Op-Eds

The pandemic has thrown millions out of work and created massive problems at California’s Employment Development Department (EDD), the agency empowered to provide Unemployment Insurance (UI) to laid-off workers. Between March and May, EDD experienced a 3400% increase in claims compared to January/February. From March 8 to July 18, EDD processed 8.7 million claims, including 6.8 million standard UI claims and 1.4 million Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims. The agency has paid out a total of $49.7 billion in benefits, and reports that 94% of requests for assistance have been… read more
Several employees in the Capitol and 2 Assemblymembers tested positive for COVID last month which stopped our work in its tracks.  This week marks the start of a short, final month for the 2019 – 2020 session. Public safety is a priority, and I am very proud to join Assemblymembers Cooper, Bonta and Gonzalez to co-author AB 664. The March 4 state of emergency declaration requires all peace officers, firefighters and health-care workers to remain on the job -- for our protection. Since this places them at heightened risk, we must do all we can to protect them. AB 664 provides full hospital,… read more
The DMV has extended the time for drivers license renewals that had expired during the period of March 2020 on.  All drivers under age 69 were extended until July 31 with expanded online renewal available. Commercial license renewal extended until Sept. 30, 2020.  Learners permits from March 2020 also extended 6 months.  This is good news for many. My office has been contacted by many people over age 70 with concerns about their expiring driver licenses. State law requires those over 70 to visit the DMV in person to renew their licenses. Since appointments are not currently available, how… read more
In California, opioid and heroin use is a major threat to public health, and is the leading cause of death for those under 50. It’s a major cause of crime, and contributes directly to high recidivism rates in our prison system. That’s why I’ve introduced Assembly Bill 1304 (AB 1304), co-authored by Senator Tom Umberg (D – Santa Ana), which will provide Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for eligible parolees who volunteer to participate. MAT is an innovative treatment program that uses medications combined with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders. Findings… read more
Independence Day is traditionally a time to go to the beach, have backyard barbecues and close out the day watching fireworks. But this year, the celebrations won’t be as wide-spread, the beaches will be much less crowded. The limited July 4th activities may be appropriate since it provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on what the day is really about. 244 years ago, a group of agricultural colonies with a population of less than 3 million, scattered along the coast from Canada to Florida, with no army or navy, decided to declare its independence and take on the world’s greatest empire… read more
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, state revenues began to plummet, while spending on unemployment insurance and social programs increased exponentially. The result -- our $21 billion surplus suddenly transformed into a $54.3 billion deficit.  The budget that passed on June 15th was the beginning of discussions between the Governor and the Legislature over a series of trailer bills that implement the budget. Questions remained about how to maintain California’s fiscal solvency without the proposed deep cuts to education, public safety and safety net programs that were on the chopping block… read more
One of my passions in public service is encouraging young women to fulfill their life’s potential by taking full advantage of available educational opportunities. As Minority Leader and a member of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, I am happy to spread the word about the Minerva Scholarship program, established by the Women in California Leadership Foundation to educate, support and empower young women and girls. The Foundation is committed to providing select young women of good character and demonstrated accomplishments with scholarships to help them achieve their objectives. Applications… read more
Last March our economy slammed on the brakes and thousands were thrown out of work. Millions filed for Unemployment Insurance (UI). The Employment Development Department, known as EDD, has processed $26 billion in benefits over 12 weeks, vs $22 billion during the entire recession of 2008. This amounts to 14% of all claims filed nationally. Even so, many unemployed workers have run into problems that have delayed payments for weeks or even months. The deluge of claims overwhelmed EDD, which is in the process of hiring 4,800 new workers. Cases are now being prioritized based on immediate need… read more
In March the Legislature recessed due to the COVID-19 emergency. This recess was unprecedented in our history and underscored a critical problem. While California lawmakers continued to work from their districts, they cannot vote on legislation when they are unable to meet in Sacramento. When it comes to technology, our Legislature is stuck in the past. The recent recess and current social unrest have shown that it can be unsafe for Members, their staff and the public to attend proceedings in the Capitol. We lack clear authority to hold remote hearings during emergency shutdowns. This leaves… read more
This week the California Assembly convened a historic meeting; one that has not happened in 25 years.  Called the “Committee of the Whole,” it is when the entire Assembly comes together to serve as an 80-member budget committee to address this deficit budget cycle. Committee of the Whole meetings are rare and only occur during a crisis. In 1995, the last time it happened, the Legislature was considering the financial fallout from Orange County’s bankruptcy. This time of course, we are facing a huge budget shortfall caused by the Coronavirus-induced recession. With tax revenues falling and… read more