Summer is here and I hope you are finding time to appreciate some of the joys that come with this time of year. The legislative session is in high gear right now with committee hearings and floor votes going on weekly. California is known for being the nation’s leader in the fight for so many issues, whether it be climate-related policies or laws to protect those less fortunate among us, and this year is no exception. As your Assemblymember, I’ve been hard at work to ensure that our community’s top concerns have been heard and advocated for up in Sacramento. You may be interested to know that every time you write or call me, that information goes straight into the iPad I use to study the bills coming before me as I vote. So while you may wonder what I see, I can tell you the answer is everything.
In this newsletter, you can learn about my bills that are now going through the legislative process in the Senate, recent community events, and more. Please keep those comments coming and be sure to take some time this summer to read a good book, spend time with family and friends, and maybe enjoy some ice cream! It is a privilege to work for you in Sacramento and I hope this newsletter provides you with good information on my goings-on in the Capitol and the district.
We are in the midst of one of the busiest times of the year at the Capitol. The House of Origin deadline–when both chambers of the Legislature consider bills that were introduced in their respective houses–has passed and I’m excited to say that nineteen of my bills have successfully passed the Assembly and are currently in the Senate. As your Assemblymember, I’m proud to be a leader on the legislative priorities and policy issues that you have voiced are most important to you–whether it be protecting our environment, gun violence prevention, or reproductive rights.
As Chair of the Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee, one of my priorities this year has been to ensure that there is equitable water access as we continue to grapple with climate change. My bill, AB 460, passed the Assembly Floor after a lengthy debate, ensuring that our existing water rights laws are enforced by granting the State Water Resources Control Board the authority to immediately halt illegal or wasteful uses of water.
While our state has received a reprieve from the drought as a result of the winter storms, we need to ensure that our agencies have the power to act upon our already-existing laws to protect water’s dire future. AB 1205 prevents private groups from buying and hoarding water rights for profit. And AB 923 requires the Central Valley Flood Protection Board to identify high priority floodplain projects and quickly implement them.
A number of my other bills that seek to protect the environment have also successfully passed. AB 363 and AB 1042 continue my efforts to save the bees and other pollinators–and, by extension, our food supply–by requiring the Department of Pesticide Regulation to evaluate the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and authorizing the agency to regulate the pesticides used to treat seeds. AB 267 updates our outdated performance and label requirements so that companies are no longer required to create small tents containing toxic flame retardants. Many of the tents on the market today are made with materials known to have low risk of flammability, unlike the tents that were made long ago.
In California, one of our many gems is our parks system–from gorgeous redwoods to our state beaches, there’s a wealth of potential for residents and visitors alike to appreciate the natural beauty of our state, and people are quickly coming to that realization. In recent years, demand for State Parks’ 15,000+ campsites has skyrocketed, which made us quickly come to the conclusion that there are too many systemic barriers in place that prevent our underserved communities from enjoying our state campsites. My bill, AB 618, promotes access for everyone by requiring California State Parks to implement changes to our online camping reservation system to deter late cancellations and no-shows.
As Chair of the Select Committee on Reproductive Health, I continue working on protecting reproductive healthcare. Although reproductive freedom is now enshrined in our state’s constitution, there is still work to be done, particularly with our health and data privacy. Under current state law, data collected on apps used to track reproductive and sexual health information isn’t sufficiently protected, leaving these apps’ users at risk of criminalization. With AB 254, users of these apps can be assured that their private reproductive and sexual health information will be protected under the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act. Similarly, my bill AB 352 protects patients and providers by preventing information on reproductive and sexual health from being automatically shared during interstate medical records-sharing.
Finally, my bills to protect innovation, worker mobility, and improve gender equity in the construction trades–AB 1076 and AB 521, are awaiting policy hearings in the Senate. While noncompete agreements haven't been enforceable in our state since 2008, many businesses still include noncompete agreements in their employees’ contracts, effectively stagnating workers’ career and income prospects. My bill, AB 1076, protects workers by prohibiting this practice, further protecting employee rights. AB 521 requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to revisit restroom requirements on job sites so there is at least one women’s restroom on job sites that already have two or more water closets. Women are already underrepresented in the trades and, by ensuring that the sanitary and safety needs of women are adequately met, we can create a more welcoming environment.
Here are updates on my other bills:
- AB 301 which inludes possession of body armor as a factor when considering a GVRO, passed the Assembly with a 54-17 vote and is currently in the Senate Committee on Public Safety.
- AB 862 which requires County Sheriffs to report on the success of our recidivism reduction programs, passed the Assembly Floor with a 67-13 vote and is currently in the Senate Committee on Public Safety.
- AB 1369 which creates a limited licensure exemption to allow terminally ill patients access to care via telehealth with out-of-state providers, passed the Assembly Floor with a 75-0 vote and is currently in the Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development.
- AB 1643 which increases accessibility of probation for youth by decreasing the threshold for eligibility, passed the Assembly Floor with a 56-8 vote and is currently in the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
- AB 1720 which protects ultrasound patients from unlicensed uses by requiring a setting or supervisor to be licensed by the state, and is currently in the Senate Committee on Judiciary.
The State Budget
This budget cycle has been challenging, rewarding, and inspiring. I am grateful that, despite fiscal concerns, we never stopped prioritizing our most vulnerable communities.
I’m particularly proud to have secured a total of $3,500,000 for District 16, including funding for an education center in Mt. Diablo State Park, conservation of critical open space for nature-based learning, and clean water wells for the City of Pleasanton. The budget also includes critical funding for the 988 mental health crisis phone line that I helped create last year. I was thrilled to support bold budget priorities like increase in pay for childcare providers, funding increases for schools, and restoring funding to essential programs like the Arts, Music, and Instructional Materials block grant that goes directly to our kids.
In my role as Chair of Water Parks and Wildlife, I was deeply invested in the discussions of the infrastructure and natural resources issues in this year’s budget. I am proud to have found a balance with between safeguarding vulnerable species, and expediting projects that are desperately needed.
This is my fifth budget, and every year I am astounded at what we can achieve when we decide to fight for it. I am grateful to my community for their advocacy and their trust in me. We did it.
This year, I was honored to name Pledge to Humanity as my Nonprofit of the Year for California Nonprofits Day! They’ve played a vital role in our community by encouraging our youth to volunteer in ways that improve the lives of our kids and their families through both local and global initiatives. Their contributions to our community and their dedication has been inspirational and I was delighted to host their founder, Gaby Ghorbani, for our California Nonprofits Day Luncheon in the Capitol!