Op-Eds

The crisis at the Employment Development Department (EDD) is continuing. Many claimants had to wait months for their benefits, thousands have had their finances devastated, while others filed phony claims that reportedly defrauded the state of over $30 billion. The Executive Branch administers state agencies, but has taken no significant steps toward reforming EDD. The Legislative Branch has stepped into the breech, and I’m very happy that my office has been able to provide assistance to thousands of constituents. Since March of 2020 when the shutdowns began, we have handled over 2100 EDD… read more
Droughts are a fact of life in California and shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Yet somehow we don’t seem capable of preparing for them. We are now in the second year of severe drought, and much of California’s agriculture, especially in the Central Valley, is facing devastation. The State Water Resources Control Board will soon vote on an “emergency curtailment” order that will prevent thousands of the state’s farmers from using major rivers and streams to irrigate their farms. Cutbacks on this scale are unprecedented and will affect our food supply. California agriculture produces… read more
High-Speed Rail. The Bullet Train. The 19th Century concept of rail travel, updated using 21st Century technology that will speed passengers from Los Angeles to the Bay Area in about 2 hours and 40 minutes. Barely enough time to enjoy a casual meal, and maybe settle in with a cocktail, while enjoying California’s blurred landscape as it rushes by at 220 miles per hour. As for the costs of this project? No worries. We were assured that several sources of funding were available, that California’s taxpayers would be protected from future funding obligations. In 2008 California’s voters passed… read more
The CA 2021/22 budget passed last month, but a series of “trailer bills” to fund specific programs passed on July 15. Many of these were policy priorities for myself and for my caucus. Programs receiving funding ranged from foster youth to childcare and development programs, to housing and homelessness. Specifically, we passed legislation to begin consolidation of California’s fractured rate structure for childcare and preschool programs. With the $2.6 Billion allocated this year alone, quality of care will be emphasized to support positive learning and developmental outcomes for children… read more
Access to the internet has become a critical part of everyday life, something many Californians take for granted. But usable broadband service has been unavailable for many. Over 670,000 Californians do not have access to a high-speed broadband connection, including 30% of rural households and 24% of homes located on tribal lands. My district is one of those. That’s why my caucus and I have long supported efforts to close the digital divide statewide. I’m happy to report that SB 156, to fund a statewide broadband network included in the 2021-22 budget, received final legislative approval on… read more
According to a report by the FBI, 2020 was the deadliest year in California since 2007, with homicides increasing by 31%. Public safety should be our priority, but we’ve been moving in the wrong direction. In California, 28% of homicides last year were gang-related, seven percent were the result of domestic violence.  Minority populations suffered the most as Hispanics accounted for 45% of homicide victims, and  African Americans, 31%.  The homicide rate in 2019 was the lowest since 1966, making last year’s spike all the more significant. On the other hand, property crimes dipped, possibly… read more
In the late 1800s, the federal government granted San Luis Rey River water rights to the cities of Vista and Escondido, depriving local tribes of water they had used for thousands of years. In essence, allocating the water rights twice.  According to Bo Mazzetti, Rincon Tribal Chairman, “The cattle were dying. The Trees were dying.” In the 1960s the tribes sued, leading to a final settlement that was eventually agreed upon 50 years later. As a member of the Escondido City Council, I was involved in helping solve this issue and extremely happy that the settlement resulted in restoration of… read more
California is now reopening its economy, something I’ve been advocating for months. As a small business owner, I understand the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on small businesses, which make up 95% of all businesses in this region and employ the vast majority of workers. We’re taking a huge step in the right direction, though it’s months too late. Eliminating mandatory shutdowns is only part of the solution. Businesses need help so that they can successfully reopen and get their employees back to work. Below I’m listing some of the resources that will help: The California Grants… read more
The Legislature just passed a budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22, and the Governor has until June 30th to sign it into law. Revisions are likely, and a series of “trailer bills” to fund specific programs will be considered over the coming months. More than $267 billion will be spent, including $195.5 billion from the General Fund. Positively, the budget increases funding for Special Education, including individuals with disabilities. More money for childcare will expand access and increasing rates for providers will help attract and retain workers. Funding for Universal Transitional Kindergarten… read more
Providing relief and dignity to terminally ill patients suffering from extreme pain can run into legal and bureaucratic roadblocks. SB 311 (Hueso), bipartisan legislation that recently passed the Senate, may help.   SB 311, known as Ryan’s Law, is named for Ryan Bartell, a terminally ill patient in Seattle who found that he was often unconscious because of opioids prescribed by his doctors to deal with his pain. He wanted to spend his remaining time with his 9-year-old son and other family members, so his father had him transferred to a hospital that allowed cannabis use. Within a day, he… read more