Last week I was joined by several tribal chairpersons, including Chairman Robert Smith of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, and Chairman Bo Mazzetti of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians when I spoke in support of ACR 17, which formally proclaims September 22nd Native American Day in California.  On that day, tribal members from throughout the state and legislators from both parties will meet on the south steps of the Capitol to celebrate tribal history, culture and sovereignty. California has more federally recognized Indian tribes than any other state, and San Diego County is home to more… read more
Have you ever seen people out there throwing colorful discs in some of our local parks?  If you’re not familiar with the sport, I encourage you to take a look at Disc Golf. I am hoping to name August as “Disc Golf Month” each year in California.  Here’s why: The game is similar to golf, with a tee at the starting position and a “hole” consisting of a basket with hanging chains amid obstacles such as trees, hills or water hazards. But unlike golf, players use a disc similar but leaner than a Frisbee. Like golf, the person with the least attempts per hole wins. Today the sport is extremely… read more
California should be doing more to help small business succeed.  Last week a ceremony at the County Administration Building sponsored by the Cook Alliance and Institute for Justice celebrated Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKOs), established under Assembly Bill 626 in 2018, legislation I strongly supported. MEHKOs empower home cooks to attain self-sufficiency, turning neighborhoods throughout California into hotbeds of food innovation. MEHKOs provide supplemental income for lower income individuals, and create economic opportunities by allowing business formation at minimal cost… read more
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), recently approved a demonstration project in California to provide pre-release services and improved access to care for persons being released from jails and prisons. Nationally, 80% of individuals released from prison each year have a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). In 2021, I introduced AB 1214 to provide Medicaid coverage, including coverage for drug addictions for incarcerated individuals immediately prior to their release which was included in the state’s health… read more
Ensuring the well-being of all animals is one of my big priorities. Over the years I have introduced and supported bills that provide funding to care for native wildlife, protect wild horses and burros, limit unnecessary animal testing, and many more. This session, I introduced AB 829, which is currently pending in the Legislature. AB 829 expands counseling requirements for those on probation for animal cruelty, and gives judges discretion to order mental health evaluations based on trial evidence. Given established correlations between animal abuse, child abuse, domestic violence and other… read more
Bills that made it through the Senate and Assembly by the “House of Origin Deadline on June 2nd must pass a final floor vote by September 14, when we adjourn for the year. Approximately 1100 bills are currently pending in both houses and the Governor will have until October 14 to sign or veto everything that reaches his desk. This session I’m supporting several important healthcare-related bills. They include Senate Bill 635 (Senators Menjivar & Portantino), which requires health insurers to cover medically-necessary hearing aids for persons under 21 years old.  It’s estimated that two-… read more
Local fire departments are essential for public safety. By responding rapidly to wildfires and other emergencies, they save countless lives. Ensuring they have the means to perform this critical task has been a big priority for me in Sacramento. Through recent budget cycles, I have obtained almost $14 million for fire agencies in many parts of San Diego County. For example, I acquired funding for the Rincon Fire Department for a new brush fire apparatus and other badly needed upgrades. Just last week, I was invited to a community ceremony inaugurating the Valley Center Fire Protection… read more
Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing illicit industry, after drug trafficking. Worldwide, it’s estimated that there are over 40 million victims of human trafficking. 75% are women and girls, 25% are children. Recent studies indicate that San Diego County has become a human trafficking hub, and with up to 8,000 victims per year, it’s one of the country’s 13 worst human trafficking regions. Girls and women are frequent victims, but boys are often targeted. Up to 50% of trafficked children in the U.S. may be boys, and the average age of entry is between 11-13 years of age… read more
During the pandemic, the Employment Development Department (EDD) virtually collapsed, and legislative offices like mine stepped into the breach. My office alone handled over 3,000 unemployment cases. Solving that immediate crisis was critical for constituents needing their unemployment benefits, but the bill to cover those payments has come due. Twenty-two states, including California, were forced to borrow billions from the federal government because of a federal law requiring EDD claims to be paid whether or not states have the funds. Currently, California owes the federal government $18.9… read more
California’s $310.6 billion budget for the new Fiscal Year was approved in mid-June. Trailer bills that make specific funding allocations for state agencies and programs are receiving approval and in many cases are still under review. As often happens, politically expedient wants are often placed above essentials. For example, spending plans still include $4.2 billion for the high-speed rail boondoggle. Even so, the budget contains positives that I was pleased to support. Chief among these are funding to improve usability and safety of existing dams. Even though the measure inexplicably… read more