Op-Eds

The Senate Bill 1 gas tax increase promised to fix our crumbling highways and roads.  That promise was short-lived. Last month, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order redirecting the state’s $5 billion annual transportation funds from highway/road repairs toward reducing congestion via "strategies designed to encourage people to shift from cars to other modes of transportation” including mass transit, walking and biking, the governor’s executive order said. The order also calls for $61 million to be “held in reserve for priority rail projects.”  Read more here: https://bit.ly/2MCu0QM This… read more
Synchronizing traffic lights will not only reduce the time we sit at traffic lights, but will also reduce tons of emissions with benefits to business and our economy.  In response to a study conducted in Salinas, CA, 5 intersections on their main street had installed traffic signal synchronization and saved 15.8 TONS of GHG emissions in ONE year!  Not to mention the cost benefit ratio of 50:1. Studies show that synchronization projects can reduce traffic delays by up to 30% and in 41 California cities, synchronization resulted in travel time reductions of 6.5% and fuel consumption declined… read more
The 52nd Native American Day was celebrated September 27, as a time to honor and remember the contributions of California’s tribal nations, to recognize their sovereignty and the tremendous challenges they have long faced, along with their remarkable resilience and achievements. San Diego County, with 18 reservations, covering over 190 square miles, has more reservations than any other county in the United States – and 8 of these  are within the 75th Assembly District. Tribal sovereignty is critically important in that we recognize Tribal Governments as sovereign nations separate from the… read more
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