April 1, 2024 and allows the council to increase this wage annually.
  • The annual wage increase is capped at the lesser of 3.5% or the annual increase in the US-CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.
  • Allows the Council to develop and propose other labor, health or safety standards for rule-making by the appropriate body. The Council and its authority sunset January 1, 2029.

Section 2: Meet Team Bonta

Section 2A: Capitol Office Staff

Tomasa Dueñas, Chief of Staff

ad18 tomasa duenasTomasa is an Oakland native and began her public service career in 2006, as a fellow for the Senate Fellowship Program. She worked in the Senate until 2010 when she moved to the Assembly to work for Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez as a Senior Legislative Assistant. In 2012, Governor Brown appointed her Assistant Deputy Director of Legislation at the California Department of Consumer Affairs. She returned to the Assembly later that year to work as Legislative Director, then Chief of Staff, for Assemblymember Quirk. She joined Team Mia Bonta in September 2021 and on-boarded in February of 2022. Tomasa holds a BA in Political Science and Spanish from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Public Administration from USC.

Haydee Dominguez, Legislative Director

ad18 haydee dominguezPrior to joining Team Mia Bonta, Haydee had been working as an immigration attorney for several years prior. Most recently, she worked as an immigration attorney at Catholic Charities East Bay in Oakland, where she represented undocumented children in immigration removal proceedings and in family court. This role helped her develop an understanding of both the legal and non-legal needs of low-income immigrant children living in Oakland. Prior to that, she served as an associate attorney at Galindo and Associates P.C., where she defended immigrants during the Trump Administration. Her passion for serving immigrants comes from her experience as a first-generation daughter of Mexican immigrants. She obtained her Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from UC Davis.

Eliza Brooks, Legislative Assistant

ad18 eliza brooksComing from a family of educators, Eliza was raised to believe in the value of higher education and public service. Entering her fourth year as a legislative staffer, Eliza has obtained expertise in K-12 and early childhood education. She has covered a diverse array of issue areas, from Business & Professions, to Environmental Safety & Toxic Materials, to Insurance. Eliza got her start in the Capitol as an Assembly Fellow, staffing impactful bills on clean energy and school-based health for Assemblymember Marc Berman. A Sacramento-area native, Eliza attended Elk Grove public schools and graduated with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.


Monica Sepulveda, Legislative Assistant

ad18 monica sepulvedaMonica began attending Sacramento City College at the age of 17, where she served as Vice President of their student government board and earned three Associate Degrees in Political Science, Social Science, and Liberal Arts. She then transferred to the University of California, Davis as an Honors Scholar with a full-ride scholarship, earning her Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Minor in Education, all while being an undocumented student. Additionally, Monica volunteered for 8 years in Title 1, K-12 schools, and previously worked as a Law Clerk for an immigration law firm. She is now entering her third year as a legislative staffer and her first year of her Master’s in Public Policy and Administration at Sacramento State.

Natalie Pita, Assembly Fellow

ad18 natalie PitaNatalie is excited to join Team Bonta this year as a fellow in the 2023-24 Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship Class. Prior to becoming an Assembly Fellow, Natalie worked as a Policy Intern for the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), helping to administer the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program. Originally from Southern California, Natalie obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Coming from a family of healthcare workers, Natalie has always been interested in public health and healthcare. This interest led her to Columbia University where she recently obtained her Master of Public Health Degree with a Certificate in Health Policy and Practice. Natalie hopes to use her passion for and knowledge of public health to work on policies that improve the lives, health, and well-being of all Californians. 

Section 2B: District Office Staff

Rowena Brown, District Director

ad18 rowena brownRowena was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an alumni of Peralta Community Colleges and Mills College where she obtained a BA in Political Science. Rowena served as an advocate for change while serving as the ASMC Vice President and Social Justice and Diversity Chair. As a result of her dedication to teaching the importance of Civic Engagement to youth in Oakland Public Schools, she was awarded the Change-Maker of the Year Award. Rowena has worked for local government in the City of Oakland, working to improve the lives of East Oakland residents during a global pandemic. She graduated with a Masters from the University of Hastings, College of Law in May.


Rickiea Lacy, Scheduler

ad18 rickiea lacyRickiea is an Oakland native. At a young age, she noticed a disparity between her east Oakland community and other affluent communities in Oakland and the Bay Area as a whole. Her community work started in high school where she had internships and volunteered at organizations such as the Ella Baker Center, Youth Uprising and Youth Grants for Youth actions (YGYA). In her adult life she also works closely with the Self-ish Society, an organization that focuses on mental health, providing resources for low income Oakland residents, as well as affordable/ or free self-care services. Working with Assemblymember Mia Bonta is the first opportunity for her personal work to intersect with professional career, and she could not be more excited to get to work serving her community once again.



Sam Kevy, Field Representative

ad18 sam kevyBorn and raised in Alameda, Sam’s first experience with public service came while interning at La Familia’s Reentry Employment Program – working to improve public safety by supporting programs that uplift opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.

Influenced by his parents’ careers in education, Sam majored in Political Science – Public Service at UC Davis and minored in Statistics. As a student, Sam interned for Assembly Majority Leader Cecilia Aguiar-Curry’s District Office, Congressman Mike Thompson’s legislative team in Washington D.C, and the Capitol Weekly news outlet in Sacramento.

