(Sacramento) – The Farmworker Health Act, Assembly Bill 1963, by Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), successfully passed the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee today.
The measure, cosponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, the California Health Officers Association, and Pesticide Action Network of North America, will reduce pesticide poisoning in California by streamlining the tracking of pesticide usage and exposure by state officials.
“Farm workers are regularly exposed to potentially harmful pesticides risking birth defects, non-hodgkins lymphoma, leukemia and other life threatening diseases to help bring food to our tables,” said Assemblymember Nava. “It is critical that we provide this vital workforce with the best possible protections from chemicals that adversely affect their health.” As part of their job, farm workers in California load, mix, and apply hazardous pesticide chemicals, including organophosphates and carbamates. These pesticides work by inhibiting a nerve enzyme called cholinesterase (ChE), which is essential to maintaining normal nerve function.
Symptoms of ChE depression include: impaired reproduction; an increased risk of spontaneous abortion and congenital defects resulting in fetal death and altered birth parameters such as low birth weight and birth length; a weakened immune system; an increased risk of non-hodgkins lymphoma and leukemia; increased incidence of asthma; nerve damage; and neurotoxilogically related death.
Approximately 5 million pounds were applied in California in 2008.
According to a law enacted in 1974, employers who require workers to apply these pesticides must test workers’ ChE levels to ensure that workers' health is not endangered. Unfortunately, there is no requirement for test results to be delivered to any state agency responsible for worker health.
AB 1963 is a simple fix to an outdated law – it would require electronic reporting of lab results to relevant state agencies that can protect workers and prevent pesticide poisonings.
“The testing program is over 30 years old; it's high time to make a modest adjustment so that state authorities can determine if the program is protecting farm workers from easily preventable pesticide exposure, or not,” said Margaret Reeves, Senior Scientist at Pesticide Action Network of North America. “Reporting test results is both feasible and necessary for the protection of thousands of workers who routinely handle highly hazardous neurotoxins.” Electronic reporting will allow authorities, including the Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, to implement necessary safety precautions in work places with high exposure levels. These changes can include evaluating current safety precautions, changing handling practices, improving pesticide safety training, and general sanitation and decontamination practices.
Additionally, electronic reporting can provide increased medical supervision of workers. AB 1963 will lead to improvements in the workplace safety and reduce farm worker exposure to harmful pesticides. The measure now moves to the Assembly Health Committee for consideration in the coming weeks.
(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Tom Torlakson (D-Contra Costa) and Assemblymember Mike Davis (D-Los Angeles) have introduced a bill which requires a university or college to write a Disclosure Letter to a student-athlete recruit detailing the terms of a scholarship before signing the National Letter of Intent.
“Student-Athletes have been promised the moon – multi-year free-tuition scholarships and paid-for medical expenses related to sports injuries. But some universities and colleges are not living up to their assurances and many student-athletes are left on the sidelines
without the scholarship and without help for paying off medical costs when a player is hurt while playing in a game, tournament or sport,” said Torlakson, who is a teacher and a coach and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Schools and Community. “This bill will clarify the rights and responsibilities of the student-athlete and university or college so the student can make the best decision regarding such an important time in their life.”
The NCAA prohibits multi-year free-tuition scholarships but students are often made verbal promises during the recruiting process that are not always followed through. Scholarships are limited to one year renewals and students can be dropped at any moment. In addition, the NCAA does not require a university or college pay for sports-related medical expenses so a student who is injured may be responsible for hospital, doctor and physical therapy bills.
“It is time for us to address this lack of transparency. Student-Athletes contribute to athletic programs at higher learning institutions around the country. These programs benefit the students, alumni, administration and ultimately the university or college. Enrollment also becomes more competitive when the sports spotlight is on a particular athletic department and fans start paying more attention,” said Davis,
Chair of the Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media. “Therefore the administration owes a duty of good faith in negotiation with prospective student athletes and should not allow recruiters and coaches to make promises to take care of them which they cannot keep. Our bill will protect California’s recruits as they make one of the most important decisions in life.”
The Student-Athletes’ Right to Know Bill – AB 2079 – also requires all institutions with intercollegiate athletic programs to provide a disclosure letter to the student recruits within one week of a recruiter’s contact with a student-athlete.
(Sacramento) – Legislation introduced by Assemblymember Alyson Huber to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies moved one step closer to becoming law today. AB 1659 and AB 2130 passed out of the Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection with bipartisan support.
