The economic challenges facing California, the nation, and the world are historic. Not since the Great Depression have we seen such volatility in the stock market, record numbers of job seekers and unprecedented decline in housing. Making sure the Legislature reacts appropriately to this crisis is our top priority.
In response to the crisis, the Senate Democrats are authoring a package of 27 bills to create 140,000 jobs. These bills are centered on four principals:
- Invest state and federal funds in infrastructure projects to create jobs
- Expansion of innovative jobs in energy efficiency and renewable projects to continue the state's economic expansion into the new economy
- Prepare the state's workforce with job training and greater access to education
- Value working families by making sure they have help finding a job, keeping their homes and affording a college education
Senate Bill 965 is part of that package and is discussed later in this newsletter.
My office also stands ready to assist in any way we can. We receive more than 3,000 calls, visits, and e-mails monthly from people in Contra Costa County needing help on a variety of issues. Staff can help those in need navigate the state bureaucracy to get an occupational license, obtain unemployment benefits, deal with tax issues, work with the DMV and help in all areas of state government. We can also assist you with consumer complaints, mortgage/foreclosure issues, and other related problems.
Just recently we assisted a constituent who faced the real prospect of losing her home due to a delay in obtaining unemployment benefits. The delay was a result of an administrative error by the Employment Development Department (EDD). Once she contacted our office, staff was able to work with EDD, which eventually realized the mistake, and quickly processed her claim.
The District Office is located in the Contra Costa Centre Transit Village at 1350 Treat Blvd. #240 in Walnut Creek. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please feel free to call (925) 942-6082 or stop in to receive assistance or pick up free informational materials. We also have office hours in Antioch on the first and third Tuesday of the month at 420 West 3rd Street. The phone number there is 925 754-1461.
If you can't make it to the office during regular business hours, we hold monthly mobile district office hours in all of the cities in the district. This month we will be in Oakley and Pleasant Hill (see the details below).
Please feel free to also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Always proud to serve you,
Senate District Seven
Issues Discussed in this Newsletter
- Caldecott Tunnel – Fourth Bore Ahead
- Summer Matters – Helping Kids Retain What They Learn
- Reforming Government – Making the Budget Process Work
- Contra Costa Business Leader -- Congratulations to Rocco's Pizza
- Go Gaels! - A Slam Dunk at the Capitol
- There Ought To Be A Law – Two Winners from Contra Costa
- Save the Delta Alliance -- Community Activism at it's Finest
- Bill Spotlight -- Legislative Update
- Upcoming Events – Contra Costa Activities
Caldecott Tunnel – Fourth Bore Ahead
The long-awaited Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore Project has been rolling along smoothly. Once completed, the new bore will provide a more consistent flow of traffic, with 4 lanes flowing through the tunnel in each direction; eliminating the existing need to reverse the direction of the current middle-bore to accommodate traffic during peak hours, and alleviating the frustrating back-ups we are all too familiar with.
Construction of both the East Portal access road and drilling for the tunnel face retaining wall have started, and measures have been undertaken to minimize potential water pollution associated with the many tons of soil that will be removed during digging. Additionally, construction of a sound wall to minimize noise on the West side of the tunnel will soon begin and a concrete "K-rail" safety-wall to protect construction workers has been installed around the West Portal work-area. The Contra Costa Transportation Authority expects the Fourth Bore to be opened to traffic in the spring/summer of 2013.
For updates on the construction schedule, road closures, and more information please visit
Summer Matters – Helping Kids Retain What They Learn
As temperatures rise and the rains fade away, there is no doubt that summer is almost here. For most of us summer means outdoor activities with family and friends, taking a family vacation and enjoying all the great summer produce at a bar-b-que. For our children, summer means school is out and they are in some instances left with nothing to do for three whole months.
A child's need for meaningful learning and enrichment experiences does not end in June when the school doors close for summer vacation. To ensure our children do well when they return to school in the fall, we need to make sure their minds as well as bodies stay fit through the summer. When children don't engage in some kind of academic enrichment activity during the summer, many children forget what they have learned.
That means from one school year to the next, many students simply fall behind. There is a great program to keep kids active and healthy during the summer. Summer Matters is an awareness campaign of the Partnership for Children and Youth and the State Legislative Task Force on Summer and Intersession Enrichment. Summer Matters informs parents about the importance of summer learning and enrichment for school-age children.
To help students keep up in the summer months, some schools offer summer programs. Other programs are available through the local park and recreation centers or other community-based organizations. So enroll your kids now. Talk to the teachers at your school … visit www.SummerMatters.net or call 2-1-1.
