May is National Military Appreciation Month, and includes several national observances honoring our veterans and their families. These include Victory in Europe (VE) Day on May 8th, Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 10th, Armed Forces Day on May 18th and Memorial Day on May 27th.   But supporting our veterans involves more than holidays or national commemorations. This session I have joined with Assemblyman William Brough (R – Dana Point) to co-author Assembly Bill 427. The bill would exclude military retirement pay from the state’s income tax.  20 states do not tax military benefits… read more
Since joining the Legislature I have authored, co-authored and supported numerous bills aimed at protecting pets and wildlife. Fortunately, most of this legislation is now law.  My bills include legislation that created the Native California Wildlife Rehabilitation Voluntary Fund, allowing taxpayers to check off contributions on their tax returns to support injured or sick wildlife. Another bill prohibits the sale or transfer of shelter animals to research facilities for experimentation or testing.  I co-authored legislation limiting the use of mile-long gill nets and encouraging the… read more
Over the past few years, the Cedar, Witch, Cocos, Guejito, Paradise and Lilac fires have taught us a lot.  The need to be proactive is critical. That’s why I introduced Assembly Bill 19, for fire prevention and roadway vegetation management.  Auto-related wildfires are a major problem in California. In 2016 and 2017, almost 25% of local wildfires were vehicle-related. The seventh most destructive fire in state history, last year’s Carr Fire in Northern California, killed eight people, burned over 229,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,500 structures. The fire started when sparks caused by a… read more
Mental health and drug addiction are often co-occurring disorders, with a big impact. I have been working on commonsense, bi-partisan solutions to these problems since my days on the city council.  As a member of the Mental Health Caucus, I serve on several committees that deal directly with these issues, including Assembly Health Committee and the Select Committee on Health Care Delivery & Universal Coverage. I am also a member of the Stanford 5 Year Initiative on Neuroscience, a working group that fosters communications between policymakers and researchers regarding mental health and… read more
April 2 was National Equal Pay Day, which marks the EXTRA time an average woman has to work to take home what a man earned last year. As a member of the California Pay Equity Task Force, I am working with my colleagues to identify the causes of the pay gap.  California passed an Equal Pay Act in 1949. The act banned companies from paying anyone less than a coworker doing the same work, solely because of their gender.   Even so, women continue to earn significantly less than their male counterparts. In California, where we pride ourselves on treating others fairly, women take home 86 cents… read more
California is the world’s tech capitol. Some of the most technologically advanced companies like Uber, Facebook, and Apple were born in Silicon Valley. While our private sector can master startups and see them flourish, almost every IT project the state tries to implement  is over budget, past due and outdated.  We should be able to access our government, increase public transparency for legislation and government documents, create efficiencies and save taxpayer dollars.  Even doing more online transactions for DMV would be a big start.  Last summer the state unveiled its $290 million tax… read more
California could be holding some of your money. According to State Controller Betty Yee, California is sitting on unclaimed properties valued at $9.3 billion!  But there’s great news - you can get it back. I encourage you to visit claimit.ca.gov to see if any of these unclaimed funds belong to you.   How did this huge pot accumulate? Under California’s Unclaimed Property Law, businesses like banks and insurance companies are required to transfer property to the Controller’s office if it goes unclaimed for a specified period of time, usually three years. Common types of unclaimed property are… read more
This week a solemn ceremony took place in Escondido unveiling the big green signs to designate a portion of I-15 in Escondido, as ”CAL FIRE Firefighter Cory Iverson Memorial Highway.”  It was an honor and privilege to carry ACR 205, to create this designation recognizing, along with firefighters and other first responders from across California, a hometown hero who made the supreme sacrifice.   Cory Iverson, an Escondido native, was just 32 years old when he died fighting on the front lines of Ventura County’s devastating Thomas Fire in 2017.  An 8-year CAL FIRE veteran, he had worked 7… read more
Are you a realtor, salon worker, trucker or lawyer? Do you work in or own a small business?  Last year's California Supreme Court ruling involving independent contractors may affect you. The Court changed the definition of employees and contractors, impacting businesses, the economy, and the employment of thousands. In its “Dynamex” ruling, the Court presumes that ALL workers are company employees and places stringent limitations on the definition of independent contractors by adopting a three-part test to determine a worker’s status. The new “ABC” test states that workers are company… read more
California’s opioid and heroin use disorder has become a major threat to public health, especially among the young.  Drug overdose, mostly from opioids, is the leading cause of death among those under 50, with nearly 2,000 Californians dying from opioid overdoses in 2016 alone.  However, California has a severe lack of certified providers to treat the condition.  That's why I have authored Assembly Bill 319 along with Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (D – Baldwin Park), which will go a long way to encourage more providers and treatment options around our state, including underserved rural areas,… read more