“Legislators create new boards, commissions, agencies and departments to solve a problem and then no one looks back and asks whether the new bureaucracy actually solved the problem it was created to solve or whether the problem is worse,” testified Assemblymember Alyson Huber. “We can fix this systemic problem by conducting comprehensive, regular reviews of state government to ensure taxpayers that their money is being used wisely. Other states have been doing this for years and California should adopt this common sense approach to oversight.”
Assemblymember Huber was joined at the hearing by Michael Shaw, Legislative Director of the National Federation of Independent Business, in support of the bill.
“AB 1659 and AB 2130 create a long-term review process that promotes accountability and consistency by establishing routine reviews of existing boards and commissions that focus on determining whether or not they are still necessary,” said Shaw. “Through this improved public process we hope California will become a better place to start and grow businesses that keep our state prosperous.”
AB 1659 would take existing legislative resources and re-direct them to the Joint Sunset Review Committee which would conduct a comprehensive analysis of state government agencies to determine if the agency is still necessary, should be reorganized or is cost effective. In order to compel action on recommendations, it is the intent that automatic sunset dates would be established for entities scheduled for review. Prior to the committee’s recommendation each agency scheduled for sunset would be required to submit a report to the committee. Then, the committee would take public testimony and evaluate the agency prior to the agency’s scheduled sunset.
AB 2130 serves as starting point to define which government entities will be subject to the Committee established by AB 1659 and sets the sunset timetable for the first years of reviews.
In 1989, the Little Hoover Commission issued a report, entitled Boards and Commissions: California's Hidden Government, which found that, “California's multi-level, complex governmental structure today includes more than 400 boards, commissions, authorities, associations, councils and committees. These plural bodies operate to a large degree autonomously and outside of the normal checks and balances of representative government.”
The Commission concluded that “the state's boards, commissions and similar bodies are proliferating without adequate evaluation of need, effectiveness and efficiency.”
Numerous other states have a sunset review function. Texas, for example, created its Sunset Advisory Commission in 1978. Since the Commission’s inception 58 agencies have been abolished and another 12 agencies have been consolidated saving $27 for each dollar spent on the Commission. Total savings achieved by the Commission equals roughly 5% of the state's budget.
Despite the explosion in California’s bureaucracy no system has been instituted to comprehensively evaluate their effectiveness and necessity. AB 1659 addresses the need for a system of review.
The bills will be heard in Assembly Committee on Appropriations next.
SACRAMENTO – Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymembers Norma Torres (D-Pomona) and Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) today urged the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) to consider several home foreclosure prevention approaches as CalHFA develops the state’s program proposal for $700 million in new federal Hardest Hit Housing Market (H4M) assistance. The proposal for the federal H4M funding is due by April 16, 2010.
“California has been hit harder by the foreclosure crisis and subsequent recession than any other state in the Union, and these funds will help stabilize California’s housing market,” said Speaker Pérez. “Stopping the hemorrhaging in the housing market will help to stabilize our economy, and allow us to focus on creating the quality, high-paying jobs that are our pathway to recovery.”
“As you know, the H4M program presents California with an opportunity to help homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure, are underwater in their mortgages, and/or are unemployed,” the legislators wrote in a letter to CalHFA. “Recognizing the short time period the California Housing Finance Agency has to develop this program, we commend the Agency for your efforts to solicit input from stakeholders who work with at-risk homeowners.”
The legislators added, “As the Assembly continues our efforts to help California recover from the recession and the foreclosure crisis, we look forward to working with you to ensure that the proposal and programs developed by your Agency will be successful in helping California homeowners – and the neighborhoods and communities that suffer from foreclosures as well.”
Specifically, the legislators suggested the following measures:
• Develop strategies with banking partners to leverage the $700 million available to the state to ensure that the funds are used to the maximum advantage. Encourage lenders to participate as equal partners in the program so that the private sector investment complements the government investment
• Offer homeowners comprehensive information and tools to evaluate foreclosure alternatives including short sales
• Devise strategies to help ensure that homeowners assisted through the program can maintain their mortgages for the long-term
• Build upon an existing program with Genworth to provide unemployment insurance to homeowners who may be temporarily out of work and therefore unable to pay their mortgage
• Consider the establishment of partnerships with programs that provide counseling or mediation services to homeowners at risk of foreclosure
The Assembly’s home foreclosure prevention approaches are based on recent outreach efforts conducted by Assemblymember Torres in the Inland Empire, Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani (D-Livingston) in the Central Valley and Assemblymember Marty Block (D-San Diego) in the San Diego region.
SACRAMENTO – In this Democratic weekly address, Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar), Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Census, discusses how census participation helps California receive its fair share of federal funding and congressional representation. Fuentes notes that there is still time to mail in census forms and that because the Census Bureau keeps the information confidential and does not share it with anyone, no California resident should fear participating in the census.
