Op-Eds

In 2020, there were just under 46,000 suicides in the United States, making it the nation’s 12th-leading cause of death. California’s suicide rate is 10.7 per 100,000, compared to 13.4 nationally. Suicide rates across the United States have been increasing, and are now double homicide rates. Obviously, more can be done to end this ongoing tragedy. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and this session I co-authored Assembly Concurrent Resolution 37, declaring September 5 through September 11 Suicide Prevention Week in California. To view ACR 37, please click here. While suicide… read more
Legislation in Sacramento often flies under the radar. Here are a few bills you may have missed that made it through, along with some that didn’t: Bills forwarded to the Governor that remain unsigned as of this writing include AB 2188, prohibiting employers from terminating or refusing to hire persons using cannabis if impaired work performance is unproven; SB 70, requiring children to complete a year of kindergarten before entering the first grade; and SB 1157, phasing in additional water conservation targets by reducing indoor use from 52.5 gallons per person/day (gpcd) to 42 gpcd by 2030… read more
In 2011, federal courts ruled that California prisons were overcrowded -- populations had to be reduced. As a result, Assembly Bill 109 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The state’s prison system was “realigned,” meaning the responsibility to incarcerate, monitor and track lower-level offenders would now rest with the counties, not the state. 80 percent of incarcerated felons have Substance Use Disorders (SUDs), and in the San Diego region alone, 1 in 3 arrestees in 2018 tested positive for more than one drug. But county jails weren’t funded or equipped to hold felons serving… read more
The 2021-2022 legislative session is history --- we adjourned around 1:30 a.m. on September 1st. As usual, some of the most significant legislation was delayed until the last days, with votes sometimes occurring late at night and in the wee hours of the morning. In light of continuing attempts to place Sexually Violent Predators (SVPs) in rural San Diego County, I was a big supporter SB 1034 which creates more structure and transparency to make local authorities and stakeholders participants in the SVP placement process. I’m happy to report that SB 1034 passed without opposition. Other… read more
California’s mental health system is struggling to keep up with demand.  Those seriously in need of treatment are trapped in a rotating cycle that takes them from living on the street, to the emergency room, sometimes to jail, then back to the street. Since more serious cases get the most attention, people with milder symptoms don’t receive needed care and often fall into the same cycle. Today, only about a third of Californians with mental illness receive the care they need, and 31 of California’s 58 counties with a “high need” for mental health services report a shortage of mental health… read more
California is once again in a serious drought, the second in a decade. This is a recurring problem in the arid West, but even in dry periods, we should have enough water to meet our needs. Voters understood that in 2014 when they approved a $7.5 billion water bond, which included $2.7 billion to fund construction of new dams and reservoirs. Unfortunately, few projects are underway, or even in the planning stage.  Our largest dams and reservoirs were built before 1979, most between 1945 and 1968, when our population was less than half its current size. My caucus and I have long supported… read more
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