Op-Eds

Our veterans have never failed us, but sometimes we fail them. Adrian Darren Bonar, a U.S. Army Veteran, is a tragic example.  After serving three tours of duty in Iraq, he returned home to North County suffering from PTSD.  But due to poor consistency of local treatment services; turning to drugs, he was ultimately murdered. Sadly, his case is not that unusual. VFW statistics from 2019 indicate that the Veteran's Administration (VA) system is tracking more than 64,000 veterans with opioid disorders, and this number has more than doubled since 2002. Wait times for mental health services are… read more
We’re in the last month of a two-year legislative session. During August, we’ll be voting on approximately 1,200 bills, over 500 in the Assembly and about 700 in the Senate. These include my AB 2768, which addresses the critical shortage of psychiatric beds by leading to the development of a real-time, internet-based app providing information on available beds/facilities to serve mentally ill patients in emergency rooms and in ambulance transport.  With 31 counties reporting a shortage of behavioral healthcare workers, I joined Senator Scott Weiner as co-author of SB 964 to deal with the… read more
California’s spending priorities are often seriously out-of-whack. We spend billions on a bullet train to nowhere that few will ever ride, yet we refuse to spend available funds on new dams, reservoirs and aqueducts during repeated periods of drought. Once-in-a-while though, we get it right. Our local fire departments are essential for public safety, responding to the ever-present threat of wildfires, along with other life threatening emergencies like automobile accidents and heart attacks. Ensuring they have the means to respond quickly and effectively has been a big priority for me in… read more
Supply chain problems have been negatively impacting California and the rest of the nation for months. Look at any new car lot and you see the lack of inventory. Even buying products at the store is difficult.  A big part of the problem has been the backup caused by the lack of trucks to move products from the ports to markets and consumers throughout the United States. Now the problem may become much worse. In 2019, the Legislature pushed through AB 5, in my view one of the most devastating laws to impact business in California’s recent history. The bill was an ill-conceived attempt to deal… read more
Tribal fire departments are an integral part of California’s wildfire defense. The growing cooperation between Cal Fire, and local and tribal fire departments throughout California is testimony to the dedication of our first responders who safeguard our lives and our homes every day. San Diego County has 18 Indian Reservations, more than any other county in the nation. Six of those lie within the current boundaries of the 75th Assembly District, which I represent in Sacramento. Due to redistricting, the boundaries of the 75th District are expanding to include most of East San Diego County,… read more
Last week, the Governor and his Supermajority allies in the Legislature agreed on final budget trailer bills for the new Fiscal Year. Spending will reach a record $307 billion. While I have concerns about many of the budget’s priorities, there is some good news. Bright spots include increased funding for education. There will be a historic increase in the Local Control Funding Formula base grant for public schools. There will be more money for home-to-school transportation, for school facilities, special education and instructional materials. Higher Education gets a boost too, including… read more
California agriculture produces one-third of the country’s vegetables, two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, and generates around $50 billion in annual revenue. We are the nation’s breadbasket, and we help feed much of the world by exporting over $20 billion in agricultural commodities every year. According to the San Diego County Farm Bureau, the County’s agricultural production ranks 19th out of over 3,000 counties nationwide. Much of that agriculture is centered right here, in the 75th Assembly District. But agriculture is vulnerable, dependent on weather, unstable markets, fertilizer costs/… read more
California still has the highest gasoline prices in the U.S. along with the highest gas taxes. Gasoline is averaging $6.40 per gallon across California, inflation is escalating, people are hurting. Immediate relief is needed, and the simplest, fastest remedy would be suspension of the gasoline tax at both federal and state levels. It’s been over 100 days since the Governor first called for gas tax relief, but nothing has happened. Despite our $97.5 billion surplus, the majority in the Legislature can’t come to an agreement about how to grant relief. The new idea is a small rebate of $250 to… read more
Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is one of the most effective tools available for treating severely mentally ill persons. Legislation known as Laura’s Law was introduced in 2001 to make AOT available for persons who meet specified criteria for involuntary commitment, such as presenting a danger to themselves or others, or who are gravely disabled. My subsequent legislation, AB 59, extended the sunset date of Laura’s Law, and a majority of California’s 58 counties are now participating. This year I will be joining Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D – Stockton) to co-author Senate Bill 1035… read more
What happens to Sexually Violent Predators (SVPs) once they’ve served their sentences? Apparently, they get dumped in rural San Diego County. Rural areas lack resources to supervise conditionally released SVPs and guarantee public safety. In San Diego County, multiple SVPs have been placed in Jacumba Hot Springs, Campo and Boulevard, with proposed placements in communities like Pauma Valley and Borrego Springs. I’ve written letters in the past opposing placement of SVPs in rural communities, including in 2020 when I wrote to the Superior Court regarding placing an SVP in Pauma Valley.… read more