Op-Eds

One-hundred, forty-seven years ago this month, 48 delegates at Colton Hall in Monterrey worked to draft California's first Constitution.  This past week, visitors to the California Museum were treated to a rare public display of both the English and Spanish versions of the original 1849 California Constitution as these documents are typically housed at the California State Archives. Though California was not officially admitted into the Union until September 9, 1850, the people of our Great State were eager to establish a formal government following the United States’ acquisition of the… read more
As the legislature adjourns for the year, I’m happy to report that two significant bills impacting mental health treatments in California are heading to the Governor’s desk.   This session I introduced Assembly Bill 1352, legislation that strengthens the voice of local mental health boards to help meet the needs of the mentally ill. The Bronzan-McCorquodale Act requires county mental health systems to provide services to those with serious emotional disturbance or mental illness. The Act also created local mental health boards, responsible for reviewing community needs and services. The… read more
This session, several important bills were blocked in the Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees. While good bills die, others, like allowing felons to serve on juries got support.   The Renter's Tax Credit to help low and middle income renters has not been increased in decades to keep up with the cost of living. Senate Bill 248 (Steve Glazer D - Orinda) would have helped millions. A major priority of the legislature is tackling high housing costs, yet renters were let down. Assembly Bill 211 (Ian Calderon D – Whittier) incentivized college savings by allowing tax deductions for… read more
Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is one of the most effective tools available for treating severely mentally ill persons. Legislation known as Laura’s Law was introduced in 2001 by Assemblymember Helen Thomson (D – Davis) in an effort to make AOT available throughout California.  My subsequent legislation, AB 59, extended the sunset date an additional 5 years.  Laura’s Law allows court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment for mentally ill patients in participating counties. It is aimed at individuals who are at risk of danger to themselves and others with the goal of helping mentally ill… read more
In a big win for California homeowners, the State Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that direct the state to return $331 million it diverted from Californian's with mortgages hurt by negative lending practices during the economic downturn.   In 2012, the State of California received $410 million from a lawsuit involving the nation’s five largest mortgage services – Ally (formerly GMAC), Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, all of which had been charged with multiple federal lending violations. The settlement was intended to provide funding for legal aid,… read more
Our first responders make lots of sacrifices to protect the rest of us and this can take a toll on them, as well as their families. In a 2016 behavioral health study, roughly three-fourths of the surveyed peace officers reported having experienced a traumatic event, but less than half reported it to their agency. Even more troubling, about half of the officers reported personally knowing a peer who changed after experiencing a traumatic event, and about half reported knowing an officer who committed suicide. First responders are trained to deal with very stressful, emotional and life-… read more
Caring for animals, including California’s native wildlife, is one of my passions. Last session my legislation setting up the Native California Wildlife Rehabilitation Fund was signed into law, allowing voluntary contributions when you file your tax return to support injured, orphaned or sick wildlife.   Helping finance organizations that support native wildlife is important. If you've found an injured animal and need information on where to take it, please call: 619-225-WILD (9453) for Project Wildlife.   Fortunately, we have a number of outstanding local wildlife organizations in this… read more
This region has made tremendous strides toward diversifying its water portfolio.  In Riverside County, groundwater desalination is moving forward to take full advantage of all available sources of water. Plans for Water Banking, which will take Northern California water imported during wet years to restore local aquifers for use during dry years, are also progressing. Since the droughts of the early 90s, San Diego has taken some costly steps to diversify its water sources, and those steps are succeeding. By 2020, San Diego will only be importing 11% of its water from MWD. 35% of our water… read more
People who drive I-15 in southwest Riverside or northern San Diego Counties are no strangers to traffic jams. In fact, with 205,000 cars daily, the section through Temecula is considered the 10th worst congested freeway segment in the country.   Fortunately, help is on the way. The City of Temecula has just been awarded a $50 million U.S. Department of Transportation Infrastructure & Rebuilding America (INFRA) Grant, in support of the Interstate 15/French Valley Pkwy, Phase II Project. The city had already secured $60 million of the total $110 million cost of Phase II. The project will… read more
The California Arts Council has established 14 state-designated Cultural Districts, including three in San Diego County. These Cultural Districts are a direct result of passage of Assembly Bill 189 in 2016, a bill I co-authored with Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D – Santa Monica).   San Diego’s three Cultural Districts include Balboa Park, home to 17 museums and the San Diego Zoo, Barrio Logan, which includes Chicano Park with 79 historic murals, and in North County, the Oceanside Cultural District., which celebrates the city’s Beach City heritage, museums and growing arts scene.   The budget… read more