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.


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." 

Sunday, September 27, 2020
Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

With the flick of a pen on the hood of a metallic-red electric Ford Mustang, Gov. Gavin Newsom set in motion the elimination of the internal combustion engine in California.

But turning Newsom’s vision of a cleaner-air future into reality will require 15 years of tough policy decisions to make electric cars affordable and charging stations ubiquitous.

The executive order that Newsom signed last week banning the sale of new gasoline-powered cars starting in 2035 would transform the state’s transportation system to an extent not seen in modern history, putting most drivers in cars powered by electricity. What was missing were the details of how California will require automakers to make such a rapid transition to electric cars, which make up just 6% of the state’s car market today.


Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, has pushed to expand rebates for years, without success. He said the state should consider borrowing money so it can offer larger rebates immediately, then decrease them gradually over time — giving buyers a nudge to act now.

“The rebate program has not been set up to send a consistent message,” said Ting, who chairs the Assembly Budget Committee. “The program has been long overdue for reform.”

Friday, September 25, 2020
Publication: CBS 13/Sacramento

A California assemblymember said nearly $200 million in operating costs will be saved after the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) announcement on Friday of the closure of a state prison in Tracy.

The Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy was chosen for closure based on operating costs, inmate housing needs, impact on the workforce and prioritization of public safety, according to CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz. According to the CDCR, annual operating costs for the prison are about $182 million.


Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) said the closure will also help the state avoid paying $800 million in “badly needed repairs.”

Here is Ting’s full statement:

“As Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, I have made it a priority to reverse the aggravating history of allocating more state General Fund money to prisons than to the University of California – especially as crime rates and the prison population have declined. In 2018, I pushed a budget trailer bill that laid the groundwork for identifying locations that could be closed without risking public safety. In this year’s budget, we committed to the closure of two prisons, one in 2021 and a second in 2022. DVI fits the criteria, and this first shut down will not only save us nearly $200 million a year in operating costs, but also avoids spending $800 million in badly needed repairs.”

The CDCR said in a news release that the closure of a state prison was included in the 2020 multi-year state budget plan, and Diaz said a need to achieve savings and a decline in prison population since 2007 contributed to the state’s decision to close a prison.

Full deactivation of the prison is expected for Sept. 30, 2021.


Friday, September 25, 2020
Publication: Recycling Today

Gov. Newsom vetoed a previous version of the bill

California’s AB 793, which would require manufacturers to include recycled materials when making plastic beverage bottles, was approved by the state legislature in early September and was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom Sept. 24. The legislation sets a phased-in timeline of when companies must meet minimum content standards, ultimately achieving 50 percent recycled content, surpassing the 30 percent mandate in the European Union.

“The time has come for shared responsibility,” says California Assemblymember Phil Ting, one of the bill’s sponsors. “Our environment suffers when companies keep making new plastic every time they need a drink container. They need to reuse what they’ve already made. If we don’t make this shift, we will have more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.”

AB 793 is designed to bolster the market for recycled polyethylene terephthalate in the state. Manufacturers must meet a number of deadlines for recycled content, achieving 15 percent by 2022, 25 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030.  

“Assemblymember Ting and I worked extensively with the industry stakeholders to ensure that this bill is both bold and workable,” says California Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin. “The result is the most aggressive recycled content mandate in the world for plastic bottles.”

AB 793 is Ting’s second attempt at recycled-plastic content in bottles. Newsom vetoed a similar bill last year because of cost concerns, which Tsing says have been addressed this year.

By signing AB 793, Newsom has made California the first state in the nation to establish minimum recycled content requirements for plastic beverage containers. 

“California has long led the way on bold solutions in the climate space, and the steps we take today bring us closer to our ambitious goals,” Newsom said upon signing the bill. “I thank the legislature for taking these important steps to protect the planet and public health.”

Friday, September 25, 2020
Publication: San Jose Mercury

In a move aimed at reducing huge amounts of plastic litter in the oceans, along roadways and other parts of the state, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a first-in-the-nation law requiring plastic beverage containers to contain an increasing amount of recycled material.

Under it, companies that produce everything from sports drinks to soda to bottled water must use 15% recycled plastic in their bottles by 2022, 25% recycled plastic by 2025, and 50% recycled plastic by 2030.

Supporters of the new law say it will help increase demand for recycled plastic, curb litter and reduce consumption of oil and gas, which are used to manufacture new plastics.


In a legislative session hamstrung by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, the bill, AB 793 by Assemblymembers Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, and Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, was considered to be among the most significant environmental laws that passed this year.


"The time has come for companies to step up and help us be good environmental stewards," said Ting. "By boosting the market for used plastics, fewer containers will end up as litter."

Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Publication: Los Angeles Times

Emphasizing that California must stay at the forefront of the fight against climate change, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday issued an executive order to require all new cars sold to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035 and threw his support behind a ban on the controversial use of hydraulic fracturing by oil companies.

Under Newsom’s order, the California Air Resources Board would implement the phaseout of new gas-powered cars and light trucks and also require medium and heavy-duty trucks to be zero-emission by 2045 where possible. California would be the first state in the nation to mandate 100% zero-emission vehicles, though 15 countries already have committed to phasing out gas-powered cars.


Prior to Wednesday, her agency had only floated the idea of banning gas-powered vehicles in congested areas of the state. And legislation lawmakers introduced in 2018 that would have banned the sale of new, gas-powered vehicles by 2040 didn’t move forward.

State Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), who wrote that legislation, said “the fastest way to make the biggest dent in slowing the effects of global warming is to embrace cleaner cars” and applauded Newsom “for putting us on a path that’s not only crucial for our planet, but also helpful in spurring green jobs as we recover from COVID-19.”


Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Publication: Sacramento Bee

Four University of California campuses unfairly admitted at least 64 students between academic years 2013-14 and 2018-19 because of their connections to donors and university staff, according to a report released by the California State Auditor on Tuesday.

UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara admitted 22 of the students as student-athletes despite not having athletic qualifications to compete. UC Berkeley also admitted 42 of the students through its regular admissions process despite them not having competitive academic qualifications, the report found.

The majority of the 64 students were white. At least half had annual family incomes of $150,000 or more, according to the report.


Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said in a statement that he’s disappointed to see UC engage in unfair admissions practices.

“Generations of young people from diverse backgrounds see UC as an opportunity for a brighter future, and the system failed them every time someone less qualified is admitted in their place,” he said.