Reforming Government - Making the Budget Process Work
Most people only know the Legislature by its partisan fights. While our system of government depends on robust debate on our differences, Californians also expect us to find places where we think alike.
In the spirit of finding a middle ground this year, I am authoring Senate Constitutional Amendment 19, a budget and constitutional reform measure now pending in the Legislature.
This proposal is based on the work of California Forward, a bi-partisan, not-for-profit group founded to reform our state's broken system of government.
California Forward's measure is a constitutional revision that changes our budget process in a variety of important ways. At its core, this proposal is about increasing the stability of our budget process while bringing business principles into state government so lawmakers can better prioritize in this era of limited resources.
Most of the principles behind this proposal are what most people would view as "common sense."
SCA 19 is based on the following principles:
- Unanticipated spikes in revenue – money that is "one-time" in nature – should be used on "one-time" expenditures, like paying down debt, instead of on-going programs that cost the taxpayer well into the future.
- If you want to create a new program in California – either in the Legislature or at the ballot box – you have to find new money to pay for it.
- The Governor must to do more long-range fiscal planning, outlining expenditures and revenues five years in advance.
- The Legislature and the Governor should do performance reviews of every state program, and decide the fate of those programs on whether they are working or not.
- We should get a budget done on time by passing it with a majority vote. New taxes will remain subject to the two-thirds vote.
- If we can't send an on-time budget to the Governor by a majority vote, Legislators will forfeit their salary for the time we don't have a budget.
California has the lowest bond rating of any state in the country. This costs us more in interest and wastes taxpayer money. When Wall Street comments on California's fiscal health they often come to common conclusions. They cite California's unique two-thirds vote requirement for budget approval, its heavy reliance on an archaic tax structure, our system of ballot-box budgeting and our endless use of gimmicks to balance our budget.
SCA 19 goes to the heart of this dysfunction. These reforms will make California's budget more rational, more stable and more efficient.
Contra Costa Business Leader -- Congratulations to Rocco's Pizza
We are fortunate to have so many of our local businesses engaged in community service. This month, the California Small Business Association honored Rocco Biale, owner of Rocco's Ristorante & Pizzeria at a Capitol luncheon where businesses from all over California were honored for their entrepreneurial success and leadership in their communities.
The Biale family has had eateries in California for 90 years. Rocco Biale was recognized for his business leadership and for his involvement in community fundraising and community building efforts like Walnut Creek's "Movies Under the Stars" and "Holiday on Ice". He is also a member of the Walnut Creek Library Foundation and is a recipient of the 2010 Northgate High School Business of the Year Award; 2007 Business of the Year in Concord; 2005 Walnut Creek Foundation for Youth Business of the Year; and 2005 California Park & Recreation Business Partnership Award.
Thank you Rocco's Pizza!
Go Gaels! - A Slam Dunk at the Capitol
Photo courtesy of St. Mary's College
On May 6th, it was my pleasure to bring the 2009-10 St. Mary's College Gaels men's basketball team to the floor of the California Senate to recognize them and their amazing season. (The St. Mary's website has a story about their trip to the Capitol as well as a slideshow of the event.)
Participating in the presentation were Coach Randy Bennett, players Mickey McConnell, Ben Allen and Phil Benson, Justine Sgalio of Gaels athletics, and David Kershaw, president of the Australian-American Chamber of Commerce. Kershaw represented the Australian general consul and was present to support fellow Aussie Ben Allen. His daughter Rebecca is an incoming Gael freshman.
The team was recognized by the full Senate and Coach Bennett was asked to give some remarks. This occurred in the Senate chamber as the Senate met that morning. The team was presented with a Senate Resolution memorializing their success as the only California men's basketball team to advance to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2010 National Collegiate Athletic Association men's basketball tournament.
The Gaels were in great company on May 6th as baseball legend and former San Francisco Giant Willie Mays was also recognized by the state Legislature on the occasion of his 79th birthday.
There Ought To Be A Law - Two Winners from Contra Costa
Every year, we ask Contra Costa residents to suggest needed changes to California laws. There were two winners of this year's "There Ought to Be a Law" contest. Below is an update on those bills:
Senate Bill 1071 (Prescription Drug Abuse Enforcement) – Provides the necessary revenue to make the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) database sustainable. The database provides for the electronic monitoring of prescription narcotics. This bill idea was suggested by Danville resident Bob Pack, whose two children, Troy 10 and Alana 7, where killed in 2003 by a driver who was abusing prescription narcotics. SB 1071 is sponsored by the Troy and Alana Pack Foundation.
