California is increasingly unaffordable. We have the nation’s most expensive housing and the highest energy costs. We must reform policies that increase costs and impose burdensome fees on every home built, including rental units, making it difficult or impossible to find a place for many to live. State energy policies that drive up electricity costs, and our highest-in-the-nation gas prices/taxes, need serious reform. Water is another problem. Bureaucratic hurdles blocking new dams must be revised. Current storms may fill existing reservoirs, built for a much smaller population, but additional water storage facilities are needed to serve agriculture and almost 40 million Californians.
Public safety should be a top priority. But from fentanyl trafficking to smash and grabs, leniency has been disastrous. Penalties for purveyors of fentanyl and other deadly poisons need to be strengthened. My legislation allowing life sentences for fentanyl traffickers if they cause death or serious injury was blocked by the majority, despite skyrocketing death rates. And we can cut down on smash and grabs if we allow felony penalties for thefts, including those under $950, as in legislation I authored last session.
The placement of Sexually Violent Predators in San Diego County is ongoing. Residential neighborhoods and rural communities where families try to raise children in a safe environment aren’t equipped to cope with the SVP moving in next door; nor should they have to. The entire placement process needs revision.
Homelessness is getting worse, despite billions spent. Causes overlap, and include housing costs, mental illness and drug addiction. My legislation allowing Medication-Assisted Treatment for drug addicted inmates under county supervision will help keep drugs off the streets, while also helping to reduce opioid deaths and crime. Mental health is an important issue affecting so many families. Working to increase parity between mental health and physical health is one of the main issues our bi-partisan Mental Health caucus works on. Increasing access to care and needed treatments must be a priority, including increasing the number of treatment providers. But it’s just part of the puzzle. We must consider every tool available to solve these complex problems.
These issues, and many more, are nonpartisan and need immediate attention. The 2023 session will be busy, and hopefully, productive.