Saturday, September 14, 2019

Mandate would be higher than the European Union; highest in world

California is poised to continue its environmental leadership by passing the world’s strongest recycling requirement that will help reduce litter and boost demand for used plastic materials. The California State Assembly today sent AB 792 to the Governor - a first-in-the-nation proposal by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) that phases-in the minimum amount of recycled materials plastic beverage bottles must contain, at a standard higher than that mandated in the European Union (EU).

“There’s a terrible cost to our environment if manufacturers are allowed to continue making new plastic every time they need a beverage container. They should reuse what they’ve already made,” said Ting. “If we don’t change now, we will have more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.”

The recent closure of the state’s remaining rePlanet recycling centers was, in part, due to dwindling domestic demand for recycled plastic. Additionally, China and other overseas markets stopped buying much of California’s recycled waste last year. Now, a crisis is mounting as recyclable plastic stacks up in warehouses or is sent to landfills. AB 792 bolsters demand for recycled plastic and ensures what has already been made does not contaminate our earth.

The EU has already set a goal of 25% recycled content in their plastic bottles by 2025 and 30% by 2030. California’s standards would be higher than the EU’s, establishing an even more aggressive timeframe for minimum recycled content in plastic beverage bottles:

  • January 2021  - 10% minimum contentCalifornia Leads with Ting’s Historic, First-in-the-Country Proposal Requiring Recycled Content in Plastic CRV Bottles
  • January 2025  - 25% minimum content
  • January 2030  - 50% minimum content

Under a compromise reached with stakeholders, AB 792 imposes penalties for non-compliance but grants CalRecycle the authority to adjust minimum content percentages in the event market conditions prevent companies from fulfilling the requirements. Although higher percentages were originally sought under the bill, including a 100% minimum content requirement by 2035, the proposal still represents a major step towards meeting California’s recycling and waste reduction goals

As with all bills sent to the Governor this month by the September 13 deadline, he has until October 13 to act.  If signed into law, AB 792 takes effect on January 1, 2020.

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Proposal is in response to the recent shut down of rePlanet recycling centers

After rePlanet shuttered its remaining 284 recycling centers in California last month, the State Assembly today sent Governor Newsom a temporary emergency solution proposed by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). AB 54 aims to relieve the long lines at remaining redemption sites and fill the void in areas that no longer have a center.

“We’ve been trying to solve California’s recycling problem for years. Now that it has turned into a crisis, the Legislature must act. AB 54 provides short-term relief while we work over the fall toward a more comprehensive fix that can start moving through the legislative process when we reconvene in January,” said Ting.

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 has 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.

Emergency Recycling Fix by Ting Heads to the GovernorAB 54 allocates $5 million to implement a mobile recycling pilot program administered by CalRecycle. Under the pilot program, local governments, non-profits and others can apply for one of five grants to expand recycling opportunities in areas severely impacted by the rePlanet closures. At least one pilot location must be in a rural area. Ting’s bill also ensures roving redemption centers are open at least eight hours during the weekend when demand for services is highest, while relaxing other administrative requirements to streamline operations. In addition to AB 54, the 2019-20 state budget previously included another $5 million to help more than 400 low-volume recycling centers stay open.

AB 54 also temporarily suspends, through March 2020, the fines assessed on grocers required to take back beverage containers in-store when there are no recycling centers nearby. Due to the sudden closure of hundreds of centers, stores and staff across California are not prepared to assume the responsibility of providing redemption services at certain stores.

As with all bills sent to the Governor this month by the September 13 deadline, he has until October 13 to act.  If signed into law, AB 54 is an urgency measure that takes effect immediately.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

More housing units in the state could be on the way after the State Assembly approved two proposals by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), sending them to the Governor. AB 68 encourages greater adoption of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), commonly known as secondary homes, “in-law units” or “granny flats.” The other proposal, AB 1486, prioritizes construction of affordable housing projects when surplus public land becomes available.

“Accessory Dwelling Units provide a key piece of the puzzle in helping us address California’s unprecedented housing crisis. I support ADUs because they enable homeowners to be part of the solution, and we need to do more to spur widespread adoption,” said Ting. “Regarding surplus land, I can’t think of a better use for property the government no longer needs than to build affordable housing on it.”

