2014 Legislative Accomplishments
Protecting our Environment and Advancing Education
Addressing the $74 Billion CalSTRS Funding Shortfall
As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security, I convened a series of hearings this year to address the $74 billion CalSTRS funding shortfall. I was honored to take the lead on the issue by introducing legislation to codify a fix. AB 1469 establishes a plan to address the long-term CalSTRS funding shortfall and ensures hard-working teachers receive the retirement security they have been promised.
Elimination of Preschool Fees for All
AB 1902 eliminates family fees for children who attend a part-day state preschool program, thereby ensuring access to early education for all families, including those from low-income communities. By eliminating family fees for part-day preschool, California will provide some of our most vulnerable children with high quality early childhood education, and will provide them with the tools they need to be successful later in life.
Transparent and Fair Accreditation for Community Colleges
AB 1942 reinforces a transparent and fair accreditation process for community colleges in California by placing new requirements on the Board of Governors and accreditation agencies with respect to transparency, accountability, and oversight in the accreditation process. Our community colleges serve over 2.4 million students annually and AB 1942 will allow them to continue to access the affordable, high-quality education they deserve.
Truancy Prevention and Intervention (Joint Author with Assemblymember Hall)
AB 2141 will help address California’s truancy crisis through the development of effective truancy prevention and intervention strategies. AB 2141 enhances communication regarding truancy cases referred for mediation and prosecution. This will help school officials determine the appropriate interventions that are most effective so that they can make informed decisions about how to handle future cases of habitual and chronic truancy.
Phase-Out of Single-Use Plastic Bags (Coauthor with Senator Padilla)
Each year, more than 14 billion single-use plastic bags are handed out by retailers in our state. Less than 3% of these bags are actually recycled. Single-use plastic bags are harmful to the environment, sea life, and wildlife. In addition, California spends more than $25 million a year collecting and burying this type of waste. SB 270 phases out the permitted use of single-use plastic bags in California. This is a significant step in the right direction towards a greener California, and will help our economy by saving taxpayer dollars.
Reducing Pollution through Green Vehicles (Coauthor with Senator Lara)
SB 1204 provides additional investments that are needed to deploy clean technologies for medium and heavy-duty vehicles. The new law targets projects in disadvantaged communities, which are directly impacted by poor air quality. SB 1204 will foster the development of technology that will allow every Californian to breathe cleaner air while reducing the financial burden to transition to zero emission trucks, buses and off-road equipment.
Charge Ahead California (Coauthor with Senator De Leon)
Four in ten Californians, more than in any other state, live close enough to a freeway or busy road that they are at an increased risk of asthma, cancer, and other health hazards. SB 1275 aims to bring one million electric cars, trucks, and buses to California over the next decade while at the same time ensuring that low income and disadvantaged Californians benefit from this transition through various programs, thereby protecting the environment and the safety and health of disadvantaged communities in California.
Protecting Workers’ Rights and Growing Our Economy Through Job Creation and Advanced Technology
WORKERS’ RIGHTS AND CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS
AB 1522 – Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (Coauthor with Assemblymember Gonzalez)
AB 1522 requires, effective July 1, 2015, most public and all private employers to provide at least three days of paid sick leave to employees each year to care for themselves or a family member. Pursuant to the new law, more than 6.5 million more workers in the state will be able to take sick leave without fear of losing income, hours, or their job. The Legislature will be moving forward next year to ensure that IHSS workers are included under the law’s provisions.
AB 1611 – Work Protections for School Employees
AB 1611 ensures that public school employees receive adequate written notice of changes to their working conditions. This written notice gives the employees’ representative a reasonable amount of time to negotiate proposed changes with their public school employer. Some of the issues that school employers have tried to change without notice have included start time, hours of work, and the workweek. It is absolutely critical that employees are able to bargain for these changes which have a direct impact on their lives.
AB 611 – Defined Contribution Plans for Peace Officers and Firefighters
AB 611 sets a defined date for the termination of the State Peace Officers’ and Firefighters’ Defined Contribution Plan, in compliance with the 2011 collective bargaining agreement entered into by the respective parties. Following passage, the IRS approved dissolution of the plan, and members should be able to access their funds soon.
AB 2582 – BART Retiree Healthcare Benefits and 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 benefit to the workers’ benefits.
SB 396 – Erasing Proposition 187 from California Law (Coauthor with Sen. de Leon)
Twenty years ago, one of the most controversial and mean-spirited propositions in California history passed to prohibit undocumented immigrants and their children from accessing basic services, including going to the doctor and getting an education. Proposition 187 was eventually struck down by federal courts as it violated the U.S. Constitution. SB 396 cleans up our state codes by deleting these unconstitutional provisions and turning the page, literally and figuratively, on this unfortunate period in our state’s history.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOB CREATION
Boosting Economic Development with Infrastructure Financing Districts
AB 229 (Coauthor with Speaker Emeritus Perez)
SB 628 (Principal Coauthor with Sen. Beall)
AB 229 authorizes a city or county to form an infrastructure financing district to finance projects on a former military base and dedicate any portion of its funds from the RDA Property Tax Trust Fund to the district. The new law also allows districts to finance projects in former RDA areas. SB 628 allows local agencies to create enhanced infrastructure financing districts to finance specified infrastructure projects and facilities.
