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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

SACRAMENTO — Civil liberties advocates are declaring victory after California became the latest state to block police from using facial recognition technology in body cameras.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB1215 on Tuesday, prohibiting police departments from outfitting body cameras with technology to identify people through their facial features or other biometric traits. The law takes effect Jan. 1 and expires in 2023, but can be renewed.

State lawmakers passed the bill after Amazon’s Rekognition facial recognition software incorrectly identified 26 legislators as criminal suspects, including the assemblyman who carried the measure, San Francisco Democrat Phil Ting.

Ting said the test, conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California using lawmakers’ photos, showed that the technology is error-prone and could lead to officers arresting innocent people.

“Let’s not become a police state,” Ting said after the bill passed the Legislature. He said officers’ body cameras should be used “as they were originally intended — to provide police accountability and transparency.” 

Monday, October 7, 2019

California Launches First Statewide Mental Health LineDebut coincides with World Mental Health Day on Oct 10th

San Francisco – The California Peer-Run Warm Line officially opened today, offering free non-emergency emotional support and referrals to anyone in the state via telephone or instant messaging. This service is made possible because of a state budget allocation of $10.8 million over three years, championed by Governor Newsom, State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco).

“When addressing issues surrounding health, the conversation must also include emotional wellness. This new state resource builds on our current mental health system by serving a population that is not in crisis but still in need of support,” said Ting.

“Too many Californians are struggling with mental health and emotional well-being challenges. Peer-to-peer support is a proven way of helping people stay healthy and get the help they need. The California Peer-Run Warm Line is an important resource for so many people, and I’m thrilled we were able to get it funded,” said Wiener.

According to Mental Health America, about one in five adults in the U.S. experiences mental health challenges in a given year. In peer-run or peer-to-peer engagement programs, someone who has personally gone through similar mental health challenges is providing support to callers. It’s a model that helps prevent the need for more expensive, crisis-based interventions, such as hospitalizations. In addition, the term “warm line” illustrates the step before “hotline,” which typically serves people in crisis. Warm lines aim to reach those who are not quite at that stage, but still need some emotional assistance.

The California Peer-Run Warm Line is toll free: 1-855-845-7415 and will initially be staffed for most of the day:

Mondays to Fridays: 7:00 am – 11:00 pm

Saturdays: 7:00 am – 3:00 pm and Sundays: 7:00 am – 9:00 pm

The call center is scheduled to ramp up to 24/7 service by the end of the year and expects about 25,000 calls a year. This new mental health line builds upon the city-funded San Francisco Peer-Run Warm Line, which opened in 2014 and is run by the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF). Past callers expressed concerns over interpersonal relationships, anxiety, panic, depression and alcohol/drug use.

“The Warm Line saves lives by providing preventative care for those in distress,” said Mark Salazar, the Executive Director of MHASF. “At the same time, the Warm Line saves money for the community by helping our callers to stay out of crisis and the need for emergency resources like ER visits, hospitalization and police intervention. We are very pleased to be partnering with the state of California to create what we believe is the first comprehensive state run Warm Line,” says Salazar.

The debut of the California Peer-Run Warm Line coincides with Thursday’s World Mental Health Day and its suicide prevention theme this year.

The complete announcement can viewed here.

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Friday, October 4, 2019

(Sacramento) – As a result of Governor Newsom’s signature today on AB 697, California will soon begin requiring colleges to disclose preferential admissions practices to the state. Under the legislation by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the data must detail whether any of the school’s admitted students have a relationship to a donor or alumni, and how many of these students did not otherwise meet the criteria for admission.

“We must strive for a level playing field in the college admissions process, so there can be equal opportunity for all,” said Ting. “We should know how prevalent donor and alumni-based preferential treatment is in California, so we can compare that to the amount of state-funded benefits, like CalGrants, flowing toward the school.”

alifornia's First College Admissions Reform Bill  Sent to the Governor Is SignedIn March, a handful of Assembly Democrats unveiled a package of six college admissions reform proposals in response to the scandal dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” That investigation found that well-connected families used a side door to get their typically unqualified children admitted into elite schools through illegal bribes, donations and/or falsified SAT scores. Additionally, the scandal shed light on the many legal ways that wealth and relationships skew the college admissions process.  AB 697 was California’s first reform measure to reach the Governor’s desk.

Two other bills from that package were also signed by the Governor today:

  • AB 1383 - strengthens checks and balances on special admissions by exception (McCarty)
  • AB 136 - prohibits fraudulent tax write-offs for individuals charged in the scandal (Quirk-Silva)

Ting’s AB 697 will take effect January 1, 2020, with data from the 2019-20 school year required to be released by June 30, 2020.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Publication: Making Contact (airing on numerous radio stations across the country)

Despite the recent increase in mass shootings in the United States, the majority of gun injuries and deaths are in fact a result of suicides, homicides, accidental shootings, and intimate partner violence. In this documentary, we hear the story of one woman’s experience of domestic violence, and how some Californians are working to prevent harmful and deadly shootings.

This program was produced as a project for the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2019 California Fellowship. Click on the "Read More" button below to listen to this episode.

Featuring:

  • Sofia García, survivor of intimate partner violence
  • Richard Martinez, Survivor Network at Everytown for Gun Safet
  • Kendra Thomas, family law attorney and Trustee with Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Domestic Violence Legal Services Project
  • Mara Elliott, San Diego City Attorney
  • Jacqui Irwin, CA Assembly member, 44th District
  • Phil Ting, CA Assembly member, 19th District.