By some estimates, California is nearly four million units short of meeting its housing demand. Building ADUs is one of the quickest ways to increase affordable housing supply. After the state relaxed some barriers to construction in 2017, there was an immediate boost to their numbers. Los Angeles, for example, has approved more than 10,500 ADUs since the change, compared to only a few hundred ADUs in years prior. Ting’s bill would make it even easier and faster for homeowners to build livable space on their properties by:

  • Speeding up the approval process to 60 days;
  • Prohibiting restrictive local requirements pertaining to lot size and parking; and,
  • Allowing more types of units, such as units in multi-family dwellings, to be approved with less bureaucratic review.

Other bills in the Legislature also seek to spur ADU development by reducing certain local government fees and suspending for five years any local rules that require the homeowner lives on their property if it has an ADU. Governor Newsom recently signed AB 670, which forbids homeowners associations from banning ADUs.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ting Proposal Banning Facial Recognition Technology In Police Body Cameras Heads to the GovernorCalifornia could become the largest state to protect civil liberties by banning facial recognition technology in police body cameras. The California State Assembly today sent Governor Newsom AB 1215, a proposal by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) that prohibits law enforcement from equipping body cameras with facial recognition software and other biometric scanners for three years.

“Without my bill, facial recognition technology essentially turns body cameras into a 24-hour surveillance tool, giving law enforcement the ability to track our every movement. Let’s not become a police state and keep body cameras as they were originally intended – to provide police accountability and transparency,” said Ting.

In addition, facial recognition systems are prone to mistakes. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently put the technology to the test, running photos of all 120 members of the state Legislature through a mugshot database. It falsely matched 26 lawmakers, including Ting. More than half of those falsely identified are lawmakers of color, illustrating the biases and risks associated with the technology’s dangerous inaccuracies if allowed to subject people to perpetual police line-ups. A similar test conducted on members of Congress last year also produced 28 mismatches.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

Drivers looking to buy electric cars or other zero-emission vehicles in California will get less financial help from the state than many had hoped.

Lawmakers have killed San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting’s bill that could have tripled the state’s rebate for drivers who buy electric or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. His proposal sought to increase a typical consumer’s rebate to as much as $7,500 and provide a stable pot of funding for the payments.

The Senate Appropriations Committee rejected Ting’s bill, AB1046, without any public discussion in late August.

Ting, a Democrat, said there’s no chance the measure can be revived before lawmakers adjourn for the year on Friday. He said California’s existing rebate program for zero-emission cars isn’t working.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Under a proposal by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), California is on the verge of giving people a second chance in life after they’ve served their time. The State Assembly today sent Governor Newsom AB 1076, which uses technology to automate arrest and conviction relief for those already entitled to record clearance under existing law. The current paper system is burdensome and expensive and discourages individuals from going through the process.

“A clean slate opens the doors to employment, housing and educational opportunities that help can individuals succeed and reduce the chance of recidivism. We must automate the records clearance process so former offenders can get back on their feet and lead productive lives,” said Ting. “Otherwise, our economy and society pay the price when job-seeking workers are shut out.”

“We advance public safety by removing barriers to employment, housing and educational opportunities,” said District Attorney George Gascón, who worked with Ting on this legislation. “That is why this landmark bill is so important and why we are working hard to be the first state in the country to enact it into law.”

Studies show that lack of access to jobs and housing are primary factors that drive individuals to reoffend. The obstacles to successful re-entry also disproportionately impact communities of color and those who are socio-economically disadvantaged. By requiring no additional action by petitioners, AB 1076 can make the records clearance system more fair and equitable, while also improving public safety through reduced recidivism. 

Amendments adopted during the legislative process now only apply automatic record clearance to individuals whose arrest occurs after January 1, 2021. AB 1076 originally included prior cases. Still, supporters say it’s a step in the right direction and will continue working to expand the process to past convictions. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Ting participated in a rally in August calling for more gun safety laws. Courtesy: SF Brady United Against Gun Violence

California is poised to expand its red flag law after a recent study suggested such policies may be effective in reducing the risk of mass shootings. The Assembly sent Governor Newsom AB 61 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) today, which gives more Californians access to a court process that could temporarily take away someone’s firearms through a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO), if they pose a danger to themselves or others. Current law only allows law enforcement and immediate family members to file a GVRO. Ting’s proposal adds educators, employers and co-workers.