Sam served as an intern for Team Bonta prior to joining the office as a full-time staffer. His district issue areas include Housing and Community Development, Insurance, and Commerce.

Gélser Zavala, Field Representative

ad18 gelser zavalaGélser Zavala is an East Oakland born and raised native from El Salvador who joined the office in May 2023. Prior to joining Assemblymember Bonta’ s District Office, Gélser interned for Speaker Anthony Rendon, the longest serving Latinx Speaker, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Gélser is a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar Alumni from U.C. Berkeley with his B.A. in Legal Studies. Gélser also has an A.A. in Social and Paralegal Studies from Laney College.



Section 3: Federal, State, and Local Grant Opportunities

Section 3A: Encampment Resolution Funding (ERF) Program

The lack of affordable housing continues to force individuals to live on the street or in encampments across California. As part of the state’s response, the California Interagency Council on Homelessness launched the Encampment Resolution Funding (ERF) Program – a $350 million competitive grant program available to assist local jurisdictions in ensuring the wellness and safety of people experiencing homelessness in encampments by providing services and supports that address their immediate physical and mental wellness and result in meaningful paths to safe and stable housing.

The ERF program will fund actionable, person-centered local proposals that resolve the experience of unsheltered homelessness for people residing in encampments. Eligible applicants include counties, Continuums of Care (CoCs), and cities of any size.

A Notice of Funding is Currently Available for Round 3 of the ERF Program. View more information here.

Section 3B: Oakland’s Early Funding Request For Homekey Round 4 and Rapid Response Homeless Housing (R2H2) Program:

ad18 housing and community development banner

In anticipation of the State's fourth Homekey application cycle in 2024, the City is seeking proposals for permanent and/or interim affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness through the City of Oakland Homekey & Rapid Response Homeless Housing (R2H2) RFP.

The City selects projects/sponsors to co-apply with to the State Homekey NOFA. The City will be the lead applicant on all Oakland Homekey projects. Teams must co-apply with the City and cannot apply to the State Homekey NOFA outside of the City's RFP process.

Proposals are Due Thursday, February 29, 2024 at 4 p.m. The city will hold an information session online on January 24, 2024, at 12:30 p.m.

Section 3C: Inflation Reduction Act Community Challenge Grants Program

ad18 epa logoEPA’s new Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants program (Community Change Grants) has announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity for approximately $2 billion dollars in Inflation Reduction Act funds in environmental and climate justice activities to benefit disadvantaged communities through projects that reduce pollution, increase community climate resilience, and build community capacity to address environmental and climate justice challenges.

The entities eligible to apply are:

  • A partnership between two community-based non-profit organizations (CBOs).
  • A partnership between a CBO and one of the following:
    • a Federally-Recognized Tribe
    • a local government
    • an institution of higher education.

To apply for this opportunity, view the RFA on Application packages must be submitted on or before November 21, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time).

For more information, please contact

Section 3D: Deadline Approaching for Homeowners Affected by 2017-18 Natural Disasters

ad18 recoverca

Resources are still available under the ReCoverCA program to help California homeowners affected by the 2017 and 2018 wildfires and other natural disasters rebuild their homes. However, the deadline to apply for these funds is on December 31, 2023.

Homeowners affected by 2017 and 2018 wildfires, mudflow, and debris flows have until December 31, 2023, to complete the first required step of the process – submitting the Disaster Housing Needs Assistance survey available on the ReCoverCA website. Once submitted, eligible homeowners will be contacted by a case manager and invited to submit a full application. The deadline to submit the completed application is January 31, 2024.

For more information about the ReCoverCa program, call (530) 455-9469.

Section 4: Assembly District 18 Updates and Resources

Section 4A: City of Oakland Five after Five at Franklin Garage

open enrollmentThe City of Oakland, is offering secure parking at the Franklin Plaza Parking Garage for a flat rate of $5 on weekdays after 5 p.m. and all day on weekends.

Located at 419 19th Street, Oakland CA 94612, the “Five after Five” will help holiday shoppers and residents enjoy Downtown Oakland.

Learn more about the City of Oakland Five after Five here.



Section 4B: Covered California is now OPEN

open enrollmentNow is the time to sign up for health coverage! Between November 1, 2023, and January 31, 2024, you have a critical opportunity to secure quality health insurance through Covered California. During the COVID-19 pandemic, federal funding ensured continuous Medi-Cal coverage. However, this requirement ended on April 1, 2023. An estimated 2 to 3 million Californians will need to enroll in alternate sources of coverage.

Visit Covered California for detailed information on coverage plans, and estimated costs and to start your enrollment.

Covered California has launched the Medi-Cal to Covered California Enrollment Program for those no longer eligible for Medi-Cal. This program provides a seamless transition to a qualified health plan offered by Covered California, maximizing financial help.

Section 4C: Spring is Free at Peralta Community Colleges

ad18 free peralta college tuitionThe Peralta Community College District (PCCD) is excited to announce that “Spring is Free in 2024” at all four Peralta Colleges: Berkeley City College (BCC), College of Alameda (COA), Laney College, and Merritt College. This means that California residents who enroll in a minimum of 6-course credits and who submit a financial aid application (either the Federal FAFSA or the California Dream Act application) will have their tuition and fees waived for the spring 2024 semester.

For more information on enrolling at a Peralta Campus this spring, click here.