Op-Eds

The Employment Development Department (EDD) has been mired in crisis for more than a year now. The massive backlog in unemployment claim processing hasn’t really budged, millions of daily calls go unanswered, fraud is rampant -- estimated  at $11 to $31 billion, and appeals can take over three months; the failure list is long. There’s plenty of blame to go around too. Former Governor Jerrry Brown ignored a 2011 audit that pointed out EDD’s shortcomings, and new directives from the Governor have proven to be inadequate and ineffective. So, what can be done to fix this mess?  I recently met… read more
This year California observed AG Day on March 22nd; a day we celebrate our state's unique contributions to the nation’s food supply. It’s also an opportunity for me to remind legislators from north of the Tehachapi Mountains that our region helps make California the country’s leading agricultural state. Agriculture is a major contributor to our economy. According to the 2019 Crop Report, California’s agricultural output generated $50 billion, with exports totaling $21.7 billion. Top commodities for export included almonds, pistachios, walnuts, dairy and dairy products, and of course, wine.… read more
We all know, public safety was front and center last year, and will continue to be a big issue this year. This includes things like officer records, officer training, and oversight, to name a few. The Covid outbreak within our prison system was not handled well, with well-reported outbreaks and deaths amongst prison staff, including correctional officers, and those incarcerated. In an attempt to reduce drug addiction and repeat offenses, one of my bills, AB 653 will create a county grant for substance use  treatments in county jails and for those on supervised parole. I am also introducing… read more
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