On April 26, due to time-consuming debates in previous sessions and untimely equipment failures, the Health Committee, which I serve as Vice Chair, dealt with 56 bills in a hearing that lasted well into the evening.  Several important pieces of legislation made it through the committee. Among these were two bills that I introduced, Assembly Bills 2818 and 2768. AB 2818 will ultimately lead to the expansion of the substance use disorder treatment workforce in California to aid in treatment of alcohol and drug abuse. More professionals in the workforce will lead to better treatment for abusers… read more
The rising cost of virtually everything is costing Californians dearly. March inflation surged to 8.5%, the largest increase in 40 years. This spike, driven largely by the cost of gasoline, made March the tenth straight month with inflation over 5%. So what’s the solution? One important step would be to suspend our 51 cent per gallon gas tax, the nation’s highest. Not only is this a direct tax on those with the least ability to pay, it drives up the cost of all goods shipped on our highways – in other words – everything. Over the past 12 months, groceries rose 10% overall, with meats,… read more
Last November the Centers for Disease Control reported over 100,000 overdose deaths in the United States, a new record.  This represented a 30% increase over the previous year, a number driven by fentanyl and related substances. 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin, fentanyl is a deadly scourge. Fentanyl is often found in counterfeit pills that look like legitimate medication -- one kilogram can contain 500,000 lethal doses. Since 2013, China has been a major source of fentanyl-related substances and the chemicals from which they are produced. The drugs… read more
Under California’s constitution, the Legislature must produce a balanced budget by June 15th, and it has to be signed into law no later than June 30th. Expenditures over the coming Fiscal Year are expected to be around $286 billion. Drafting a budget for a state larger than most countries is a monumental task. California’s constitution requires the Governor to introduce a budget by January 10th. That proposal is analyzed by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, which forwards its analysis to the Legislature for use in debates over drafting the final new spending plan. Once the… read more
The bipartisan California Legislative Women’s Caucus (LWC) was formed in 1985 by nine Democrats and six Republicans. Today, 38 of the Legislature’s 120 members are women -- the Caucus now includes 14 Senators and 24 Assemblymembers.  According to its bylaws, the Legislative Women’s caucus “encourages collegiality, participation in and cooperation among elected women in California government to promote the interests of women, children and families through legislation.” The LWC has just announced its Priority Bill Package for 2022. One bill requires that victims of domestic violence have… read more
This year California observed AG Day on March 23nd; a day we celebrate our state's unique contributions to the nation’s food supply. California has been recognized as the country’s number one agricultural state for over 60 years, supplying about 50 percent of our fruit, vegetables and nuts. AG Day gives me an opportunity to remind my Northern California colleagues of this region’s significance in maintaining our agricultural leadership. According to the San Diego County Farm Bureau, San Diego County ranks as the 19th largest farm economy out of over 3,000 U.S. counties. We are the number 1… read more
Californians are fed up with the state’s inability to deal with homelessness. With 12% of the nation’s population, we have 30% of its homeless and 47% of the total unsheltered population. In recent years, we have thrown $17 billion at the problem, yet there are no appreciable results. In fact, the situation has grown much worse; we have become a national embarrassment. It’s way past time to find real solutions. This session, my caucus in Sacramento has introduced a comprehensive bill package to deal with the root causes of homelessness, including substance use disorders, mental illness,… read more
Every day, gasoline prices set a new record. While some of the recent increase is attributed to uncertainty following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, prices have been shooting up for over a year and there’s no end in sight. That is why I am supporting legislation to suspend the gas tax and I  joined a bipartisan group of legislators urging the Governor to take advantage of California’s abundant inland natural resources. Instead, the Governor has offered only partial relief and tax rebates that will come far too late for many commuters. With no oil pipelines connecting us to other states,… read more
Assembly Bill 1031, which I introduced in 2017, is having a big impact on the welfare of California’s native wildlife. The bill provides funding to help injured, orphaned or sick wildlife receive care and rehabilitation provided by non-profit, rehabilitation organizations throughout the state. Through the Native California Wildlife Rehabilitation Fund set up under AB 1031, taxpayers can voluntarily check off a deductible contribution when they file their individual state tax returns. On a daily basis, California’s animal rehabilitation organizations rescue injured, sick or orphaned wildlife… read more
The recreational use of marijuana, legalized by Proposition 64 in 2016, has not eliminated illegal marijuana grow sites in many rural areas throughout the state. The illicit marijuana market continues to thrive, financed by consumers seeking to avoid taxes imposed on sales at legal dispensaries. In our own region, huge illegal marijuana farms have been seized over the past few years. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reported that in 2 years it located 1,576 illegal grows, with 2.5 million plants. The human toll can be staggering, including murder. At a grow house east of Temecula,… read more