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Monday, January 13, 2020

Publication: Los Angeles Times

Across California, can and bottle redemption centers have closed. Consumers struggle to find places to get nickels and dimes for their containers. Supermarkets are obliged to redeem cans and bottles not deposited elsewhere. Trash companies take the remainder.

Standing apart in California’s recycling crisis are drink manufacturers. They have never been required to find a permanent repository or reuse for the billions of bottles and cans they produce. California’s 3-decade-old “Bottle Bill” — the law that seeks to boost recycling by putting a 5- or 10-cent bounty on most cans and bottles — has left that work to everyone else.

That soon could change. This year, some in the state Legislature want to overhaul the Bottle Bill. 

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“The state can no longer put off solving this ever-growing crisis,” Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) said last week in introducing a bill he said will strive to prop up struggling recyclers and demand greater reuse of plastic by the beverage industry.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Sacramento – Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, released the statement below following Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2020 budget release:

“We have made tremendous progress in moving our state forward and ensuring our economic prosperity touches as many Californians as possible. I’m excited to see that the Governor wants to continue down the same path while also taking caution, especially regarding assumptions about whether some federal funding will come through. The Governor’s fiscal priorities are again similar to those outlined in our Assembly Budget Blueprint, Embracing Progress | Securing the Future, including:

  • Ting Statement On Governor's Budget ReleaseStrong reserves in the Rainy Day Fund and Resiliency Fund ($21 billion total);
  • One-time investments, which ensure the State keeps a structural operating surplus in future years;
  • More critical funding to expand affordable housing and prevent homelessness, while also addressing the current homeless crisis;
  • Investments in early education, including preschool facilities; gearing more resources to low-performing students; and continuing to make improvements in special education;
  • Improved access to comprehensive behavioral health programs for those with the greatest need, including homeless individuals;
  • Expanded health care coverage, making undocumented seniors over the age of 65 eligible for Medi-Cal;
  • Strengthened nutrition programs at food banks, schools and higher education campuses to prevent hunger;
  • Better corrections programs that focus on rehabilitation, particularly by reducing youth recidivism; and moving toward the closure of one prison, implementing previous budget action to consolidate and reduce facilities; and,
  • Comprehensive climate crisis readiness programs, preventing and preparing for natural disasters and other effects of global warming.

 I look forward to working with the Governor to craft another progressive, yet prudent fiscal plan that aims to benefit all Californians. Hearings will begin in a few weeks, giving the public opportunities to help us shape this proposal into a final state budget by the June 15th deadline. Together, we will invest in California’s future while also ensuring that the progress made is protected with healthy financial reserves, in case of an economic downturn.”

For more information about the Assembly Budget Blueprint, Embracing Progress | Securing the Future, please click here.    

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Publication: KQED"s Political Breakdown

The California legislature returns and Governor Gavin Newsom prepares to release his state budget plan. Marisa and Scott discuss new bills on housing and wildfires, and what to watch for in Newsom's spending plan. Then, Assembly Budget Committee chair Phil Ting joins to discuss his family's political history in China and Taiwan, finding his life purpose in college, and his thoughts on SB 50, PG&E, and solutions to the state's homeless crisis.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Publication: San Jose Mercury

Apple engineer Santosh Kumar emptied his savings account to buy a $1.5 million home with a backyard apartment in Mountain View.

His plan: fix up the 70-year-old unit for his in-laws.

After two years and dozens of conversations with city officials, he’s still battling to upgrade his property.

But this month, new laws governing older granny flats will give him new options to renovate his property. The laws give owners more time to fix-up old backyard apartments and build units with fewer fees and city restrictions. Housing advocates see ADUs as a relatively quick way to add apartments as the state is mired in an epic housing shortage.

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Another measure, AB 68, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, allows multiple units and limits a city’s permitting time from 120 to 60 days. It also bans minimum lot sizes for construction, requiring replacement parking and other restrictions on building size.

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Monday, January 6, 2020

Ting Introduces Bill To Fix California’s  Beverage Container Recycling ProgramCalifornia’s recycling program for bottles and cans is broken. As people find it more and more difficult to get their CRV deposits back, an increased amount of our recyclable waste is ending up in landfills. With California’s recycling rate dropping from 85% to 75%, the state can no longer put off solving this ever-growing crisis.

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) today introduced a bill, AB 1840, which intends to reform the state’s Beverage Container Recycling Program. Action on the first day back in the new year signals that Ting is making this critical issue a priority by leading the efforts to resolve the state’s recycling troubles.

“We can no longer kick the proverbial can down the road,” said Ting. “If California is to continue its leadership on the environment, we must deal with this problem that’s been in front of us for years.”

Ting will be working with several partners to further develop the bill’s language and shape reforms the recycling program needs. AB 1840 builds upon the work of AB 54, Ting’s urgency measure that took effect in October, enabling the state to launch five mobile recycling programs in areas severely impacted by the closure of CRV redemption sites. AB 54 provided a temporary fix until the Legislature reconvened this month to work on a path toward saving California’s recycling system.

Legislative action this year is imperative, especially since rePlanet shuttered its remaining 284 California recycling centers last summer. rePlanet was once California’s largest recycling company, operating about 20% of the redemption centers in the state. But a significant decrease in the scrap value of aluminum and recycled plastics hampered their ability to stay open - even after the firm closed 191 centers in 2016 to cut costs. Exacerbating this problem are international market conditions, as countries around the world, most notably China, have imposed stricter standards on the types of waste materials they will purchase.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

For years, driving alone in the carpool lane was a glimmering sign of privilege, limited to owners of flashy new electric cars.

In January, California will extend this benefit to the less affluent. A new state law will enable low-income motorists who purchase secondhand electric vehicles with expired “clean air” stickers — passports into the diamond lanes — to trade them for new stickers that are valid until 2024.

