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Legislative and Budget Virtual Town Hall

 

Please join Assemblymember Phil Ting for a live discussion on what you think Callifornia’s legislative and budget priorities should be in 2021. Please tune in for the livestream on this webpage on Thursday, December 3 at 6:00 pm. You may also submit questions in advance here.  You may also tune in via Zoom with the Passcode 682021.

   LATEST NEWS

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Publication: Associated Press

When Henry Brown got his ballot in the mail last month, the 74-year-old California musician didn’t agonize over his decision. He filled it out and mailed it back on the same day.

“It’s more convenient, less stressful,” he said.

And it could soon become a permanent part of elections in the nation’s most populous state. This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, all of California’s more than 22 million registered voters got a ballot in the mail at least 29 days before Election Day along with a postage-paid envelope to send it back. 

Now, California’s Democratic leaders are weighing whether to make those changes permanent.

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But with more than 25 million eligible voters, mailing ballots in California is more expensive. The Department of Finance said it cost $65 million just to mail ballots to all of the voters this year who don’t normally receive one — about 5.6 million people.

The state could do that this year, in part, because it had millions of dollars in coronavirus aid form the federal government. The state budget included $111.6 million for the election, with more than half of that coming from the federal government. Most of that money won’t be available for future elections.

Local governments typically pay for elections, but they get reimbursed for things the state requires them to do. 

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Assemblyman Phil Ting, the Democratic chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, said cost would be an issue. But he said mailing ballots could save money by resulting in fewer in-person polling locations and the people to staff them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Publication: EdSource

Seven urban California school districts, including the state’s four largest, have called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to adopt and pay for more stringent, uniform health and safety requirements they say should be in place before bringing students back to school during the pandemic.

“It will take collective action and additional funding to bring students, teachers and staff back to schools in the way that is as safe as possible and sustainable for the long-term,” they said in a Nov. 2 letter organized by Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner and signed by the superintendents of San Diego, Long Beach, Fresno, Santa Ana, Sacramento and Oakland unified school districts. Adopting their recommendations would mark a shift from local control toward more rigorous state control over school reopenings.

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Calls for Newsom to take a stronger role in reopening schools, particularly collecting and publishing data on school infections and more comprehensive testing protocols, have grown louder. Last week, at a legislative hearing, Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, told Dr. Erica Pan, acting public health officer for the California Department of Public Health, that uniform testing requirements would help school districts settle negotiations with teachers’ unions on reopening.

“If you don’t come out with testing protocols for our state, it puts our districts in a very tough position,” he said.

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Monday, November 2, 2020

Publication: CalMatters

As more California public schools get set to reopen their campuses to students and teachers with a rhythm unseen in previous months, the pool of schools that have reopened so far have largely avoided triggering coronavirus outbreaks.

Most of the school districts in the state that have physically reopened have implemented hybrid schedules where kids split time learning in classrooms and remotely from home. Several others have transitioned or plan to transition to in-person learning in phases, beginning with younger students. Both are measures that public-health experts say help reduce the spread of the virus.

Data on the progress of school reopenings in California is limited, making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions on how they are faring. But at a recent legislative hearing in Sacramento, one of the state’s top public-health leaders said it’s “encouraging” that school reopenings as of Oct. 25 have resulted in only two outbreaks — defined as three or more linked positive cases — which combined led to 17 cases. Officials did not say where in the state the two outbreaks occurred.

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Schools lack guidance

Assemblymember Phil Ting said the Department of Health needs to update its guidance on routine testing as soon as possible.

“This testing issue is central to every bargaining discussion, up and down the state,” said Ting, a San Francisco Democrat who chairs the Assembly budget committee.

“We’re in the middle of the school year,” Ting told Dr. Erica Pan, acting public health officer for the California Department of Public Health. “If you don’t come out with testing protocols for our state, it puts our districts in a very tough position.”

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Friday, October 23, 2020

Publication: Long Beach Business Journal

Residents in some Long Beach neighborhoods might want to get used to circling the block a few more times as they search for a parking spot after work.

In September of last year, state legislators approved a number of bills that made it easier for landowners to add residential units to their properties without the burden of providing additional parking spaces on site.

Since then, the city of Long Beach has received 360 applications for such units, often referred to as granny flats or ADUs, records obtained by the Long Beach Business Journal show. Currently, 220 are still under review for possible approval by the Long Beach Development Services Department.

ADUs are residential units that are added to an existing structure or property, like a studio with a kitchen and bathroom built atop an existing garage. 

