Thank you for allowing me to represent you in the State Capitol! My time serving as the State Assemblymember for the 18th Assembly District has been one of the most meaningful and exciting times of my life.
We've had huge victories this year, both for the 18th Assembly District and for all of California.
Because of our work, East Bay communities are safer, healthier, and stronger economically.
Last year, the Legislature and Governor passed an on-time, balanced budget without cuts to education and healthcare and other critical services to Californians. We even had a modest surplus. This year we did it again. We passed a budget that reinvests in California's future and the critical services upon which Californians rely, while ensuring the financial health of the state.
I am proud that Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation I co-authored to strengthen regulations on high capacity ammunition magazines in California. As Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay, I will continue the fight to stop senseless gun violence in our communities and provide much-needed assistance to victims of such violence.
We made our minimum wage the highest in the country, and became the first state in the nation to implement the Affordable Care Act, creating greater access to quality and affordable healthcare coverage in the East Bay and throughout California.
In addition, San Leandro Hospital will remain open and the Alameda Health System was made stronger under legislation I co-authored. This year, the state will be restoring millions of dollars in funding to East Bay public schools with the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula. These funds come with more local decision-making authority by parents and education officials to help children most in need.
As to higher education, we made major new investments in the UC and CSU systems, committing an additional $1 billion over the next four years. We've worked to make a college education more affordable with middle class scholarships that will reduce student fees by up to 40% for middle class families.
Now, we are able to focus on expanding early education programs for pre-kindergarten students and work toward establishing universal preschool for all California children. I am partnering with the Bay Area Council; Next Generation; Too Small to Fail; and the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation on a pilot program in Oakland to help narrow the 30 million word gap for children under five from disadvantaged communities.
Additionally, as Chair of the Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security, I am honored to be leading the statewide effort to make permanent fixes to the teachers' retirement system (CalSTRS), which will protect taxpayers and the retirement security teachers deserve.
This year I am also focusing my efforts on reducing recidivism and providing more opportunities for the formerly incarcerated to lead successful, productive lives. AB 1271 will help improve rehabilitation of prison inmates through expanding educational opportunities. I am also carrying AB 2396, a bill to ensure that prior dismissed convictions are not a barrier to future employment and productive lives.
Still, we have more work to accomplish. I hope you will take a few minutes to read about my 2014 legislative priorities, district happenings and resources, and, most importantly, constituent services and opportunities.
I want each and every one of you to feel comfortable calling my office about anything - from constituent case work to legislative opinions and ideas. Call my district office at 510-286-1670 or my Capitol Office at 916-319-2018 to reach my staff or to schedule a meeting. Staff contact information is listed at the end of this newsletter.
District Report Highlights
- 2014 Legislative Summary
- Typhoon Relief Efforts: My Personal Story
- Farm Labor Movement A Beautiful Collaboration of Filipino and Latino Communities
- Holocaust Remembrance Day
- Woman of the Year
- Delta Sigma Theta Visits Capitol
- Combating Human Trafficking
- Assemblymember for the Day
- API Heritage Month
- Tax Preparation and Cash for College Event
- Community Health Forum
- Small Business Access to Capital
I am privileged and honored to represent you.
Assemblymember Rob Bonta
I was proud that Governor Brown signed 10 of my bills into law last year. A number of the new laws had a direct and specific impact on our district, including AB 514, which was the winning result of my "There Ought to be a Law" contest in which I asked students from the 18th Assembly District what would make them feel safer at school.
Oakland High School students submitted the winning idea, AB 514, which expands resources to students affected by gangs, gun violence, and psychological trauma. Some of the other new laws had broader statewide application, including AB 123, which will ensure that our state curriculum includes the significant contributions of Filipino Americans to the California farm labor movement.
This year's legislation similarly represents many of my core legislative priorities:
In education, AB 1902 will make it easier for all children to attend preschool by eliminating the family fee for part-day state preschool. SB 837 (Steinberg) and AB 1444 (Buchanan and Weber), both of which I am coauthoring, increase early childhood education opportunities by expanding transitional kindergarten and making kindergarten mandatory, respectively.
