It’s now autumn, which means that this whirlwind of a legislative session has come to a close. Thousands of bills were introduced between both the Assembly and the Senate—my staff and I certainly had our work cut out for us. Each time we analyzed the bills that were brought to the Floor or to one of the committees I sit on, we had one question constantly guiding us: how does this piece of legislation serve our constituents?
Serving as your Assemblymember is the honor of a lifetime, and championing causes and passing policies that address the top priorities and concerns of Assembly District 16 is not a responsibility I take lightly. The comments, calls, and feedback my staff and I receive is invaluable to the work that we do, and we always appreciate your engagement.
In this newsletter, you’ll find updates and information on my bill package, my Spring 2024 internship program, an upcoming community event about the adolescent brain and marijuana, and more.
End of Session Wrap-up
I’m thrilled to announce that all thirteen of the bills I sent to the Governor’s desk have been signed into law! This legislative session, I dedicated myself to working on the policy issues that matter most to Assembly District 16: environmental protections, reproductive rights, and workplace improvements and protections.
While California had made great strides during the 2021-2022 legislative session to protect reproductive rights after the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, there still remains much more work to be done to ensure that the privacy of both patients and providers is protected. Currently, information on digital charts and period tracking apps—including abortions—can be seen, reported, and criminalized once patients leave California. My bills AB 352 and AB 254, both of which have been signed into law by Governor Newsom, secure this data so patients are not at risk of criminalization. AB 1720, which ensures that ultrasounds occur in licensed clinics or in settings supervised by licensed providers, was also signed into law.
As an environmental attorney and Chair of the Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee, I have continued to champion environmental protections and pass policies that promote access to the one-of-a-kind open spaces that we have here in California. AB 618 and AB 1150, which promote outdoor access in California by improving our campsite reservation system and protecting our natural resources, will become law in 2024. My “save the bees” bill, AB 363, which would ban neonicotinoid pesticides that kill our bees, butterflies, and other pollinators for non-agricultural uses, was signed into law as well. This is a victory that has been years in the making—to see it finally become law has been incredibly rewarding.
I was proud to champion workplace improvements this year through two bills, now signed into law: AB 521 and AB 1076. AB 521 was inspired by tradeswomen from our District—this bill ensures that there is equal restroom access on job sites by asking Cal OSHA to ensure that there are separate facilities for women in the trades. AB 1076 protects employees by prohibiting noncompete agreements in an employee’s contract—while noncompete agreements have been unenforceable in California for over a decade, many employers still include them in contracts, betting on the fact that many individuals do not know that the clause is unenforceable. Now, this harmful practice can be put to rest.
Here is a summary of my other bills that have been signed into law:
- AB 267 – Removes toxic, ineffective flame retardant chemicals from small tents.
- AB 301 – Allows courts to consider body armor as a piece of evidence when deciding whether to grant a gun violence restraining order.
- AB 1369 – Increases terminally ill patients’ access to out-of-state telehealth providers.
- AB 1643 – Expands diversion pathways for youth in the juvenile justice system.
- AB 1760 – Strengthens California Fish and Game code.
Statement on Israel-Gaza War
These past few weeks have been incredibly painful for Israel, the Jewish community, and me personally. I grew up with the stories of my family’s perseverance during the Holocaust and the horrors that accompanied it. I woke up on October 7 to witness the deadliest day for Jews since that time. The brutality of the murders, kidnapping, and rape of the Jewish people by Hamas invoked all of that intergenerational trauma. And then the silence or equivocation from some is a reminder of what I was taught to fight against. Silence in the face of evil and the murder of any people. I want to thank those of you who have spoken out and been counted as witnesses to these atrocities. It matters more than you will ever know. But my grandmothers made sure I knew.
And now war, in a country I love so deeply. A country where I came of age at 16, where I became engaged to be married and that I can’t wait to share with my kids. I know the war will come with more suffering, trauma, and death. I pray for all innocent people—in Gaza and Israel—caught in that crossfire. May we find a way back to peace and wholeness but may we be brave enough to speak out when we see pure evil. May the memories of all who have lost their lives be a blessing.
Statement on Utilities and AB 205
In recent weeks, my offices have received calls and comments regarding AB 205, which was a budget bill that contained the broader policies to maintain funding for our agencies, programs, and clean energy transition. The bill contained a general directive for the California Public Utilities Commission—the state agency that regulates utility companies—to adjust rates to income. Currently, the agency is working on a new rate structure that would involve a flat fee coupled with usage, and there are very disparate estimates about what this would ultimately look like. Yes, utility companies are requesting a rate increase, but that does not mean that they will ultimately get it.
