Welcome to my spring newsletter. I want to let you know what is taking place in the 9th Senate District and in the State Legislature: the good news as well as the challenges we face.
Once again, we face the prospect of devastating cuts in the public systems that have made our state a prosperous and healthy place to live. Our schools, hospitals, roads, and social safety-net need funding. However, the two-thirds vote requirement of the State Legislature to pass a budget makes it very difficult to get the necessary votes to do the right thing.
One of my key pieces of legislation, Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA 5), would eliminate the two-thirds rule. While this bill is not the entire answer to our problems, it would go a long way in helping to pass a responsible and timely budget.
Many of you have asked how changes can be made. I am deeply encouraged that so many people care about the future of California, not only for themselves, but for the common good. Now is the time for all good citizens to pay attention to what is happening to our state. This isn't civics class anymore; it's our life - our ability to govern ourselves effectively!
Still, there are many exciting things going on in our District and in the State Legislature. Please take some time to read what is happening.
I am here to work with you and for you. You can contact me through my website or call my offices in Sacramento or in the District if you have questions, ideas or need assistance.
Senator Loni Hancock
JOBS, JOBS & JOBS!
It’s not all bad news from Sacramento. In the last 2 months, the Legislature passed a series of bills that will create some 60,000 jobs in California. We did it without rolling back any environmental, consumer or worker protection laws, and without digging our budget hole much deeper.
Nothing is more important than providing jobs for Californians. While President Obama has taken major steps to get our economy on the road to recovery, people are still hurting.
That’s why I am so pleased that the Governor signed into law my bill, SB 205, to create immediate school construction jobs. It allows almost $1 billion in federal stimulus funds to become immediately available for building new schools or rehabilitating and repairing older ones. It gets the money out on the street so that people can be put to work. It is estimated that it will create over 11,000 new jobs.
SCA 5 – MAJORITY VOTE BUDGET
There is growing recognition that California’s unique two-thirds budget requirement does not allow for on-time, rational budgets that reflect the values that we hold in this District. The state budget has been adopted on-time only three times in the last 20 years.
My legislation, SCA 5, would eliminate the two-thirds rule. It would allow the majority to set priorities – as it is done in 47 other states -- and end giveaways to special interests. Last year these included $1.9 billion in last-minute corporate tax cuts and a constitutional amendment placed on the ballot without any opportunity for public scrutiny.
Everyone should be heard in budget debates, but when the minority controls the majority, the system is broken.
SCA 5 has passed the Elections Committee and is currently on the Senate floor. Separately, it is also being proposed as an initiative for the November ballot.
SCA 24 - TERM LIMIT REFORM
SCA 24 revises term limits. It allow legislators the time and stability to develop the expertise and hands-on legislative experience necessary to forge positive solutions for the very big challenges facing California. Today, increasingly inexperienced legislators are dealing with increasingly complex problems.
This Constitutional Amendment has bi-partisan support and is also being independently proposed as an initiative for the November ballot.
LEGISLATION TO WATCH
SB 1061 - BICYCLE BILL ROLLING FORWARD
Working with the East Bay and Bay Area Bicycle Coalitions, I have introduced SB 1061, which opens the way to a bicycle path on the Western Span of the Bay Bridge, connecting with the bicycle path already planned for the Eastern Span. It cleared its first legislative hurdle when it won approval in the Senate Transportation Committee.
We will find out next year what the options are for the path after a Metropolitan Transportation Commission study is completed. Additional thanks to the Sierra Club, Breathe California, California Bicycle Coalition and Friends of the Earth for testifying at the Senate Transportation Committee hearing.
SB 83 - FUNDING TRANSPORTATION
Last year, the Governor signed my bill, SB 83, to allow counties to ease traffic congestion by increasing a vehicle registration fee. Alameda County is considering using the legislation to place a measure on the November ballot. The $10 fee will be used to improve local transportation throughout the county and is one of the only ways that transportation revenue can be raised.
SB 1256 - ESTABLISHING ED ROBERTS DAY
For countless numbers of people throughout California and the world, Ed Roberts is the embodiment of the disability civil rights movement for social justice, equality and independence. That is why, on the 15th anniversary of his death as well as the anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I have introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1256, declaring each January 23rd to be "Ed Roberts Day" - a day of special significance to encourage schools and educational institutions to incorporate the history of the disability rights movement and the life of Ed Roberts into the curriculum.
