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Assemblymember Ting Applauds Los Angeles City Council Support for Same-Sex Tax Fairness

City Adopts Resolution to Support AB 362

Sacramento – Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D-San Francisco) applauded action taken this week by the Los Angeles City Council, whose members voted unanimously to adopt Resolution (Rosendahl-Wesson-Zine) in support of AB 362, Ting’s legislation to exempt from state taxation compensation provided by California employers to employees in same-sex partnerships.

“Whenever California’s biggest city weighs in on a statewide issue, Sacramento listens,” said Ting. “So it is very important for the momentum of AB 362 that the City of Los Angeles understands our legislation is a matter of fairness, and stands in solidarity with the LGBT community.”

Under existing law, employer sponsored health insurance provided to the partners and children of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees in same-sex partnerships does not qualify for federal tax exemptions. As a result, same-sex couples incur on average an extra $1,069 in taxes per year. In response to this excessive tax burden, California employers have started to adopt policies to compensate their LGBT employees for this federal tax expense. However, under existing law, these reimbursements are subject to state income taxes. AB 362 would exempt these compensations from state taxation.

“Assemblymember Ting’s legislation is a fair approach for one of the 1,100 federal benefits offered to opposite sex couples only. So, until DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is deemed unconstitutional, we’ll just chip away at it,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, an author of the resolution. “A growing number of employers are recognizing the injustice of laws that deny federal marriage benefits to same sex partnerships. They should not be penalized for providing a benefit to all their employees.”

DOMA, enacted September 21, 1996, is a federal law that restricts federal marriage benefits and inter-state marriage recognition to opposite sex marriages. The U.S. Supreme Court heard an appeal to overturn DOMA with United States v. Windsor oral arguments on March 27, 2013. Their decision is expected in June.

“We know that discrimination can negatively impact the health of LGBT individuals and their families, so healthcare is paramount,” said Ting. “Treating healthcare coverage as some sort of luxury benefit is simply offensive. We’ll change that when AB 362 becomes law.”

AB 362 is sponsored by Equity California and supported by a number of organizations including, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Facebook, and several labor and health organizations.

Assemblymember Ting is the Chair of Assembly Democratic Caucus and the Assembly Select Committee on Asia/California Trade and Investment Promotion, and he serves on the Budget, Business, Professions and Consumer Protection, Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials and the Revenue and Taxation committees.

Ting/Gomez Legislation to Strengthen California’s Firearm Child Access Prevention Laws Advances

Goal of AB 231 is to limit a child’s access to guns

Sacramento – Legislation authored by Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D – Los Angeles) to strengthen remedies for the preventable tragedy of gun accidents among children passed the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. Their legislation, AB 231, would help ensure child safety and responsible ownership of guns by strengthening California’s existing firearm Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws AB 231 would make the act of leaving or storing a loaded firearm in a location where a child is likely to gain access a misdemeanor.

“California is one of the nation’s leaders in strict gun-law legislation. But those laws deal with after-the-tragedy consequences,” Ting said. “AB 231 focuses on preventing these tragedies by increasing the duty of care by gun owners, and imposing penalties when they do not do so.”

"Senior" Pedestrian Signs Promoted in Ting Legislation

Members of the California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Walks, and Californians for Disability Rights traveled to Sacramento to lobby for AB 707 (Ting).

Sacramento - Working to protect senior pedestrians, Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D-San Francisco) presented legislation yesterday that would encourage local transportation agencies to install “senior” pedestrian warning signs for at-risk sites such as senior centers and senior living complexes. AB 707, which authorizes local jurisdictions to request grant funding from California’s Pedestrian Safety Account to cover the costs of the pedestrian warning signs, passed the Assembly Transportation Committee on a unanimous vote.

"We owe our seniors the freedom to move about without the fear of being hit by fast-moving traffic," Ting said. "AB 707 will provide added safety to those areas where seniors congregate. By giving motorists a heads up with additional signage warning of senior pedestrians in close range, the number of accidents will be reduced."

Ting Legislation for Transparency in Property Tax Notices Clears Committee

AB 920 would require line-item invoice of how counties spend property tax dollars

Sacramento - Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D-San Francisco) stood up again for government transparency by presenting AB 920 to the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee. The legislation would establish the Property Tax Transparency and Accountability Program, a pilot program for participating counties that would establish new and more detailed information on county property tax bills.

