The crisis at the Employment Development Department (EDD) is continuing. Many claimants had to wait months for their benefits, thousands have had their finances devastated, while others filed phony claims that reportedly defrauded the state of over $30 billion.
Droughts are a fact of life in California and shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Yet somehow we don’t seem capable of preparing for them. We are now in the second year of severe drought, and much of California’s agriculture, especially in the Central Valley, is facing devastation.
High-Speed Rail. The Bullet Train. The 19th Century concept of rail travel, updated using 21st Century technology that will speed passengers from Los Angeles to the Bay Area in about 2 hours and 40 minutes. Barely enough time to enjoy a casual meal, and maybe settle in with a cocktail, while enjoying California’s blurred landscape as it rushes by at 220 miles per hour.
The CA 2021/22 budget passed last month, but a series of “trailer bills” to fund specific programs passed on July 15. Many of these were policy priorities for myself and for my caucus. Programs receiving funding ranged from foster youth to childcare and development programs, to housing and homelessness.
Access to the internet has become a critical part of everyday life, something many Californians take for granted. But usable broadband service has been unavailable for many. Over 670,000 Californians do not have access to a high-speed broadband connection, including 30% of rural households and 24% of homes located on tribal lands. My district is one of those. That’s why my caucus and I have long supported efforts to close the digital divide statewide.
According to a report by the FBI, 2020 was the deadliest year in California since 2007, with homicides increasing by 31%. Public safety should be our priority, but we’ve been moving in the wrong direction.
In the late 1800s, the federal government granted San Luis Rey River water rights to the cities of Vista and Escondido, depriving local tribes of water they had used for thousands of years. In essence, allocating the water rights twice.  According to Bo Mazzetti, Rincon Tribal Chairman, “The cattle were dying. The Trees were dying.” In the 1960s the tribes sued, leading to a final settlement that was eventually agreed upon 50 years later.
California is now reopening its economy, something I’ve been advocating for months. As a small business owner, I understand the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on small businesses, which make up 95% of all businesses in this region and employ the vast majority of workers. We’re taking a huge step in the right direction, though it’s months too late.
The Legislature just passed a budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22, and the Governor has until June 30th to sign it into law. Revisions are likely, and a series of “trailer bills” to fund specific programs will be considered over the coming months. More than $267 billion will be spent, including $195.5 billion from the General Fund.
Providing relief and dignity to terminally ill patients suffering from extreme pain can run into legal and bureaucratic roadblocks. SB 311 (Hueso), bipartisan legislation that recently passed the Senate, may help.