Social justice advocates champion the idea, saying it will expand what was traditionally a rich person’s market, enticing more motorists to choose zero-emission vehicles. The new law applies to people whose household income is 80% of the state median, or lower. Officials at the Department of Motor Vehicles pegged that threshold at $65,777 a year.

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Fans of the stickers push back, saying California urgently needs to convert more drivers to electric cars and hybrids. Former Gov. Jerry Brown set a target of 5 million by 2030, a steep climb from 600,000 registered today.

“We know that if we don’t start moving from dirty cars to clean cars, we won’t get there,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, Democrat from San Francisco and owner of an electric Chevy Bolt.

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Monday, December 30, 2019

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announces grants totaling more than $1.6 million are being awarded to 39 corner stores, small businesses, community-based organizations and government entities throughout the state in the second round of the pilot Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program.
 
This program funds energy-efficient refrigeration units in corner stores and small businesses in low-income neighborhoods or areas with low access to full-service grocery stores. The refrigeration units will stock California-grown produce, nuts and minimally processed foods. The goal is to improve access to healthy food choices for underserved communities while promoting California-grown agriculture. 
 
“We’re proud to support small businesses as they build the capacity to sell nutritious foods grown by California farmers in under-resourced neighborhoods,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. Recipients of Final Refrigeration Grants Championed by Ting Announced
 
The 39 grantees include 28 small stores/businesses, 10 nonprofits and one county. The county and nonprofits will either provide refrigeration units and technical assistance to corner stores in their regions, or several of the nonprofits will sell produce directly in under-served areas. In all, refrigeration units will be provided to approximately 55 corner stores throughout the state. The majority of grantees are located in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Central Valley regions, though grant programs will reach more than 20 California counties. Find the complete list of recipients at the Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program website .
 
“Your diet shouldn’t be determined by your address. But that’s what happens to people who live in a food desert where there are no grocery stores within a mile of their home. This second round of grants will ensure more Californians have access to healthy and nutritious foods – no matter where they live,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), who helped create the program and secure grant funding as Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee.
 
This program is managed by CDFA’s Office of Farm to Fork, which is committed to helping all Californians access fresh, California-grown food. This concludes the final round of the pilot program.

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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Publication: CBS 5/San Francisco

2019 has been the biggest year for mass killings since the 1970s.

211 people were killed in 41 mass killings nationwide, according to a compilation by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

California, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, had eight mass killings this year, the most of any state.

The report defined a mass killing as one in which four people died, not including the suspect.

Many people KPIX interviewed near San Francisco’s Ferry Building said the report makes them feel sad and shocked.

“I don’t know what the answer is. I really don’t. How do you teach respect for life?” wondered Carol Hemingway of Las Vegas.

“Protect the homeland. Take care of ourselves where we’re suffering from, mentally and spiritually, and we’ll stop shooting each other,” added Marc Coleman of San Francisco.

California is enacting tough new gun-control laws in the new year.

Beginning Jan. 1, only those 21 and older can purchase a semi-automatic rifle and Californians will only be allowed to buy one such rifle per month beginning in 2021.

Gun licensing and fees will cost more come the new year and those who aren’t allowed to own guns in another state will be banned from purchasing one in California.

In addition, the state is expanding the gun-violence restraining order program to workplaces and schools.

The law is drawn from lessons learned in the Parkland, Fla. school massacre.

Right now, in California, relatives or police can get a restraining order to take away the firearms of a person who has threatened violence. The new law allows employers, co-workers, principals and teachers to request a restraining order.

Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-S.F) says it bolsters a program that California has had for three years.

“UC Davis did a study on this. They found, in 21 cases, gun violence restraining orders prevented mass shootings,” said Ting. “We’re doing the most to make sure we’re proactive in preventing those mass shootings by getting the guns out of the hands of the wrong people.”

That law takes effect in September after a training period.

Also in the new year: if you have a gun violence restraining order against you, you will not be able to buy any kind of firearm for five years. 

Monday, December 23, 2019
Saturday, December 21, 2019

Publication: NBC Bay Area

Julio Arevalo said he just wanted to get his son a donut when he left his home at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park late one night last July.

He never came home with that donut.

In the morning, Arevalo says he woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed with a fractured bone in his face and a brace around his neck.

While Arevalo says he doesn’t remember any of it, surveillance video from the donut shop obtained by Cody Salfen, Arevalo's attorney, captured the encounter with Palo Alto police officer Agent Thomas DeStefano Jr..

"[DeStefano] ended up slamming Julio on the ground and shattering his orbital bone and knocked him out completely cold," Salfen said. "And all for essentially nothing."

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NBC Bay Area wanted to review footage from DeStefano’s body-worn camera to see exactly what led up to the incident, and why DeStefano tried detaining Arevalo in the first place. But the Palo Alto Police Department has either denied or ignored multiple public records requests from NBC Bay Area to obtain that footage – records they are required to provide by law.

The Investigative Unit sat down with California Assemblymember Phil Ting, who authored a new law requiring police officer body-worn camera footage to be released in a timely fashion after police shootings or incidents involving serious bodily injury. The law allows law enforcement agencies to withhold the video if they can provide a specific reason as to why such a release might harm an investigation, but not declare a blanket exemption because the case is still under investigation.

Palo Alto’s Police Department has yet to give any reason as to why it will not release Officer DeStefano’s body-worn camera video in Arevalo’s case, other than saying the case remains under investigation.

Assemblymember Ting declined to discuss the specifics of Arevalo’s case, but said it’s troubling when police departments do not appear to comply with the new law.

“I think it’s disappointing,” said Ting. “Because obviously I understand that there’s a certain amount of tension between police departments and the communities that they serve, but I think ultimately this transparency makes everybody better.” 

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