Warning: Contains sensitive language. Please find milder version here.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Ting Statement Regarding the Climate Executive Order Signed by Governor NewsomAssemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), author of AB 40 and other legislation intended to address the climate crisis, released the following statement about the Governor’s Climate Executive Order. Ting’s statement is as follows:

“I applaud the Governor for taking aggressive action to address the climate crisis. We know the transportation sector accounts for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in California; so to focus a number of directives on cleaner cars and other green transportation technologies will help us reach a tipping point. I see my bill, AB 40, as complementary to these efforts to address our impact on global warming.”

AB 40 (Ting) encourages automakers to sign onto the deal struck by Governor Newsom and four automakers in July to increase the fuel efficiency of their gas-powered fleet, regardless of actions taken by the federal government.  Under AB 40, only those automakers committed to California’s public health and climate goals could benefit from the state’s clean car rebate program.

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Ting Proposes Changes to California’s Clean Car Rebate Program; Ramps Up Fight with Trump AdministrationAmidst today’s action by the Trump Administration revoking the federal waiver that permits California to set its own strict air pollution controls, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) called on California to step up its effort to further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by proposing changes to how the state’s clean car rebates are given out. Ting’s measure, AB 40, represents a legislative effort that comes as the United Nations Climate Action Summit begins Monday, where world leaders are expected to bring concrete action plans to accelerate the progress they are making on addressing climate change. 

Under AB 40, only those automakers who have committed to increase the fuel efficiency of their gas-powered fleet - regardless of what the federal government does - would be eligible to participate in the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP). In other words, to qualify for a clean car rebate, the vehicle must be made by car companies that voluntarily agreed with Governor Newsom in July to buck any federal rollback of Obama-era tailpipe regulations in favor of California’s tougher standards. Higher fuel efficiency regulations are key to reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to global warming. So far, Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen are on board, with more expected to join.

“California should not be incentivizing the purchase of vehicles manufactured by companies that don’t want to help us achieve our state’s public health and climate goals,” said Ting. “You’re either with us, or you’re not helping to save people’s lives and the planet.”

A recent California Air Resources Board report found the state has reduced GHG emissions overall, except in the transportation sector, which accounts for nearly 40% of the pollution. Then-Governor Jerry Brown issued an Executive Order last year, calling for five million zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) to hit the road by 2030. AB 40 adds the goal of ten million ZEVs by 2035. But, California still has a long way to go. As of August 6, 2019, there were only 626,000 clean cars estimated on its roads. AB 40 also limits rebates to ZEVs, making hybrids no longer eligible for CVRP, while requiring a higher rebate for longer range ZEVs. These changes would make CVRP more efficient in promoting California’s clean air goals.

Ting will continue work on AB 40 through the fall recess, as automakers consider joining the California agreement for more fuel efficient vehicles. The Legislature reconvenes in January, when the proposal would await a committee hearing.

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

As the Trump administration revoked California’s right to set strict auto emissions rules, a state lawmaker from San Francisco joined the fray Thursday with legislation that could entice car companies to keep producing clean vehicles.

Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting introduced a bill that would require automakers to meet California’s highest-in-the-nation mileage standards if they want their cars to be eligible for state rebates.

California provides roughly $240 million in rebates to people who buy electric and hybrid vehicles each year — $2,500 per car — and the windfall of checks helps shape which autos are purchased from which companies.

“We want to incentivize consumers to be purchasing automobiles from companies that have aligned themselves with the state’s goals,” Ting said in a phone call with reporters on Thursday morning. “You’re either with us, or you’re not helping to save people’s lives and the planet.”

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Publication: ABC News / Associated Press

Preparing for a lengthy legal battle with the Trump administration about how much pollution to allow from cars, California regulators on Thursday said they were considering cracking down on other emissions to make up for any impacts on air quality.

The Trump administration on Thursday officially revoked California's authority to set its own emission standards — authority the state has had for decades under a waiver from the federal Clean Air Act.

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One California lawmaker is already working on a way to preserve at least some of the state's environmental muscle: rebates for electric cars.

California residents who buy or lease a zero-emission vehicle can get up to $7,000 from the state. A bill by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting would mean people could only get that money if they buy a car from a company that has agreed to follow California's emission standards.

"We want to be incentivizing consumers to purchase from automakers that have aligned themselves with our state's overall goals," Ting said. "I think rebates are one tool. I'm sure the administration and the state will be looking at other tools that we have."

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Publication: KCBS Radio/San Francisco

Now that Janet Napolitano has decided to step down as president of the University of California, UC regents will begin the process of finding her successor. Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and others weigh in on the search.

KCBS Radio Reporter Doug Sovern says the system's next leader may not come from the political realm, as Napolitano did. Listen here

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Ting Statement Regarding the Resignation Of UC President Janet NapolitanoAssemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, released the following statement about the resignation of UC President Janet Napolitano. Ting’s statement is as follows:

"On behalf of all Californians, especially those in the UC family, I want to thank President Napolitano for her service to our country and our state. She took over the University of California system during one of its most fiscally challenging times. She worked with the Legislature to increase funding and enrollment and deserves recognition for her contributions. UC continues to be one of the best public university systems in the world."