In jobs and economic development, I've introduced a bill to establish incentive zones to encourage healthy and fresh food vendors to do business in food deserts (AB 1661). I've also introduced AB 2525 (Worker Cooperatives), and AB 2719 (Standard Pop-Up Regulation Zones) - both to assist small business owners, who otherwise would not be able to enter the market successfully, or thrive in the existing market, build wealth and grow a healthy business. And I introduced AB 2717 (Small Business Development Centers), to strengthen our SBDCs across the state as they provide access to capital and technical assistance to small businesses and create jobs in California.
In public safety, AB 1610 preserves the testimony of witnesses in human trafficking cases, ensuring that the perpetrator does not get away with abuse if the witness is unavailable to testify at trial. AB 1629 extends peer counseling services and reimbursement to victims of violent crimes, including gun violence. Further, AB 2411 is a key bill to preserve the intent of California's landmark sex offender law -- Chelsea's Law of 2010.
With respect to recidivism reduction and re-entry, the single most important factor in reducing recidivism is education. My bill, AB 1271, will help improve rehabilitation of prison inmates through education by incentivizing community colleges to provide credit and non-credit courses, career development and college preparatory courses in correctional institutions. To further assist our re-entry population, I am carrying AB 2396, a bill designed to reduce employment barriers for people with criminal records who have been rehabilitated. AB 2396 prohibits any licensing entity within the DCA from denying a license solely on the basis of a dismissed criminal conviction. Importantly, this will ensure that prior dismissed convictions are not a barrier to future employment and productive lives.
In health, I have reintroduced a bill to require the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to distribute condoms in state prison in order to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other STDs. I'm also proud to coauthor SB 1005 with Senator Lara, which expands access to health care coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigration status.
Below is a summary of each of my bills, along with the name and contact information of the assigned staff person. Please free to email the assigned staff person if you have any questions or need more information about one or more of the bills. My staff is happy to assist you.
SB 837 - Kindergarten Readiness Act (Co-author with Steinberg)
SB 837 makes one year of voluntary, high-quality transitional kindergarten available to every four-year-old in California.
AB 611 - Addressing the CalSTRS Funding Shortfall
AB 611 establishes a plan to address the long-term CalSTRS funding shortfall to ensure our hard-working teachers receive the retirement security they deserve and have been promised.
AB 876 - Advancing Education Technology in Preschools and Transitional Kindergartens
AB 876 clarifies the eligibility of preschools and transitional kindergartens for discounts through the California Teleconnect Fund, requires the Public Utilities Commission to develop and implement an outreach plan to increase awareness of the available discounts, and requires the commission to give priority for advanced communication services.
AB 1444 - Mandatory Kindergarten (Principal Co-author with Assemblymembers Buchanan & Weber)
AB 1444 requires kindergarten to be mandatory for the state's school children.
AB 1902 - Eliminating Preschool Fees
AB 1902 eliminates family fees for children who attend a part-day state preschool program.
AB 1942 - Fair Accreditation for Community Colleges
AB 1942 restores fair accreditation practices to California's Community Colleges, the largest system of higher education in the United States, serving 2.4 million students annually.
AB 2141 - Truancy Prevention and Intervention (Joint Author with Hall)
AB 2141 enhances communication regarding truancy cases referred for mediation and prosecution so that various stakeholders can develop effective prevention and intervention strategies.
PUBLIC SAFETY, JUSTICE, AND RE-ENTRY
AB 1271 - Prisoner Rehabilitation through Education
AB 1271 provides incentives for community colleges to provide credit and non-credit courses, career development, and college preparatory courses in state correctional institutions.
AB 1439 - Eliminating Illegal Sweepstakes Operations (Joint Author with Salas)
AB 1439 would prohibit a person from operating a gambling-themed or simulated gambling electronic video monitor in a business establishment that gives cash or other prizes of value.
AB 1517 - Expediting Rape Kit Testing (Co-author with Skinner)
AB 1517 amends the Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights to specify guidelines for timely testing of rape kits and entering of DNA profile information into the FBI's national DNA database.
AB 1610 - Preserving Witness Testimony in Human Trafficking Cases
AB 1610 allows for a conditional examination of a victim of, or witness to, a case of human trafficking in order to properly preserve testimony.