AB 1839 – Competitive Film Tax Credits (Principal Coauthor with Bocanegra and Gatto)
AB 1839 will keep film productions in California by amending the current film tax credit program and creating better incentives for filmmakers. AB 1839 is a smart and prudent investment in California’s communities that will grow jobs and the economy of our entire state.
AB 2292 – Economic Development through Advanced Technology
AB 2292 provides cities and counties with new tools to expand broadband projects that will bring high-speed communications, jobs, and new businesses to local communities. Local communities will now be able to use infrastructure financing districts, a funding mechanism that requires voter approval, for use in community-wide infrastructure and financing projects. Broadband has been federally and internationally recognized as a key driver of economic growth and national competitiveness, in addition to contributing to social and cultural development.
AB 2717 – Small Business Development Center Matching Funds
AB 2717 provided $6 million in state funding 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, improving access to much needed capital and spurring job creation. The state allocation would have enabled SBDCs to pull down $6 million in federal matching funds. After much advocacy, $2 million in funding for SBDCs was incorporated into the state budget.
AB 600 – Increasing Advertising Opportunities
AB 600 creates a narrow legal exemption from tied-house provisions for Levi’s Stadium.
Reducing Gun Violence, Advancing Opportunity for Former Offenders, and Protecting Community Health
Prisoner Education from Community Colleges (Principal Co Author with Senator Hancock)
AB 1391 will provide additional educational opportunities and career technical education programs for inmates to increase their job skills and employability upon release from prison. SB 1391 will allow community colleges to collect funds for inmate programs within prisons and provides a grant program for community college Innovative Career Education programs with sequences of courses leading to industry and state certification. Investing in programs leading to employment for formerly incarcerated men and women (in jobs with wages to sustain living expenses) is essential to the long term goals of improving the lives of the formerly incarcerated, lowering recidivism rates and saving money.
Job Opportunities for the Formerly Incarcerated
AB 2396 expands opportunities for rehabilitated individuals to pursue meaningful employment and work towards entering the middle class instead of struggling in low-wage jobs or returning to crime. Under current law any licensing entity within the Department of Consumer Affairs may deny a professional license solely on the basis of a dismissed criminal conviction. AB 2396 prohibits those entities from denying a license on that basis, thereby creating new job opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.
Prisoner Protections for Family and Community Health Act
AB 966 ensures that our most vulnerable populations are provided with a basic and critical tool to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other STDs. AB 966 requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to develop a five-year plan to distribute condoms in all California prisons, based on the guidelines from a successful Solano Prison pilot project that was conducted in 2009. AB 966 is a simple and sound preventive public health policy that is evidence-based, cost effective, informed by a highly successful pilot project and will save lives inside and outside of prison.
School Safety Plans: Post-Violence Mental Health Care
All forms of violence, such as gun violence and bullying have become a tragic fact of life for children everywhere. AB 1271 requires school safety plans to include protocols to address the mental health care needs of students who have witnessed violent acts at school. AB 1271 will help our schools become better prepared to help their students back onto the pathway of recovery in the event they do fall victim to or witness a traumatic incident.
Peer Counseling Services for Victims of Violent Crime
AB 1629 will support the physical and emotional recovery of Californians injured by gun or other violence by extending peer counseling services and reimbursement to persons providing peer counseling assistance to those victims. By providing culturally competent health services, we will not only help victims with their basic health needs following a traumatic episode, but we will reduce overall gun violence by supporting intervention and de-escalation efforts.
Gun Violence Temporary Restraining Order (Coauthor with Assemblymember Skinner)
Oftentimes, family members are the first to notice when a relative is in crisis. AB 1014 establishes the Gun Violence Temporary Restraining Order which will allow concerned family members to petition law enforcement and the court to temporarily prevent an individual from possessing a firearm and ammunition. AB 1014 allows law enforcement to act quickly in the face of an impending threat in order to prevent future tragedies.
Eliminating Illegal Sweepstakes Operations (Joint Author with Assemblymember Salas)
In recent years, there has been a proliferation of illegal sweepstakes operations throughout the state. Local business owners have voiced concern about the negative consequences of these businesses, including crowds, increased crime, and economic harm to neighboring businesses. AB 1439 closes a loophole in the law to ensure that law enforcement may effectively deal with the problem.
Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights: Rape Kits (Coauthor with Assemblymember Skinner)
In Alameda County alone, the estimated backlog on rape kit testing is close to 2,000. Counties throughout the state have the evidence to link criminals to violent rapes and other sexual offenses, but because of this backlog, violent offenders are never brought to justice. Every day a kit remains in storage is another day that a rapist is out on the street - potentially attacking another victim. AB 1517 amends the Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights to specify guidelines for timely testing rape kits and entering DNA profile information into the FBI’s national DNA database.
Preserving Witness Testimony in Human Trafficking Cases
AB 1610 protects victims of human trafficking by preserving their testimony in human trafficking-related prosecutions. Preservation of such testimony at an early stage, in many cases, is critical to ensure a just adjudication. Victims of human trafficking are often vulnerable to being coerced or dissuaded or physically moved away from the court’s jurisdiction by the defendant. Once a victim is threatened or moved outside of the county or state, it is too late to capture his or her testimony, resulting in cases being dismissed and offenders getting away with abuse simply because the testimony of the witness was not obtained in time. AB 1610 fixes that problem by providing a mechanism for preserving that testimony early in the proceedings.
Preserves Intent of California's 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, AB 2411 will help reduce recidivism, preserve state resources, and better protect our communities.