“There’s no question in my mind that California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law is a powerful tool that helps save lives. With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it’s common sense to give the people we see every day a way to prevent tragedies,” said Ting.

From 2016 (when California’s red flag law took effect) through 2018, more than 600 people had weapons removed from their possession via GVROs. Researchers at the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis closely examined a sample of these individuals and found none were involved in subsequent gun-related violence. While it is hard to say how many incidents were prevented, it is reasonable to conclude GVROs play a role in reducing the chance of gun-related violence.

Seventeen states have a version of red flag laws on the books. Twelve enacted their measures after the 2018 Parkland, FL shooting. In California, there are two ways a GVRO can be granted:

  • For a duration of 21 days, immediately, which can be extended for up to one year after a court hearing, or

  • For a duration of one year after a court hearing

For GVRO requests in the latter category, Ting has a companion bill, AB 1493, which allows the subject of a GVRO to surrender their firearms to authorities without contesting the order. Under current law, even a subject who agrees guns should not be in their possession must still go through a court hearing, wasting time and resources.

As with all bills sent to the Governor this month by the September 13th deadline, he has until October 13th to act. If signed into law, AB 61 & AB 1493 will take effect September 1, 2020.

Monday, September 9, 2019

PUBLICATION: San Francisco Chronicle

SACRAMENTO — Californians could petition a judge to confiscate their coworkers’ or employees’ guns if Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a proposal twice rejected by his predecessor.

The Assembly gave final approval Monday to AB61, which would expand the state’s gun violence restraining order law, and sent it to the governor’s desk.

The existing restraining-order law allows police, immediate family members and roommates to ask a court to remove firearms and ammunition from people they believe pose a danger to themselves or others.


AB61, by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, would add employers, coworkers and school employees to the list of people who can petition a court for a gun violence restraining order.

“With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it’s common sense to give the people we see every day a way to prevent tragedies,” Ting said in a statement.

Friday, September 6, 2019

PUBLICATION: Sacramento Bee


Democrats running for president had a message for Americans on Wednesday night: you are going to have to wean yourselves off your gas-powered cars.

“It’s not something you have to do. It’s awesome,” entrepreneur Andrew Yang joked.

That didn’t satisfy CNN host Wolf Blitzer, who pressed Yang during Wednesday’s live presidential town hall on climate change. “What’s the answer? Are we all going to have to drive electric cars?” Blitzer asked.


California lawmakers have aired proposals in the past to ban gas-powered cars. Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, proposed one in 2017. His bill didn’t pass.

“Our climate crisis has worsened since I first introduced my bill less than two years ago to ban the sale of new, gas-powered vehicles in California by 2040. To make a lasting impact on the planet, we really need to get the whole country to start driving clean cars. It’s a relief to see this pressing issue discussed by the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidates,” Ting said.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Ting Proposal for Reservation & Pricing System On World Famous Lombard Street Heads to the Governor

As frustrations over traffic congestion on San Francisco’s Lombard Street heighten, the city is one step closer to being able to test a solution. The California State Assembly sent AB 1605 to the Governor today, allowing a Reservation and Pricing System Pilot Program on the Crooked Street, which sees more than two million visitors a year. The bill by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) is necessary because existing law prohibits a local agency from imposing a tax, permit fee, or other charge for the use of its streets or highways.

“It has become increasingly difficult to manage the crowds and traffic congestion on Lombard Street,” said Ting.  “Neither the presence of parking enforcement officers, nor the closure of the crooked segment has changed the current situation. AB 1605 offers a fix worth trying to improve public safety and the quality of life for residents.”

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) concluded in a 2017 study that access to the popular tourist attraction must be better managed and recommended a Reservation and Pricing System to do so. Lombard Street draws up to 17,000 visitors per day on busy summer weekends. Queues of motorists often form at 10am and run as late as 8pm, with wait times extending to 45 minutes per vehicle.

The proposed strategy would regulate demand and flow at the entrance while reducing the length of cars lined up, and could be implemented through an all-electronic system supported by a website, mobile app or on-street kiosks. Recent amendments to the bill require the SFCTA to identify ways to accommodate low-income, disabled or elderly visitors at Lombard Street. The SFCTA must also compile regular reports to assess the program’s effectiveness and ensure it is working as intended.