Op-Eds

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
California is no stranger to natural and man-made emergencies. The recent quakes in Kern and San Bernardino Counties are another reminder that living in the Golden State has a price.   The State Constitution grants immense power to the Governor to deal with emergencies. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), which began as the State War Council in 1943, coordinates California’s response to emergencies.  A formal emergency declaration, which must include a detailed description of the existing situation in the effected region, sets in motion a wide range of emergency powers.   Among… read more
Fifteen of California's 20 most destructive wildfires have occurred since 2000, with ten since 2015.  Economic costs to homeowners, utilities, ratepayers, insurers and local governments resulting from the destruction of thousands of homes makes preventing fires and dealing with their costly aftermath top-priority issues in Sacramento.  Proposals discussed include creating a Power Company Safety and Accountability standard requiring safety investments by utility companies, mandating accountability for their wildfire safety record, and protecting ratepayers from sole financial responsibility… read more
The Assembly Select Committee on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities works to assist all Californians with developmental disabilities (I/DD) through advocacy and research, and by acting as an information resource as the Legislature develops policies impacting California’s I/DD population, estimated at just under 630,000 in 2017.     As a member of this important committee, Chaired by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D - Fairfield), I am very pleased that a public hearing was recently held in San Diego to discuss the needs of this region’s I/DD community. These needs include housing,… read more
The spotted lantern fly, a Chinese pest first detected in Pennsylvania is headed to California.  It attacks many crops, including wine grapes and avocados.    To combat this major threat to our economy, the California Department of Food and Agriculture granted the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside, directed by Mark Hoddle, $544,000 to test how a parasitic wasp, also from China, might be used to control the fly. The wasp lays its eggs inside the lantern fly’s eggs and wasp larvae then eats and kills the host. According to Hoddle, testing on the wasp will take about three… read more
On June 5, I joined 119 State Senators and Assemblymembers on the South Lawn of the Capitol as we participated in the 4th annual California Nonprofits Day to recognize and honor the nonprofits that do so much to improve our communities and enhance the lives of thousands of Californians.   This year I was very pleased to recognize REINS Therapeutic Riding of Fallbrook as my Nonprofit of the Year. Led by Executive Director Deborah Shinner and Program Director Shauna Jopes, over the last 35 years REINS has become the largest therapeutic riding program in San Diego County and is ranked among the… read more
Every two days a young person in California dies from an opioid overdose. More and more opioid dependent children are treated in emergency departments than ever before -- increasing by 54% over the past ten years.  While there is no single treatment or remedy for substance abuse, it is clear that early intervention programs aimed at youthful abusers are comprehensive and effective. That’s why I have joined with Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D – Van Nuys) to co-author Assembly Bill 1031.  The bill establishes the Youth Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment and Recovery Program, which… read more
This year over 2,900 bills were introduced in the State Legislature, an excessive number in my opinion. All those bills had to pass by the “house of origin” deadline on May 31st. Any bills that failed to pass are held for now, though some will become two-year bills to be considered again next year.  Several of my bills beat the deadline, including Assembly Bill 1352, which strengthens local mental health boards and oversees community mental health systems to improve care to patients.  Assembly Bill 9, which I jointly authored with Assemblymembers Reyes and Friedman, extends the time frame… read more
This region plays a big part in making California the nation’s leading agricultural state. Locally grown crops that include avocados, citrus, strawberries, grapes and cut flowers have put San Diego in the top tier of the nation’s agricultural counties. According to the San Diego County Farm Bureau, San Diego is the 19th largest farm economy out of more than 3,000 counties nationwide. I am a big supporter of local agriculture, and last week I was proud to recognize John Burr, the San Diego County Farm Bureau’s Farmer of the Year. John was recognized for his decades of agricultural innovation… read more