End of Session Wrap-up
On Tuesday, September 1, 2020 the California Legislature adjourned its two-year session, bringing a constitutionally mandated close to a historic and unprecedented legislative session. Despite facing a number of unique and extraordinary challenges, the Legislature continued to work throughout the year to serve the people of California. Legislation focused primarily on topics that would better address the immediate health and safety impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the subsequent economic repercussions. An on-time and balanced budget was passed in June and this month the Legislature concluded its work by sending over 400 bills to the Governor’s desk that will help our neighborhoods thrive in the face of this shared adversity.
As part of the legislative year, I continued to fight for the deployment of broadband infrastructure to close the digital divide through SB 1130 and passed SB 1255 through both houses to end discriminatory practices that allow insurance companies to deny life and disability income insurance policies to HIV positive Californians. Major proposals the Legislature passed, and I supported this year include:
- AB 3088 – Signed into law, this measure creates a set of temporary protections designed to prevent loss of housing caused by evictions and foreclosures due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. To learn more about these protections and other resources, please visit the Housing is Key website.
- SB 793 – Signed into law on August 28, 2020, to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes in California to fight against youth tobacco use here in California. As a coauthor of this measure, I am proud this critical public health measure is now law and look forward to seeing its impact on the fight against youth tobacco use.
- AB 685– This bill will require employers to notify employees of COVID-19 exposures at their worksites and to report outbreaks to health authorities to ensure worker safety.
- AB 1460- Signed into law, this measure requires the California State University (CSU), to provide courses in ethnic studies at each CSU campus and requires starting with students graduating in the 2024-25 academic year, the completion of at least one course in ethnic studies.
- AB 331 – This timely bill will finally require California students to complete a semester-long course in ethnic studies in order to graduate from high school.
- SB 1383 – This bill will expand the California Family Rights Act to allow employees to use unpaid job protected leave to care for a domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law who has a serious health condition such as COVID-19.
- SB 1447- Signed into law, this measure provides a hiring tax credit for small businesses that have lost more than half of their gross income because of COVID-19. This tax credit is designed to help businesses with 100 employees or less retain their employees and keep their doors open.
As Governor Newsom begins reviewing pending measures, the Legislature will continue to work on behalf of the people of California. With dozens of active wildfires burning across the state, the widening COVID-19 public health crisis, and families and businesses struggling to make ends meet in a stressed economy, it is evident that there is still much work left to be done. Further, as the Chair of the Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response, I will continue to have oversight hearings and engage with various stakeholders, including the Governor’s administration to ensure our state is able to tackle and respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In the coming months as we prepare for the next legislative cycle, my office will continue to fight to expand broadband in unserved areas to help bridge the digital divide; push for the expansion of affordable housing; advocate for struggling renters, homeowners, and small businesses; and pursue dialogue and community conversation on racial justice issues. I encourage you to reach out to my office with ideas or suggestions for policy or law changes that are important to you via my website or by calling my Capitol office at (916) 651-4033.
All my best,
33rd State Senate District
- Legislative Priorities
- Important Legislation
- Legislative Oversight of Pandemic Emergency Response
- Thank you and Looking Forward
As the pandemic has shifted schools and work online, it has placed a spotlight on the breadth and severity of the digital divide that exists in our state. My Senate Bill (SB) 1130 sought to update and reform the California Advanced Services Fund to better address the state’s broadband infrastructure needs in order to bridge the digital divide in unserved areas. While consensus couldn’t be reached between the houses of the Legislature on the final form of SB 1130, I am committed to reintroducing this legislation next year and working with our coalition of more than 50 organizations to finally tackle this and make “Broadband for All” a reality.
Additionally, I am proud to share that my SB 1255 –The Equal Insurance HIV Act, has made it to the Governor’s desk, where I am hopeful, he will sign this critical equal rights legislation. SB 1255 will delete all references in existing law to outdated HIV tests and prohibit discrimination when insurance companies write life and disability income insurance policies for HIV positive Californians. This measure is an important step in the fight for justice and equality for the 135,000 Californians currently living with HIV.
My colleagues in the Legislature passed a number of important measures that I was proud to support, manage on the floor, advocate for, and even coauthor. I was a very proud to coauthor SB 793 to ban the sale of flavored tobacco here in California, which was just signed into law by Governor Newsom. I was also proud to support legislation that will require the completion of a semester-long course in ethnic studies in order to graduate from high school.
We also passed a number of bills seeking to protect essential workers who are exposed and impacted by the COVID-19 virus. I was proud to floor manage my colleagues’ measure that would require employers to provide a notice to employees of COVID-19 exposures at their worksites, require employers to report cases to health authorities, and empower the state’s worker safety agencies to intervene in unsafe work environments.
We are also providing relief to small businesses that have been hit hard financially by the pandemic. Small businesses that have lost more than half of their gross income because of COVID-19 are now eligible for a small business tax credit. This $100 million hiring tax credit is designed to help businesses with 100 employees or less retain their employees and keep their doors open. Small businesses are the lifeline of California’s economy and it’s critical we provide the support they need.
Finally, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed, AB 3088 (Chiu), which creates a set of temporary measures designed to prevent widespread loss of housing through evictions and foreclosures. As more and more Californians are out of work and financially struggling it is critical that we keep people housed and safe, and this legislation will provide a temporary stop gap to prevent a wave of homelessness in the middle of a public health crisis.
While the Legislature has concluded its policy review work for the year there is still much work to do in its oversight capacity of the ongoing response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. As Chair of the Senate’s Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response, I will continue the work of the Legislature in investigating and reviewing the State’s response to this public health crisis.
We have held oversight hearings at the Capitol investigating the State’s testing response, the unique impacts and problems faced by skilled-nursing facilities, and reviewing the response in especially hard-hit areas of California near the US Mexico Border. We will continue to hold hearings in the coming weeks and months as our state works to overcome this challenging crisis. To learn more about this work please visit the Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response website.
In closing, I’d like to thank the first responders and essential workers who day in and day out, show up to work and keep the critical functions of our state running. Whether it be healthcare workers providing critical care, firefighters on the frontlines, teachers delivering distance learning, parents pulling double duty with kids at home, farmworkers harvesting food for our tables, or truck drivers making sure store shelves are stocked with needed supplies, these essential workers are true heroes. While the Legislature will continue to work to help guide our state through these difficult times, it’s clear that the resiliency of our communities and the spirit and grit of our neighbors is the real reason we will overcome the challenges we face.
As we look forward to a new two-year session beginning in January of 2021, I encourage you to reach out to my office with ideas or suggestions for policy or law changes that are important to you, your family, and your community. As your representative in the State Senate, I want to pursue legislation that is meaningful and impactful to the communities I represent.