“When I go to the grocery store, I get an itemized receipt. I can look at the per-pound cost of those locally grown strawberries, and I understand the tab. The same should be true with a property tax bill,” Ting explained.  “Every property tax bill should list the top-ten expenditures, which is why I want to pilot it in three counties.  If we can collect $48 billion in property taxes, we should be able to provide a receipt to every taxpayer.”

Ting Legislation to Encourage Urban Farms Passes Committee

AB 551 would set the table for new resources for fresh food

Nik Reed, board member, The Greenhouse Project and COO, Ravel Law Inc. and Eli Zigas, food systems and urban agriculture program manager, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) in Sacramento to testify to the Assembly Committee on Local Government on behalf of AB 551.

Sacramento – Assemblyman Philip Y. Ting (D-San Francisco) championed beauty over blight yesterday by securing passage of his legislation, AB 551, from the Assembly Local Government Committee. The Ting legislation would authorize cities and counties to create urban agriculture incentive zones, and allow reduced property assessments when a landowner allows small-scale food production on their land.

“We want to encourage small farms on vacant and blighted inner-city properties and make it easier for them to flourish,” Ting said.  “By creating a tax incentive for property owners to dedicate the property for urban farming, we are offering them a creative option for their unused land, and providing the community a new source of locally grown, fresh food.”

AB 551 is sponsored by San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance, and has the support of San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu, Little City Gardens, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), Mission Pie, and dozens of community-based farming organizations throughout the state.

The Future of Online Voting Begins Now

Assemblymember Ting’s legislation to explore online voting passes key committee

Sacramento – Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D-San Francisco) presented the merits of legislation he authored to create a pathway to online voting for Californians. AB 19, heard in the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee today, would allow counties to explore the utilization of secure voting systems with a goal of improving election-day efficiencies, promoting increased access to voting and improving participation in the democratic process. The bill passed out of the committee on a 4 to 2 vote.

“Security issues must be fully addressed before online voting can be viable, and we understand strict security measures will make or break online voting. That is why I included significant stop gaps in the bill, including simultaneous testing of the technology and required certification by the Secretary of State after a vender-paid, top-to-bottom review.

Gun Buyback Bill Advances

Sacramento, CA – A measure authored by Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D – San Francisco) that aims to increase participation in gun buyback programs was approved by the Assembly Public Safety Committee today.   The bill, AB 232, would establish a state income tax credit of up to $500 per handgun, and $1000 per assault weapon, for persons who turn in a firearm to a local gun buyback program.  The bill also would create a $10,000 corporate income tax credit to entities that donate funding to local law enforcement to pay for buyback programs.

“We know that financial incentives are effective in helping to get dangerous weapons off the streets.  A state tax credit is a great way for the state to support local communities that conduct gun buyback programs, and attract more dollars by entities that will help fund these programs,” Ting said.

Gun Control Measure Passes Assembly Public Safety Committee

Sacramento, CA – Gun control legislation authored by Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D – San Francisco) and Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D – Los Angeles) was approved by the Assembly Public Safety Committee today.  The measure, AB 231, strengthens California’s Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws by making it a crime to negligently store a loaded firearm or leave it in a place where a child is likely to access it.

Under current CAP laws, a gun owner is criminally liable only if a child obtains and uses the firearm resulting in injury or death, or carries it into a public place.  This means that a child could be playing with a loaded firearm in their own home, or a firearm owner could leave a gun on a coffee table where a child could access it, and these would not be criminal offenses.  AB 231 addresses this gap in CAP laws by making such unsafe storage practices a crime.

Students Rally in Support of Assemblymember Ting Cal Grant Legislation

Sacramento – Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D – District 19) was joined by more than 50 college students at a rally Tuesday in support of Ting's legislation, Assembly Bill 1364 (AB 1364), that will increase financial aid for students who qualify for state assistance.

The legislation will give low-income students a better chance of obtaining a college degree by increasing the amount of aid they receive under Cal Grant B stipends. The stipend pays for expenses including textbooks, class supplies and transportation. AB 1364 would increase the Cal Grant B stipend to $5900 – the level it would be if it had been adjusted for inflation since its inception in 1969. The current Cal Grant B level is only $1473.