Op-Eds

Earlier this session I spoke on the Assembly Floor on House Resolution 7 (HR 7), that I jointly authored with Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D – San Bernardino). HR 7 declares January Human Trafficking Awareness Month in California, part of a nationwide effort to combat this growing menace. A form of modern slavery, human trafficking has grown 842% in the United States since 2007. Worldwide, there are over 40 million victims of human trafficking, 75% of the victims are women and girls, and 25% are children. Unfortunately, California, with its harbors, coastlines and international border… read more
It’s easier to prevent wildfires than to control them once they’ve started. That’s why I introduced Assembly Bill 19, which will provide $25 million for vegetation management along county-maintained roads.   Auto-related wildfires are a major problem in California. In 2016 and 2017, almost 25% of local wildfires were vehicle-related. The Carr Fire, the state’s seventh largest, began when sparks from a flat tire ignited brush along a highway in Northern California. The fire killed eight people, burned over 200,000 acres, destroyed more than 1,500 structures, and cost over $1.6 billion.   We… read more
In 2018 Governor Brown signed two bills which will have a major impact on water use in our state. AB 1668 and SB 606, which I opposed, created stringent water use mandates for all Californians.   One regulation involves a 55 gallon per day indoor water use limit. Contrary to some news reports, this is not an individual mandate. No one will be told they can’t take a shower or do laundry on the same day. The 55 gallon mandate requires water suppliers to meet that standard over the entire agency. Penalties for violations of these standards will fall directly on the agency, not individual… read more
The State Legislature returns January 6 to complete the 2019-2020 session. 80 Assemblymembers and 40 Senators will gather in the State Capitol to begin work on some of the most consequential issues that have ever faced California.    It’s likely that around 3,000 bills will be introduced over the next few weeks. All legislation must be submitted to the Office of Legislative Counsel by January 24 so that bill language can be drafted by the final introduction deadline on February 21. Bills must be passed to the alternate House by May 29, and all work must wrap up August 31st, when we finally… read more
Effective January 1st, hundreds of new laws went into effect. Some you may have heard about, but others possibly not. Several of the new laws impact veterans. Among these are legislation that makes honorably discharged veterans exempt from paying state or local business license fees for selling or providing services, if the veteran is sole proprietor. Another law exempts automotive adaptive equipment sold to veterans with service-connected disabilities from sales and use taxes. Pro bono civil legal assistance for veterans has been enhanced, and animal adoption fees at shelters for veterans… read more
This year I was principal co-author of AB 128 (Gloria), which requires any person purchasing a horse at auction, many of which are rounded up on public lands, to sign a sworn statement that the animal won’t be sold for slaughter.  Since 1971, federal law has required the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to manage wild horses. While the BLM has prohibited the sale of healthy horses to slaughterhouses, the Forest Service has not enforced a similar prohibition. Earlier this year I also signed a letter, along with many of my colleagues, to Senators Feinstein and Harris asking that… read more
With the recent heavy rains, our water supply may not be at the top of everyone’s worry list. Even so, last week the San Diego County Water Authority gave an update on the future of water in our region. The County Water Authority was created by the Legislature in 1944. Its 24 member agencies provide about 75% of our water and serve 3.3 million people. But only 17% of our water comes from local supplies, which include the nation’s largest desalination plant at Carlsbad.11% originates in Northern California, and 72% from the Colorado River. This includes a water transfer agreement with the… read more
Last week I gave the keynote speech at the State of Reform Health Policy Conference in San Diego, one of the largest, most diverse gatherings of health care executives and policy makers in California. Health care is one of my passions, and as a member of the Assembly Health Committee, I was thrilled to be invited.   Mental health is a major topic. One in six California adults experience some form of mental illness, and two-thirds of children and adolescents suffering from depressive episodes go untreated. More empowerment for locals on the front lines of mental health treatment is a must.… read more
We’re entering the holiday season, and many people could use a little extra cash. You might be interested to know that California is sitting on unclaimed properties valued at over $9 billion. Please visit claimit.ca.gov to see if any of that money belongs to you.  Why does California have so much unclaimed property? Under our Unclaimed Property Law, businesses like banks and insurance companies are required to transfer property to the Controller’s office if it goes unclaimed for a specified period of time, usually three years. Common types of unclaimed property are bank accounts, stocks,… read more
California has many powerful state agencies that impact the lives of millions. One of the most powerful, but perhaps less known or understood, is the California Public Utilities Commission.   The CPUC was created in 1911 after a constitutional amendment was approved by voters to reorganize the Railroad Commission, which was established decades earlier to regulate the state’s powerful railroad industry. In 1912, the Legislature passed the Public Utilities Act, expanding Railroad Commission authority to regulate utilities such as gas, electric and telephone companies. In 1946, voters approved… read more