Nothing firm has been decided on yet and I have been actively working with the CPUC, legislative leadership, and the Governor’s office to ensure that any rate changes do not burden solar customers unduly. I, along with a handful of my colleagues, have been pushing the CPUC to make this process as public and transparent as possible to allow for maximum input from ratepayers. I myself am a solar owner, and I believe that a key part of achieving a carbon neutral future is more solar adoption. This means that we must facilitate a system where solar is affordable and rates stay reasonable, making it an option for all families.
The Spring Internship Application is Now Open!
The application for our Spring internship program is now open! We are looking for collaborative individuals who are eager to learn and apply the skills necessary to work in a Legislator’s District Office, including working with constituents and community stakeholder groups, researching and writing policy memos, conducting community outreach efforts, managing casework, and staffing the office. Internships are open to high school graduates and college students. This internship is unpaid.
Upcoming Event: The Adolescent Brain and Marijuana in 2023
Join me and experts from the California Department of Public Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, John Muir Behavioral Health, Contra Costa County CourAGE Youth Health Coalition, and Stanford University’s REACH Lab for a discussion on the impacts of marijuana use on adolescents’ brain development.
In the District
In September, I had the honor of presenting a check for $1 million to the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association so they could begin the construction of their new Education Center at the Mitchell Canyon entrance at Mount Diablo State Park.
In May, I was taken on an informational tour by the Moraga-Orinda Fire District, CalFire, and EBMUD so they could showcase their work on the Tunnel/East Bay Hills fuel break.
My District Office staff held Office Hours in Walnut Creek alongside staff from Contra Costa County Supervisor Ken Carlson’s office, staff from the City of Walnut Creek, and Trinity Center to assist constituents with their state, county, and city needs. Thank you to Trinity Center for hosting!
In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I had the opportunity to hand out certificates to children with Down syndrome and their families for taking part in Step Up for Down Syndrome’s annual walk and family picnic!
I had the pleasure to speak at East Bay Leadership Council’s Capitol Series event in San Ramon, where I had a conversation with President Mark Orcutt on healthcare, housing, transportation, and more.
In the News
California reservations at California state parks can be hard to get. Will a new law help? Los Angeles Times, Jeremy Childs
Assembly Bill 618, introduced by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), creates a set of restrictions and financial penalties related to reserving campsites at California state parks beginning in 2024.
As Congress grapples with AI regulation, will California step up? San Francisco Chronicle, Sophia Bollag
Assembly Member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-Orinda, who introduced the first major California bill to regulate AI, said that while the Biden administration has released some good standards around technology and artificial intelligence, they aren’t enforceable and she thinks it would be very difficult for Congress to codify them in law.
These Bay Area lawmakers oppose raising bridge toll fees to bail out BART, transit. Here’s why. San Francisco Chronicle, Ricardo Cano
“I think it is regressive, inequitable and doesn’t force the kind of accountability that we need on our transit agencies,” Assembly Member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-Orinda, said of the proposed toll increase. “We need our transit agencies to get to a place where they are sustainable … and they are looking to us to just bail them out indefinitely, and I don’t think that’s the right thing.”
State writes big check for Mount Diablo’s Mitchell Canyon Education Center Bay City News Service, Tony Hicks
"I'm thrilled to be presenting this funding which will mark a pivotal step toward enhancing educational opportunities, facilitating better access, and enriching the visitor experience at Mount Diablo," Bauer-Kahan said in a statement. "As chair of the Assembly's Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee, I understand how crucial open space and nature are for our quality of life here in California, and I am proud of how this partnership will draw more visitors to Mount Diablo."
‘A lifesaving tool’: California’s new mental health crisis line sees a surge in calls CalMatters, Anabel Sosa
California launched the hotlines after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law to fund and expand crisis call systems. It’s one of 26 states that have passed laws to fund and sustain 988 hotlines.
Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a San Ramon Democrat, wrote the bill and named it in the memory of Miles Hall, a 23-year-old Black man who was shot to death by Walnut Creek police in 2019 while he was experiencing a mental health emergency. She intended the bill to cut down on volatile 911 calls that could lead to police using unnecessary force.
Social Media Wrap-up
State Programs and Opportunities
California Climate Action Corps is currently accepting applications for their 2024 Fellowship! The fellowship connects local organizations and agencies with motivated, emerging leaders to move the needle on climate change in the community. For more information, see here.
You’ve still got time to fill out your FAFSA or CADAA application! You could be eligible for thousands of dollars in grants if you plan on attending a California college or university, or pursue a career certificate. Complete your application by April 2, 2024 to see if you’re eligible for financial aid for the 2024-2025 academic year. Apply here.
If you ever want to share your perspective on state legislation or request assistance with a state agency, such as EDD, the DMV, or the Franchise Tax Board, don’t hesitate to reach out by calling (925) 244-1600 or writing in to my website.