Op-Eds

As co-chair of the Assembly Rare Disease caucus, we recognize the struggle of patients and their families living with rare diseases. Among these are almost 7,000 diseases and conditions considered rare, with 80 percent of those considered ultra-rare. By definition, a disease is considered rare when it affects fewer than 200,000 people. Since only a relatively small number of people are involved, treatments for these diseases can be limited, have sky-high costs or are completely unavailable. That’s where Orphan Drugs come in. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the Orphan Drug Act to… read more
Wildfires are an ever-present threat in California. Last year was the worst on record with over 4.2 million acres burned. As we can all remember, local fires such as the Cedar, Witch, Cocos, Guejito, and Lilac fires have devastated this region as well. We’ve been spending billions trying to prevent and fight wildfires, but the situation has worsened. What we’ve been doing simply hasn’t worked. We need a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to preventing wildfires, which is why I am joining Assemblyman James Gallagher of Yuba City to co-author Assembly Bill 297, the Wildfire Prevention and… read more
Last week I supported bi-partisan legislation signed by the Governor to mitigate the economic and social damage done by the long, state-imposed COVID shutdowns. This legislative package, funded without new taxes from existing General Fund revenues, included a bill I co-authored to provide assistance for small businesses and nonprofits, many right here in our region. Thousands of businesses throughout California have seen their revenues plummet, with many forced into bankruptcy. $2.1 billion will be appropriated for the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program. Grants up to $25… read more
Lake Wohlford Dam is an important water storage, flood control and recreational facility that has served Escondido for generations. Restoring storage capacity and making it earthquake-safe is critically important, which is why I introduced AB 692. The dam was originally constructed in 1895 to store water transported via a wooden flume from the San Luis Rey River to Escondido. One of the first rock-fill dams in California, Lake Wohlford Dam was 76 feet high and had a storage capacity of about 3500 acre-feet. But in 1916 the region was struck with one of our frequent droughts. San Diego hired… read more
The economic fallout from the pandemic has made it difficult for thousands of Californians to keep a roof over their heads. Early on, federal funding provided some assistance to renters and landlords alike, but many were unable to access that aid. More needed to be done. That’s why I joined my colleagues to pass Senate Bill 91 (SB 91), bipartisan legislation that was signed into law by Governor Newsom.  The bill, which became effective February 1st, provides assistance to qualified landlords and their tenants for up to 80 percent of unpaid rent that has accumulated since the pandemic began.… read more
The Governor has recently announced a partial reopening for many California businesses. The general stay-at-home order is rescinded, and most California counties are back in the “purple” tier, allowing personal services like barbershops and hair salons to reopen, while allowing restaurants to provide outdoor dining for their customers. These steps are welcomed, but I have concerns about how these decisions are made and what data is being used. We appear to be lurching from one plan to another, causing widespread confusion and severe economic distress. Contradictory, constantly changing… read more
California’s high cost of living, crumbling infrastructure, rising crime and constant threat of natural disasters always present challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse by stressing ICU capacity, causing tragic loss of life, damaging our economy and robbing many students of a year’s education. During the upcoming budget discussions, I am urging the Governor to follow a path relying on science to best respond to the pandemic. More than 2.6 million people lost their jobs between March and May 2020, Millions saw their wages cut, hundreds of businesses permanently closed. This… read more
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of about 1.8 million people worldwide, approximately 27,000 of which are right here in California. The virus captures our attention, while many other long-standing issues are ignored. We aren’t prepared for the next drought, wildfires pose an ever-increasing threat, and our insufficient power grid has led to rolling blackouts as a fire prevention tactic. Violent crime is rising and our already-failing education system is in shambles after almost a year of COVID-19. Homelessness is a national disgrace. The exodus of Californians into more livable states is… read more
“Overdose deaths far outpace COVID-19 deaths in San Francisco” was a recent headline from the Associated Press highlighting the troubling fact that while COVID-19 is the most immediate threat facing Californians, it is not the only one worthy of our attention. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of about 1.8 million people worldwide, approximately 27,000 of which are right here in California. The virus has captured our attention through much of the past year, with good reason. But the heavy focus on COVID-19 has left too many other issues either overlooked or ignored. Many of these issues… read more
On January 1st, hundreds of new laws went into effect. Many are non-controversial or have limited impact, but some will directly affect the lives of thousands of Californians.  Among these are laws impacting businesses and employees. California’s minimum wage will increase to $14 for companies with 26 or more employees and $13 for smaller companies. California companies with 5 or more employees (instead of 50 or more) will now be required to provide 12 weeks of family leave. All publicly owned companies based in California will be required to have at least one woman on their board of… read more