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AB-68, a bill passed in September 2019, prohibits cities from requiring on-site parking if the proposed site is within half a mile of public transportation, such as a bus or metrorail stop. ADUs in historic districts are also exempt from any parking requirements.

The new law was necessary because some cities refused to do their part in supplying more much-needed housing across the state, said Assemblyman Phil Ting, the author of the bill.

“When the first number of ADU bills was passed, cities started putting [in] really artificial and onerous barriers to continue to block ADUs. One of those was unrealistic parking requirements,” Ting said. “Many of which basically banned ADUs in those jurisdictions.”

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Publication: ABC 7 Bay Area

Sometimes not knowing is worse than knowing. That's how a San Francisco woman felt after her claim with EDD seemingly went into a black hole.

Everything started out as well as could be expected.

A retailer in Union Square furloughed Elizabeth Sanchez in March when it closed down due to the pandemic.

The San Francisco woman promptly applied for unemployment benefits.

"It started out okay. I got the paperwork right away that said, 'You'll get this amount. This is your weekly benefit rate,'" Sanchez said.

They sent her some paperwork to fill out. She did, but then she didn't hear anything.

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We contacted both Assemblymember Phil Ting and the EDD.

"Once you got involved... Once they got involved... As I said it was five days. Boom. Resolution and payments. It's like magic," Sanchez said.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Dear Chairman Haggerty,

We commend you and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) staff for your work on Plan Bay Area 2050 (Plan) to make our region a more sustainable, prosperous and equitable place. We are writing to express our concern about the inclusion of a Work From Home Mandate in Plan Bay Area. While requiring or encouraging work from home during the pandemic makes sense, we do not agree that a Work From Home Mandate is a viable or appropriate long-term strategy for the Bay Area.

Read the full letter: Bay Area Delegations Letter to MTC 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Publication: CalMatters

Last week, as federal stimulus talks crumbled and California’s unemployment system faltered again, Tracy Greer packed her car with recyclables and hoped the cash would pay for groceries.

Greer, 48, is an accountant by training who was furloughed from her job as a restaurant server in the high desert town of Phelan just as the pandemic hit. It took three months to get her first unemployment check, and with no back-to-work date in sight, Greer and many of the other 2.1 million jobless Californians have been hoping for a reprieve with a second round of federal stimulus money. 

“Right now, they’re playing with fire. They’re making it so people are going to be homeless.”

It’s a hope that has dwindled as President Donald Trump last week instructed his party “to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill.” 

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But unlike a nation that can go into debt, California can’t print money and is required to balance its $202 billion annual budget. This constraint is why relief from Washington is crucial. Without federal stimulus money, high-tax California will be staring down a projected $8.7 billion deficit next year and have to either raise taxes or cut services that overwhelmingly benefit the poor. Already, there has been friction between Newsom and state finance officials over how to spend the $9.5 billion allocated to California by the federal CARES Act this spring.

Assemblymember Phil Ting said the state is still evaluating a new tax voucher system to generate revenue and reduce future cuts, with a report from the Department of Finance due in March. In the meantime, Weinberg said it’s also possible to make cheap-but-controversial regulatory changes to expedite economic recovery, like easing housing permitting requirements or immediately spending existing infrastructure funds.

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Monday, October 5, 2020

Publication: Davis Vanguard

CA Gov. Gavin Newsom last week signed a measure designed to reduce the number of people in prison by giving first-time low level offenders a second chance and older prisoners a bit of a break.

AB 3234, authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), will provide judges with discretion to put first-time misdemeanor offenders in a diversion program and also amends the Elderly Parole Program.

Since the spread of COVID-19 remains a major concern throughout California prisons, the passage of AB 3234 authorizes the state to “ease overcrowding, while also expanding opportunities for second chances without increased risk to public safety,” said Ting.

Monday, October 5, 2020
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Publication: Politico

The cuts are already making their mark

A new infusion of federal aid looks increasingly unlikely to materialize in the coming weeks, dimming hopes that California will restore billions of dollars state leaders trimmed from the budget as part of an agreement with Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The final budget deal included more than $11 billion in cuts and deferrals that would be restored if the state receives $14 billion in federal Covid-19 relief by Oct. 15. The budget assumed the state would receive at least $2 billion from Congress through a new stimulus package.

But with less than three weeks to go, no such aid deal is in sight.

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What's next: Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) said he did not anticipate the Legislature taking further action this year on the budget and has not heard anything about the governor calling a special session. He said he is still holding out for Congress to strike a deal to help states and local governments.

"Fourteen billion is quite a lot — it’s really only the federal government that can assist us," he said. "Until we hit that deadline, I’m still hopeful."