AB 1629 - Counselling Services for Crime Victims
AB 1629 extends peer counselling services and reimbursement under the Victim Compensation Fund to victims of all violent crimes.
AB 2396 - Job Opportunities for the Formerly Incarcerated
AB 2396 prohibits any licensing entity within the Department of Consumer Affairs from denying a license solely on the basis of a dismissed criminal conviction.
AB 2411 - Preserves Intent of California's Landmark Sex Offender Law, Chelsea's Law
AB 2411 would preserve the intent of California's landmark sex offender law, Chelsea's Law, in light of recent court challenges, by specifying that a registered sex offender on probation or parole must complete a sex offender management program, regardless of when the person's crime or crimes were committed.
ACR 127 - Recognition of the Bataan Death March
ACR 127 establishes a Day of Appreciation for surviving and deceased veterans of the Bataan Death March.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOB CREATION
AB 600 - Increasing Advertising Opportunities
AB 600 would create a narrow legal exemption from tied-house provisions for Levi's Stadium.
AB 1661 - Hope Zones Act of 2014
AB 1661 authorizes a city or a county to create Healthy OPtions for Everyone (HOPE) incentive zones to encourage healthy and fresh food vendors to conduct business in food deserts.
AB 1839 (Principal Coauthor with Assemblymembers Bocanegra and Gatto) - Competitive Film Tax Credits
AB 1839 will keep film productions in California by amending the current film tax credit program and creating better incentives for filmmakers.
AB 2292 - Economic Development in Oakland
AB 2292 will provide Oakland with the tools necessary to create jobs and spur economic development by allowing freight rail projects and facilities to be developed under infrastructure financing districts (IFDs) at the Oakland Army Base, Howard Terminal, and Coliseum City.
AB 2525 - Worker-Owned Job Creation
AB 2525 creates a special purpose LLC - a new business entity in California - which is narrowly tailored to the needs of worker-owned, democratically-run businesses and helps grow wealth for previously underrepresented communities through the establishment of worker cooperatives.
AB 2717 - Small Business Development Center Matching Funds
AB 2717 provides funding for the state, that will be matched by federal funds, for small business development centers (SBDCs), which improve the economic vitality of the state through no-cost consulting and training to California employers and entrepreneurs.
AB 2719 - Standard Pop-Up Regulation Zones (SPURZ) Act
AB 2719 requires the Office of Planning and Research to develop model ordinances for mobile retail operations to spur their development throughout the state and make it easier for business owners who otherwise could not enter the market successfully to start and maintain a small business.
HEALTH AND SAFETY NET
AB 503 (Joint Author with Wieckowski) - Charity Care
AB 503 creates a standard definition of charity care, and updates community benefit requirements for nonprofit hospitals and nonprofit multi-specialty clinics, thereby ensuring that hospitals that are not required to pay taxes due to their non-profit status provide health care to community members who need it most.
AB 966 - Prisoner Protections for Family and Community Health Act
AB 966 requires CDCR to develop a five-year plan to offer condoms in all California prisons, based on the guidelines from the successful Solano Prison pilot project. By taking this most basic step in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS, we are not only advocating for the improved health of prisoners, but we are also protecting communities across the state that could potentially be harmed by communicable diseases when former prisoners relocate to neighborhoods upon re-entry.
SB 1005 (Coauthor with Lara) - Health Care for All
SB 1005 expands access to health care coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigration status.
AB 1822 - Streamlining Tissue Bank Licenses
AB 1822 modifies the state's tissue bank licensure requirements to better align with current practices, provide certainty to health care professionals and eliminate unnecessary costs in the health care system.
AB 604 (Coauthor with Ammiano) - Medical Cannabis
AB 604 creates the Division of Medical Cannabis Regulation and Enforcement within the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), to oversee and run a strict and comprehensive system of regulation of the medical cannabis industry in California.
SB 1029 (Coauthor with Hancock) - CalWorks/CalFresh Eligibility for Former Felons
SB 1029 allows individuals, previously convicted of a nonviolent drug felony, who meet all other eligibility rules, to receive basic needs services, employment training and work supports through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) and CalFresh programs.