Transcript:Hello, this is Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Census.
National Census Day was April 1st, but Californians still have time to fill out this simple but very important questionnaire.
Census forms postmarked throughout April and beyond will be accepted and will help us avoid costly visits Census staff would have to make to homes beginning in May
There is no other civic act that impacts our state and local communities like returning your census form.
It will decide whether or not California will receive its fair share of the 400 billion dollars of federal funding that is given out to states each year for the next ten years.
The census will decide if schools will be properly funded, hospitals have the resources to care for the sick and elderly, and whether or not our roads and bridges will be safe for Californians.
This very important count will also be used to decide how many congressional representatives we will have in Washington DC.
It’s important for all Californians to know that any information you give the US Census Bureau will be kept confidential and will not be shared with anyone.
No resident in our state should fear participation in the census because of their legal status.
Even though the census will have a huge impact on our state, it is very easy to participate in.
There are ten simple questions to complete and return and the Census Bureau’s toll free help line is in English at 866-872-6868 and in Spanish at 866-928-2010.
Again, that’s 866-872-6868 for English and 866-928-2010 for Spanish.
Please visit 2010 census.gov for more information.
With everything our state stands to gain I invite you to join us in making California count in the 2010 census.
This is Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes.
Thank you for listening.
CONTACT: Shannon Murphy (916) 319-2408
Asambleísta Fuentes: Ayude a que California Cuente en el Censo del 2010
SACRAMENTO – En el mensaje demócrata semanal, el asambleísta Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar), presidente del Comité Selecto de la Asamblea sobre el Censo, comenta cómo la participación en el Censo ayudará a California a recibir su porción justa de los fondos federales y su representación al Congreso. Fuentes indica que todavía es tiempo de enviar por correo su forma del Censo y que la Oficina del Censo mantiene la información confidencial y no la comparte con ninguna otra agencia o individuos, y es por esta razón que ningún residente de California debería tener miedo de participar en el Censo.
MENSAJE RADIALHola, les habla el asambleísta Felipe Fuentes, presidente del Comité Selecto de la Asamblea sobre el Censo.
El día nacional del Censo fue el primero de abril, pero los californianos todavía tienen tiempo para llenar el simple pero muy importante cuestionario.
Las formas del Censo enviadas antes del 30 de abril y después de esta fecha serán aceptadas y nos ayudaran a evitar las costosas visitas del personal del Censo a nuestros hogares programadas para comienzos de mayo.
No existe ningún otro acto cívico con tal grado de impacto para nuestro estado y comunidades locales que llenar y enviar de vuelta la forma del Censo
Esto decidirá si California recibe o no su justa parte de los 400 mil millones de dólares en fondos federales que se distribuyen a todos los estados cada año por los próximos diez años.
El censo decidirá si las escuelas recibirán los fondos apropiados, los hospitales contarán con los recursos necesarios para atender a los enfermos y ancianos, o si los puentes y carreteras serán los suficientemente seguros para los californianos.
Este importante conteo será usado para decidir cuantos representantes al Congreso tendremos como estado en Washington DC.
Por eso que es muy importante que los californianos sepan que cualquier información proporcionada a la Oficina del Censo es confidencial y por ley no puede ser compartida con ninguna otra agencia o individuos.
Ningún residente de nuestro estado debería tener miedo o excluirse de participar en el Censo debido a su estado legal.
Aunque el Censo tendrá un gran impacto en nuestro estado, también es muy fácil de participar en el. Son solamente diez simples preguntas para completar y enviarla de vuelta, y la Oficina del Censo cuenta con una línea telefónica de ayuda gratuita en español llamando al 1-866-928-2010.
Otra vez, es el 1-866-928-2010.
Por favor visite el portal de Internet 2010 census.gov para más información.
Con todo lo que el estado tiene por ganar, le invito a que nos acompañe para que nos cuenten como se debe en el Censo del 2010.
Gracias por su atención. Les habló el asambleísta Felipe Fuentes.
Keep California Moving – Fix the Roads Roundtable (Fresno)
Speaker Atkins Joins Business, Labor and Local Leaders to Keep California Moving
Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins discussing California’s transportation issues at Fresno press conference.
FRESNO—Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins and a large coalition of local government officials, business leaders and transportation advocates today provided an update on the Legislature’s special session on transportation infrastructure. They emphasized the reasons why new infrastructure funding is vital to keep California moving.
