Legislating During COVID-19
The pandemic has affected the way many of us are doing our jobs. Legislating was no different. Our Stay-At-Home public health orders reduced the number of floor sessions and committee hearings we could hold, drastically limiting the proposals we could advance.
Still, we achieved significant budgetary and legislative goals this year, considering the circumstances. As Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, I'm proud we were able to close a $54 billion deficit and avoid state budget cuts in priority areas - including K-12 per pupil spending. In some cases, we expanded programs, especially if they helped struggling Californians during COVID-19, like the state Earned Income Tax Credit. We also helped local governments address homelessness for the third consecutive year, investing $300 million in our Homeless Housing, Assistance & Prevention grant program.
In addition, we continue to fund robust COVID-19 response efforts while maintaining roughly $11 billion in reserve. I am crossing my fingers for more federal funding, which states need to spur economic recovery.
Legislatively, I successfully secured the Governor's signature on key bills, including:
AB 793: Implements the nation's first mandate requiring all plastic CRV bottles to contain recycled materials - achieving 50% minimum content by 2030, the highest standard in the world
AB 841: Creates green jobs through school improvement projects and electric vehicle charging station installations
AB 2077: Assures safe, legal access to syringes at pharmacies to prevent disease transmission
AB 2553: Allows cities and counties to fast-track approvals of emergency homeless shelters
AB 3182: No longer allows homeowners associations to prohibit property owners from renting their units
AB 3234: Gives judges the ability to direct a first-time misdemeanor offender to a diversion program; lowers the age for the Elderly Parole Program
ACR 165: Designates a portion of State Route 35 as the "Alice Pena Bulos" Highway, honoring a local Filipina activist
Adding to my excitement is the Newsom administration's implementation of two policies I've been working on the last couple of years - the first being a ban on the sale of new, gas-powered cars by 2035. I believe this is the fastest way to make a dent on climate change since transportation accounts for half of the state's greenhouse gas emissions. The second is the closure of a prison in Tracy. With our inmate population on the decline, we can save money by consolidating facilities without significant risk to public safety.
As always, thank you for the honor of representing you in the California State Assembly. Stay safe and be on the lookout for information on a virtual town hall I'll be hosting soon. I look forward to your input.
Assemblymember, 19th District