AB 1522 (Coauthor with Gonzalez) - Paid Sick Leave
AB 1522 provides that workers in California would accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked and employers would have the option of capping an employee's paid sick leave at 24 hours, or 3 days.
AB 1611 - CSEA: Prior Notice Act
AB 1611 ensures that public school employees receive adequate notice of changes to their working conditions made by their employer.
AB 2032 - Restoring Fairness to Civil Service Employee Hearings
AB 2032 provides that the burden of proof falls on the employing agency when a writ of mandate is brought by an employee and if the State Personnel Board fails to act during administrative proceedings within the time period prescribed under law.
AB 2126 - Alternative Dispute Resolution: Collective Bargaining
AB 2126 conforms the mediation provisions of the MMBA to those provisions of the EERA, the Dills Act and the HEERA, thereby requiring mediation when requested by either party. Furthermore, AB 2126 updates the fact-finding process, abrogating recent court cases and codifying accepted practices of PERB.
AB 2582 - BART Retiree Health Care Vesting
AB 2582 provides for a BART contribution of 50% of retiree health costs for management after 10 years of service, rising by 10% each year for a BART contribution of 100% after 15 years of service---conforming the management and Directors' benefit to the line workers' benefit.
This past April, I had the privilege of visiting the Philippines during Holy Week---a trip that was unique and special on many levels. Nearly six months had passed since the strongest Typhoon ever recorded in history wreaked havoc in the central Philippines, yet the evidence of its destruction was still very apparent in and around Tacloban, the area where we visited. Notwithstanding the tragedy that killed thousands and displaced thousands more in its wake, I experienced many memorable instances of resilience, resolve, and determination. The spirit to continue on and rebuild has become synonymous with the people of this archipelago nation, which I am proud to say is the country of my birth.
This trip was particularly meaningful for me as I was able to travel with my father and daughter. While Holy Week traditionally provides this predominately Catholic nation time to reflect on and practice one's faith without tending to school or work, shortly after arriving in Tacloban, my daughter and I and others, as part of the Gawad Kalinga, USA delegation, were able to assist one of the rebuild efforts by filling bags of concrete mix to be used in the construction of approximately 150 units of housing for residents whose homes were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda this past November.
On another occasion, in a celebration that will remain in my memory for many years to come, the residents of a Gawad Kalinga village in Ormoc rolled out the red carpet to make sure my eldest daughter, Reina, enjoyed her fifteenth birthday in true, Filipino fashion. Musical entertainment with choreographed dance, a full spread that fed the entire village, and banners and balloons adorned with her name put a truly special touch on her birthday celebration an ocean away from home.
While this trip was far too short for me to finish all that I would like to toward helping with the rebuilding efforts in the central Philippines, I am pleased to say and know that many others stand ready to assist in every way possible to help ensure that the rebuilding efforts stay on course in the months to come.
I am proud to support the recent release of two films depicting the role of the Latino and Filipino American communities in sparking the farm labor movement in California. As a young boy, I lived in a trailer a few hundred yards away from César Chávez at the headquarters of the United Farm Workers (UFW) after moving from the Philippines.
I spent my early childhood in La Paz, the UFW Headquarters, watching my parents organize Filipino and Mexican American farm workers - experiencing firsthand one of the greatest peaceful social, racial, and economic justice movements of all time. There, my parents developed a strong and lasting relationship with Jose Gomez, the Executive Assistant to César Chávez and, I'm proud to say, my godfather.
My parents taught me at a very young age about the important collaborative relationship that was forged between Filipino American and Latino labor leaders to create the farm worker movement in California. My parents worked directly with UFW co-founders César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz, and Pete Velasco.
Unfortunately, the names and historical significance of vastly influential Filipino leaders in the farm labor movement are unknown to the general public. The Filipino American population composes the largest Asian Pacific Islander population in California and continues to grow; yet the story of Filipino Americans and their crucial efforts in support of the farm labor movement is an untold part of California history.
The Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), led by Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz, was the first to strike for improved wages and working conditions in Delano in 1965 - launching the American farm labor movement. AWOC and the National Farm Workers Association, led by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, joined forces to start the now internationally-famous UFW.