Senate Bill 1304 (Bone Marrow & Organ Donations) – Provides private sector employees that donate life-saving bone marrow or organs paid, protected leave from their employment. This will promote bone marrow and organ donation in California and save lives. Megan Williams (Hoang Thu) of Walnut Creek proposed this idea after her daughter, Michelle Maykin, passed away from leukemia in 2009. Unfortunately, Michelle Maykin could not find a bone marrow donor, in part because the Asian Pacific Islander (API) communities are very underrepresented in the donor registry. Nationally, the donor registry is 74% Caucasian and in comparison only 7% API, 7% African American and 10% Latino.
Save the Delta Alliance -- Community Activism at it's Finest
Last year, residents of Discovery Bay quickly organized to oppose the "Two Gates" Fish Protection Demonstration project being proposed by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The project called for installation of an operable gate structure on Old River and Connection Slough in the central Delta between Stockton and Antioch. Residents believed that the "Two Gates" project would have severely negatively impacted water access to Discovery Bay, recreational boating, safety rescue operations by the Coast Guard and Marine Sheriffs, local economies, and Delta fish and wildlife.
Residents quickly organized and went into action raising funds to form the Save the California Delta Alliance. Scientific experts were then hired to rebut the project sponsor's claims that the gates would "help" Discovery Bay. They have also hired legal counsel in case a legal challenge is needed.
Ultimately, their efforts successfully contributed towards shelving the project. The "Two Gates" project was put on-hold by the Obama Administration in December, due to lack of supporting scientific evidence and rising costs associated with this project. There needs to be real and thoughtful solutions to protect the Delta's water quality, aquatic species, recreation opportunities and local economies.
Despite the hold placed on the project by the Federal government, efforts continue in the State Legislature to re-start the "Two Gates" project. Assembly Joint Resolution 38 authored by Assembly Member Caballero urges the Federal government to move the project forward. Save the California Delta Alliance continues to be a valuable partner in the ongoing efforts to protect the Delta. To learn more about the work they are doing visit www.NoDeltaGates.com.
Bill Spotlight – Legislative Update
In addition to our constitutional reform legislation and "There Ought to Be a Law" legislation, I am also authoring legislation on other issues of concern. I'd like to highlight the following bills:
Senate Bill 965 (High Speed Rail) – Encourages the timely development of high-speed rail to enhance job creation and establishes reporting requirements. This bill provides the necessary statutory authority and direction for the High Speed Rail Authority to receive and expend federal funds for projects along four distinct high-speed rail corridors in California. This bill will allow for the expenditure of more than $2.5 billion in federal funds and the creation of thousands of construction and related jobs.
Senate Bill 1201 (Paroled Sex Offenders – Garrido) – Requires the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to assess every person on parole transferred from any other state or by the federal government to this state who has been convicted of any offense that, if committed or attempted in this state, would require the person to register as a sex offender. This bill arises out a special report by the Office of the Inspector General entitled, "The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Supervision of Parolee Phillip Garrido." The Inspector General recommended that all sex offender parolees in California, regardless of where they were convicted, be assessed using the most current risk assessment tool. If SB 1201 were law 10 years ago parole agents would have known then that Garrido was high risk. This could have potentially led to the earlier discovery of Jaycee Dugard and her children.
For more information about any of these events, please call: (925) 942-6082
Saturday, June 12, 10:00am - 1:00pm
Oakley Mobile Open Office Hours
Oakley City Hall, 3231 Main Street, Oakley 94561
** See Note Below
Thursday, June17, 6:30pm – 9:00pm
Tri Valley Community - Interactive Budget Town Hall
The Dublin Library Community Room
200 Civic Plaza, Dublin, CA 94568
Join Senator DeSaulnier and other State representatives from the Tri-Valley Community and take the budget challenge. Try your hand at balancing the California State Budget. Co-sponsored by Next 10
Wednesday, June 23, 6:30pm
Highway 4 Corridor Expansion Town Hall Meeting
Antioch City Hall, Council Chambers
200 H St., Antioch, CA 94509
Join representatives from CalTrans, Contra Costa Transportation Authority, and BART
for a lively discussion of this important highway project.
This is a great chance to talk directly with key transportation experts!
Saturday, June 26, 10:00am - 1:00pm
Pleasant Hill Mobile Open Office Hours
Pleasant Hill City Hall, Community Room
100 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill 94523
**See Note Below
** Mobile Open Office Hours --
Do you have an idea for a new law? Do you need help with a problem involving a state agency?
Do you want to give your opinion on legislation that affects your community or neighborhood?
Here is your opportunity to speak one-on-one with Senator DeSaulnier.
No appointment necessary.