“The Central Valley is vital to California’s economy, and fixing our infrastructure is vital to the Central Valley,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “Many Valley communities and businesses are dependent on the lifelines provided by Highway 99 and Highway 5. They need to be kept in good shape. That’s why we are working closely with the state’s local elected officials and business community to ensure we can enact real solutions to the state’s transportation problems in this special session of the Legislature.”
“It’s fundamental that California be able to move goods and people in a modern, efficient way,” said Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., who called for a special session on transportation funding in June. “The problem is clear and we’re going to find the right path forward. The potholes don’t wait, the congestion doesn’t wait.”
A study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that peak-commute drivers in Fresno waste 23 hours a year sitting in traffic, resulting in an estimated cost of $495 per driver. More than 75% of motorists in Fresno County drive their own cars instead of taking public transportation, and that takes a heavy toll on the roads.
“Some of the roads in Stanislaus County are literally crumbling under my tires, and the Seventh Street Bridge in Modesto needs basic maintenance so badly it is no longer safe for heavy trucks and busses,” said Vito Chiesa, president of the California State Association of Counties and a Stanislaus County supervisor. “Reforms and accountability measures are needed to ensure taxpayer dollars are going toward transportation, but it is an indisputable fact that we need new revenues to address the severe maintenance backlog of our local streets and roads. I urge lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in Sacramento to find a workable solution. The longer we wait, the more it’s going to cost when we do finally fix our roads.”
Fixing all our roads now would cost more than $100 billion, but waiting 10 years would push the cost to nearly $300 billion. Every dollar invested in transportation infrastructure produces $5.20 in economic benefit, and every $1 billion that gets spent on transportation infrastructure leads to roughly 18,000 jobs.
Darius Assemi, Granville Homes President and CEO and California Transportation Commission Commissioner, added, “We need more revenue along with reforms to ensure Californians’ tax dollars are spent wisely, and solely used for transportation purposes to fix our deteriorating roads.”
Transportation funding has not kept pace with the state’s aging infrastructure. Most of the funding comes from gasoline excise taxes, which have not kept up with inflation. California collects 30 cents per gallon, a value that hasn’t increased in 25 years and, in fact, decreased by 6 cents in July. This means that the purchasing power of today’s excise tax is at an all-time low. Increased fuel-efficiency standards allow cars to travel more miles with less gas, also generating fewer gas-tax dollars to fix the roads.
According to multiple studies in recent years, California faces numerous transportation problems:
California has the second-highest share of roads in “poor condition” in the nation. More than half of our state roads need rehabilitation or pavement maintenance.
Our state has six of the 10 cities with the worst road conditions in the nation.
Nearly 1/3 of our bridges and overpasses show signs of deterioration, or do not meet design standards.
Nearly 70% of California’s urban roads and highways are congested.
Statement from Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego)
“The Governor’s signature is the next step for a prudent and progressive budget that will make California a better place to live, work and play. We are sending more money to schools, helping working families by expanding child care and preschool and establishing a state Earned Income Tax Credit, and we improve higher education funding and financial aid. The budget the Governor signed today makes important investments and pays down debt while adding to state reserves. It is not only a reflection of our state’s economic health, but a plan that will continue to help build California’s fiscal fitness.
“While the budget signed today is clearly the best one we’ve had in years, there is more work to do on Medi-Cal, DDS and infrastructure. Today, I will be appointing the members of the Assembly committees for the special sessions that have been called on health care and infrastructure. Those committees will take the lead in resolving the important issues still before us.”
“It appears the University of California is moving in the right direction to enroll more California students—and that’s great news. When the Assembly conducted our in-depth review of the University of California this year, it was clear that the university can and should do a better job fulfilling its mission to educate California students. That’s why we included an additional $25 million for UC if it enrolls 5,000 more Californians.”
“By expanding public restroom accommodations, people with physical disabilities and their families and friends are given the dignity and comfort to go about their daily lives. These rudimentary human necessities are imperative for the health and well-being of our disabled community.”
“This bill brings California’s election recount process into the 21st century. Elections are a fundamental democratic principle and we must make every effort to ensure their integrity. I believe AB 44, will do just that.”
“I remember the challenges that I had when I was a new mother myself. As a mother I could not imagine what life would be like to not have the opportunity to care and nurture for my own child. It is only right that we give foster youth who are parents the ability to care for their child while maintaining the principals of keeping families together.”
As Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, I know the importance of college affordability and safety. We must ensure students are provided with safe learning environments. In addition, students need transparency in higher education costs in order to make informed financial decisions for college."
"We know that students in foster care are more likely to achieve their full potential when they are provided services designed to meet their particular needs. It's imperative that foster youth get the support and resources they need to succeed academically."