I have a strong commitment to ensuring that the contribution of Filipino Americans is accurately reflected in California history. One of my first acts as an Assemblymember was to introduce AB 123 to provide students with a more complete account of California's farm labor movement and ensure that Filipino American leaders are remembered by future generations of Californians. I was thrilled that Governor Brown signed AB 123 last year. Major historical facts have been missing from our history books for many decades, and it's encouraging that the more complete story will now be told in our classrooms. I am confident that within the next few years, the incredible contributions of Filipino Americans will become common knowledge in our state.
I am further encouraged by the recent release of two films, one on César Chávez and one entitled "Delano Manongs," that both shed light on this critically important chapter of history. A new generation of Californians is on the verge of learning more about the transformative struggle for justice of the farm labor movement and the great historical collaboration between Filipino Americans and Latinos. The timing of the Chávez film and "Delano Manongs" is serendipitous; it was incredible to have two films premiering just weeks apart that feature one of the most important Civil Rights and Labor movements of our time. The release of these two films nearly simultaneously provides the unique opportunity for robust and constructive dialogue about, and increased awareness of, the farm labor movement, both of which I support and encourage.
To continue our history of strong collaboration, I am happy to announce that I am working with the filmmaker of the "Delano Manongs" and leaders of the current Farm Worker Movement to put on a screening of "Delano Manongs" in the near future that will underscore the collaboration and celebrate the success of this historic movement.
District and Capitol Event Photos
I was honored to pay tribute to local Holocaust Survivor Misa Olszak Nudler (pictured below) during the Assembly Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony on April 28, 2014.
During a special floor ceremony on Monday, March 10, 2014, I was honored to award Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore the Woman of the Year Award from the 18th Assembly District. Mayor Gilmore has devoted over 15 years of her life to protecting and uplifting the quality of life for residents of Alameda.
I was honored to meet with the officers of the Farwest Regional Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority on the floor of the State Assembly on March 24, 2014. My sister, Lisa, has been a proud Delta since 1991 when she was an undergraduate at UC Santa Barbara.
Alameda County has been at the forefront of the campaign against human trafficking, developing a billboard and bus shelter campaign (see photos above) to raise awareness of the growing number of sexually exploited minors in the district as well as sponsoring critical legislation to combat the problem on a number of fronts.
I am happy to team up with the Alameda County District Attorney on AB 1610 to preserve the testimony of victims in human trafficking cases. Victims of human trafficking are vulnerable to being harassed, coerced, or physically harmed to prevent them from testifying in criminal prosecutions. AB 1610 preserves testimony to ensure that offenders do not get away with abuse. The bill recently passed the Senate Public Safety Committee.
For more information on human exploitation and trafficking, please visit the Alameda District Attorney's website at www.heat-watch.org.
I had the honor of hosting my young mentee, Michael R., at the State Capitol. I was paired with this mentee in 2013 by West Bay Pilipino Multi Services, which also honored me as a Distinguished Citizen for Public Service. Michael is a gifted student and athlete, excelling in track and maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
During API Heritage Month, I was honored to have the opportunity to award Jose Antonio Vargas the APIA Heritage Month Award for Excellence in Civil Rights. Mr. Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and the founder of Define American, a campaign that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration in America.
Joint Open House for Assembly Districts 18 and 15
We hosted a Joint Open House with Assemblymember Nancy Skinner for constituents to meet with their elected officials and our staff to discuss legislative priorities and district services offered to the community.
My office, in partnership with the California Immigrant Policy Center, hosted a community forum to address the specific needs of immigrant communities during open enrollment into Covered CA and Medi-Cal. Participants discussed health care options for all California immigrants, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and newly eligible relatives.
On Wednesday, May 14, my office hosted an Access to Capital Fair in order to connect small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in the 18th Assembly District with lenders and business finance specialists.
Over 50% of the working population works in a small business, and over 543,000 new businesses get started each month, but more employer businesses shut down than start up each month. Most businesses fail due to a lack of planning and not enough capital. The resources that were offered at our Capital Fair will help small businesses succeed.