Click here to read more
BERKELEY HIGH HOSTS ITS FIRST GREEN JOBS FAIR
The East Bay Green Corridor recently hosted its first annual Green Career Exploration Fair at Berkeley High School. Over 50 businesses, 8 schools, city officials and workforce development organizations came together to offer students an opportunity to learn more about the wide range of green careers and opportunities available for future young leaders.
Click here to read more
STUDENTS CALL FOR ENDING CUTS TO EDUCATION
Last month, Senator Ellen Corbett and I hosted a forum at Cal State East Bay with college students to hear about the impact of the rising cost of public higher education. Students had the opportunity to share their stories and discuss the challenges they face in securing a quality education in this era of steep fee increases and deep cuts to education programs.
The event also featured student representatives from Cal State University East Bay, Berkeley City College, Chabot College, Laney College, Ohlone College, San Jose State University and University of California, Berkeley.
LIVERMORE SELECTED AS ONE OF SIX FUTURE "iHUBS"
In February, Livermore Valley was selected as one of six statewide Innovation Hubs for Technology Development (iHubs), a new program of the state's Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency. A result of collaboration between Sandia National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, two University of California campuses and a number of agencies, this program is intended to create jobs while building partnerships between companies and the academic world.
The primary goal of the program, to create jobs and expand the economy through partnerships, will be accomplished through developing cleaner, cheaper, and safer automotive fuels and engines. The Livermore Valley partnership is one of only six selected to be a part of the iHub program.
NEW PLANNED PARENTHOOD HEALTH CENTER
Last month, Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo celebrated the opening of their newest health center in West Contra Costa County, located at the El Cerrito Shopping Plaza.
After several years of negotiation and advocacy from many, including me while I was still in the State Assembly, the center has been very well received in the community and over 70% of its clients are individuals who have not previously used Planned Parenthood services, demonstrating the need for its center in El Cerrito and surrounding communities.
Planned Parenthood provides vital high-quality and affordable health care services and information for adults and teens including STD screening and treatment, birth control services, patient education and general health services. If you would like more information about the new center in El Cerrito or other centers in the area, please visit Planned Parenthood's website: http://www.plannedparenthood.org
LOCAL SCHOOL SHINES IN BAY AREA SCIENCE BOWL COMPETITION
Congratulations to Granada High School in Livermore for finishing second in the annual Bay Area Science Bowl competition.
The event, co-hosted by Sandia National Laboratories and Las Positas College, encourages students and schools to increase their knowledge in science and match it against other Bay Area schools. The competition is divided into a high school division and a middle school division. Winners of the overall competitions advance to the National Science Bowl in Washington, DC.
The Census is important for our District and State because it provides an accurate count of residents so that proper amounts of funds can be allocated to each county for schools, roads, disaster preparedness, public transit, and more. For every person not counted by the Census, California will lose $3,000, so please take time to fill out your 2010 United States Census forms. This year's form is quite simple - only 10 questions.
So fill out those forms and BE COUNTED!
SENIOR SCAM STOPPER SEMINARS
Seniors are one of the most targeted groups by scam artists and abuse is on the rise. My office, in collaboration with the Contractors State License Board, has been hosting a series of free seminars to provide senior citizens with the knowledge and tools necessary to protect themselves and their loved ones from becoming victims of financial fraud. Representatives from the Department of Insurance, Department of Corporations, Bureau of Automotive Repair and the Contractors State License Board educate attendees about the many ways seniors have been scammed and the signs to look out for, including phone slamming, hiring contractors, and Internet phishing, as well as what state agencies can do to assist them should they become a victim. Seminars have been hosted throughout the district, including: the Livermore Community Center, the Fruitvale San Antonio Senior Center, and the San Pablo Senior Center. If you are interested in learning more about this issue or would like to know how you can organize an event in your community, please contact my District Office.
EARTH DAY 2010
This year marks the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, and there are many events taking place throughout the district to commemorate the occasion and celebrate the Earth. As a member of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, I understand the challenges our environment faces. We live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth and I encourage you to attend one of the Earth Day events sponsored by our East Bay community.
Click here for list of events
SUMMER INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITY
Are you interested in learning about and participating in state government? Do you have a desire to serve your local community? My office is currently accepting applications for our Summer 2010 District Office Internship Program.
Click here to read more