Fall 2014 E-Newsletter
As the 2013-14 legislative session comes to a close, I wanted to give you some updates that I hope you’ll find useful. For the fourth year in a row, the legislature passed a balanced, on-time budget that paves the way for a healthier, better educated, and more sustainable future.
As Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee, I was pleased to help restore critical services to California’s most vulnerable residents. We have made a substantial investment in public education, bolstering student success from Pre-Kindergarten through the university level. And for the first time in California’s history, groundwater use will be regulated, so that we can preserve and protect our precious resource during this pervasive drought. To further these water-saving goals, the Legislature passed a water bond ballot measure.
Finally, the Legislature also passed a Rainy Day fund ballot measure with unanticipated revenues to cushion future economic downturns. In this newsletter, I provide information about some key policy changes this year, as well as updates about legislation that I authored and reminders about how you can contact me and my office to express your views, ask questions, or receive assistance. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can assist you.
2014 Legislation Updates
I’m pleased to report that Governor Brown has signed into law several bills that I authored this year. Here are some key measures that go into effect in 2015:
Healthy Babies Act of 2014 (AB 1579): This new law will help low-income pregnant women prepare for the arrival of their new babies. Pregnant women without sufficient financial support can experience homelessness, hunger, violence, and deep poverty, all of which can lead to short and long-term health problems for women and their babies. The new law helps ensure that both mothers and children are healthier and more financially secure by giving first-time moms-to-be the ability to access CalWORKs benefits at the beginning of the second trimester of their pregnancies. Currently, pregnant women over the age of 18 may not access benefits until their third trimester.
EBT Protection and Empowerment Act (AB 1614): This new law will help families who receive public benefits through electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards avoid bank and ATM surcharges, ensuring that they can take better care of basic needs. AB 1614 improves consumer protections by requiring that county social workers provide people receiving public benefits with the information they need to maximize cash aid. Specifically, social workers will inform recipients about surcharge-free ATM locations and will discuss how to opt out of EBT card usage and instead receive cash aid through direct deposit to bank accounts. This measure ensures that $19 million in taxpayer dollars go to help struggling families rather than banks’ ATM fees.
ID Cards for People Released from Prison (AB 2308): This new law ensures that all eligible individuals released from prison have a valid identification (ID) card. A valid ID card can help ease a person’s transition from prison into the community because proper identification is necessary to access healthcare, jobs and housing. The need for people released from prison to have valid ID is widely recognized by law enforcement and community organizations. Without ID, those released from prison have difficulties achieving basic goals of community reentry such as getting a job, opening a bank account, or renting an apartment. They also face difficulties accessing services that can help establish their independence, such as MediCal or CalFresh.
Jail Overcrowding Alleviation (AB 1512): This bipartisan measure helps ease overcrowded conditions in county jails. Specifically, the measure extends existing law to allow counties to transfer sentenced inmates to another county with adequate jail space until 2018. In this district, the measure will help inmates in the Monterey County jail. Currently, Monterey County transfers approximately 60 inmates to Alameda County to mitigate unsafe conditions due to overcrowding. This bill gives counties such as Monterey more time to adapt to realignment policies and to develop spaces that will help make jails safer and programs that will help reduce recidivism. This new law ensures that counties have the tools to manage jail overcrowding caused by statewide prison realignment so they can better serve inmate populations and their families.
2014 Policy Highlights
Groundwater Management: Although the Central Coast has a long history of managing its groundwater to curb saltwater intrusion and overall basin depletion, California’s drought has forced the rest of the state to be far more dependent on groundwater. As a result, the state’s groundwater basins have been further depleted during this drought. I was pleased to support both SB 1168 (Pavley) and AB 1739 (Dickinson), legislation that enacted California’s first statewide groundwater management policy. These new laws require groundwater management to be led by local agencies and municipalities.
Water Bond: This year the state legislature passed a water bond with bipartisan support. This bond provides $500 million for drinking water, $700 million for water recycling, and $850 million in groundwater sustainability funds.
Education: I’m proud of the fact that the legislature has invested $22 billion more in K-12 education than just five years ago. Additionally, this year, we increased support for state preschool and child care programs, community colleges, and the University of California and the California State University.
Statewide Plastic Bag Law: I strongly supported SB 270, a new law that discourages California stores from providing single-use plastic bags and encourages customers to bring reusable bags for their shopping. Many of our coastal communities and the city of San Jose have already taken steps to address pollution from plastic bags, all of which will remain in place once the law takes effect.
SB 270 is weaker than many of the 29th Assembly District’s local ordinances, but it provides a necessary baseline for California communities with no restrictions on single-use plastic bags. And more importantly, this measure allows for local governments to approve and implement plastic bag bans that are broader than statewide law. Along with existing and future bag ordinances, SB 270 ensures that our region will be covered comprehensively by bag ordinances designed to address plastic marine pollution.
Contacting My Office: Sharing Your Views, Getting Assistance, or Scheduling a Meeting
Do you need assistance with a state agency like the DMV, Employment Development Department, or Franchise Tax Board? Do you have questions about state legislation? Would you like to share a concern or suggestion with your state representative?
I have two district offices to serve Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, as well as drop–in office hours in Santa Clara County.
Santa Cruz County District Office
701 Ocean Street, 318–B
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Tel: (831) 425–1503
Fax: (831) 425–2570
Monterey County District Office
99 Pacific Street, Ste 555D
Monterey, CA 93940
Tel: (831) 649–2832
Fax: (831) 649–2935
Santa Clara County (Drop–in Office Hours): My office holds Neighborhood Office Hours several times a month in San Jose. You will have the opportunity to meet with my staff in person to receive assistance with state–related matters, gain information about upcoming legislation and to learn about other ways my office may assist you. No RSVP is necessary. Assistance will be given on a first come, first–served basis.