California has the highest gasoline prices in the country, and at 51.1 cents per gallon, our gasoline tax is also the highest. Keep in mind we have the country’s worst poverty rate, with many living just barely above the poverty level, and thousands have real problems just making ends meet. Making matters worse, SB 339 has been signed into law by the Governor. It pilots implementation of a “Road Usage Charge” (RUC), to eventually charge motorists a "per mile driven" tax. We already pay over twice what other Americans pay for fuel and vehicle maintenance – SB 339 adds to the burden. Remember… read more
By Assemblymember Marie Waldron 2020 was California’s worst year ever for wildfires – 3  Specif3 people died and 4.2 billion acres burned. This year is on track to be even worse. Thankfully, the Legislature has responded to this crisis with a historic investment in wildfire prevention and response. With $200 million per year in ongoing funding, California’s land managers and firefighters will have the resources to turn the tide against our state’s deadly wildfires. Until recently, this funding was in doubt. The Governor’s budget proposal contained little for wildfires, and the… read more
Many can remember recent San Diego wildfire disasters, including the Cedar, Witch, Cocos, Guejito and Lilac fires which devastated so much of this region. North County Fire Protection District, Valley Center Fire Protection District, and the Rincon Fire Department all serve communities with designated Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones. There is a clear need to support our rural fire agencies. This year, in light of the state’s $38 billion budget surplus, I made three funding requests from the Assembly Budget Committee. Though questions have arisen involving funding for statewide fire… read more
Historically, the relationship between federal and state governments and Native Americans has been fraught with violence, mistreatment and neglect. In 1887, the General Allotment Act broke up reservation lands and resulted in the uncompensated loss of 90 million acres nationwide. Taking steps toward restoring tribal lands through fee-to-trust transfers is one way to correct past injustices, restore tribal sovereignty, self-determination and economic independence. I have joined Senator Ben Hueso (D–San Diego) to co-author Senate Bill 712. The federal fee-to-trust application process… read more
Reality is setting in for the high-speed rail project. Cost overruns, construction delays and false promises may have finally doomed the project. In 2008, voters passed Prop. 1A, a $9.5 billion bond measure to help finance high-speed rail. Promises included keeping costs under $40 billion, the state’s maximum investment would be 30%, funding from federal, private and local sources would pay the rest. Additional taxpayer subsidies were prohibited, and construction could not begin until all revenues were in hand for the first segment. But projected costs now range as high as $100 billion,… read more
During California’s disastrous 2020 fire season, almost 4.2 million acres burned. Tragically, 33 people died, thousands of homes were lost, and an estimated 112 million metric tons of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere. Now we’re in the second year of a drought and the 2021 fire season has begun. The Dixie Fire is raging across the Northern Sierras and Cascades, and the Concord Fire, southwest of Lake Tahoe, has ravaged the community of Grizzly Flats. An oversight hearing in the Assembly Budget Sub 3 Committee was scheduled for August 18 to review strategy and goals for… read more
I have long been an advocate for expanded access to mental health care as way to restore lives and to save taxpayer dollars by reducing costs associated with treatment, along with many related societal costs including homelessness and public safety. This session I have joined Senator Scott Weiner (D – San Francisco) to co-author Senate Bill 221. The bill closes loopholes in current law by ensuring that HMOs and health insurers provide patients with timely follow-up care, avoiding lengthy delays in treatment that often lead to longer recovery times, worse overall outcomes, and even increased… read more
The crisis at the Employment Development Department (EDD) is continuing. Many claimants had to wait months for their benefits, thousands have had their finances devastated, while others filed phony claims that reportedly defrauded the state of over $30 billion. The Executive Branch administers state agencies, but has taken no significant steps toward reforming EDD. The Legislative Branch has stepped into the breech, and I’m very happy that my office has been able to provide assistance to thousands of constituents. Since March of 2020 when the shutdowns began, we have handled over 2100 EDD… read more
Droughts are a fact of life in California and shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Yet somehow we don’t seem capable of preparing for them. We are now in the second year of severe drought, and much of California’s agriculture, especially in the Central Valley, is facing devastation. The State Water Resources Control Board will soon vote on an “emergency curtailment” order that will prevent thousands of the state’s farmers from using major rivers and streams to irrigate their farms. Cutbacks on this scale are unprecedented and will affect our food supply. California agriculture produces… read more
High-Speed Rail. The Bullet Train. The 19th Century concept of rail travel, updated using 21st Century technology that will speed passengers from Los Angeles to the Bay Area in about 2 hours and 40 minutes. Barely enough time to enjoy a casual meal, and maybe settle in with a cocktail, while enjoying California’s blurred landscape as it rushes by at 220 miles per hour. As for the costs of this project? No worries. We were assured that several sources of funding were available, that California’s taxpayers would be protected from future funding obligations. In 2008 California’s voters passed… read more