(Sacramento) – Today the Senate and Assembly Select Committees on Improving State Government held the first in a series of joint hearings. Senate Chair Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and Assembly Chair Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) led the discussion on legislative branch and budget process reforms.
“State government needs a new blueprint based on best ideas here and across the nation. It needs to focus on our state’s top priorities, reflect innovative and long-term thinking, and encourage bipartisanship,” said Feuer. “Ultimately, this reform effort is about creating the conditions for California government to succeed.”
“We’re going to deliver meaningful and immediate suggestions to the Legislature as we work toward better serving the citizens of California,” said DeSaulnier.
Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass formed the bipartisan select committees in September to address the pressing need for state governmental reform and evaluate major reform proposals. To accomplish this ambitious effort, the committees will jointly host five hearings at various locations throughout the state, taking on topics including ballot box budgeting and initiative process reforms, legislative oversight of state government agencies, and relationships between state and local governments. The committees’ work will culminate with the introduction of reform legislation when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
“State government needs to be more transparent, efficient and effective,” said Speaker Bass. “Today’s hearing is the first step in the process toward reforming our system of government and making it work better for the people of California.”
“Those of us inside the Capitol are quite familiar with state government’s systemic problems. If the current system isn’t working for us, then it isn’t working for Californians. That has got to change,” said President pro Tempore Steinberg.
Panelists at the first hearing represented elected offices, policy think-tanks, academic institutions and media outlets. Current and former elected officials weighed in on areas of improvement to the Legislature, among them State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, former Assembly Republican leader Robert Naylor and Inspector General Laura Chick.
Assemblymember Feuer’s opening remarks at today’s hearing. mp3
Assemblymember Feuer says its clear state government needs to be transformed. mp3
Assemblymember Feuer says the committee is looking for concrete results that make California government more efficient, transparent and customer friendly. mp3
Assemblymember Feuer says everyone on the committee is dedicated to finding the common ground needed to forge real solutions. mp3
(Sacramento) - Assemblymember Ted W. Lieu (D-Torrance) announced that Governor Schwarzenegger signed his legislation to create a cost-effective solution to deal with the growing number of abandoned boats in California’s waterways. Assembly Bill 166 will establish a vessel turn-in program that permits boat owners to transfer ownership of their dilapidated vessels before they become an environmental hazard.
"This is a huge win. AB 166 is a much needed law that will go a long way toward solving the environmental problem of boats that pollute our rivers, lakes and coastlines," said Assemblymember Lieu. "I am thrilled that the Governor agrees that California needs to address the environmental degradation created by these boats that have been illegally abandoned by their owners."
Local governments, law enforcement agencies and environmental organizations are reporting an enormous increase in the number of vessels that are abandoned in California waterways. Reports indicate that there were as many boats abandoned in the first quarter of 2009 as there were in all of 2008 – a sign of a weak economic time when people are shedding luxury items such as boats.
"Abandoned boats in our treasured waterways pose a navigational, environmental, and economic hazard for Californians," says Sara Aminzadeh, Public Affairs Associate for San Francisco Baykeeper, one of the bill’s sponsors. "AB 166 will help keep derelict boats, and the oil, sewage, and other hazardous materials that they contain, out of our favorite swimming, kayaking, and boating areas. The bill will help protect people, fish and wildlife from the pollution hotspots created by abandoned boats."
However, there is a shortage of available funds to help clean up these sunken vessels so they continue to degrade local waterways for years. Under the new program established by AB 166, local agencies would be able to accept title of vessels from willing owners for the purpose of disposal. Abating vessels before they are abandoned will protect the state’s waterways and is the least expensive disposal option.
"We look forward to adding this new tool in our battle against abandoned vessels and their effects on navigation and the environment," said Captain Paul Gugg, Captain of the Port of San Francisco, U.S. Coast Guard. "Allowing boaters to voluntarily turn in their boats for disposal will reduce the amount of abandoned vessels in our waterways and further strengthen our unified front on this problem."
"Our clients are looking forward to the implementation of this new program," said Bill Krauss, advocate for the bill’s recreational boating and marina cosponsors. "We have worked hard for two years to see this bill through, and with it finally becoming law, we can now work even harder to clean up our state’s waterways."
AB 166 is cosponsored by San Francisco Baykeeper, California State Sheriffs’ Association, California Association of Harbor Masters & Port Captains, California Marine Parks & Harbors Association, California Yacht Brokers Association, Marina Recreation Association, Northern California Marine Association, and Western Boaters Safety Group.
(Sacramento) – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill (AB) 962, authored byAssemblymember Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles) late last night. The bill restricts the access to bullets by criminals, gang members and other persons prohibited from possessing firearms.
“I am very pleased that the Governor approved giving law enforcement the valuable tool to track down armed and dangerous criminals and gang-bangers in our communities,” said De León. “AB 962 will take ammunition out of the hands of those dangerous individuals and is a critical component for cracking down on the gang violence terrorizing neighborhoods in many urban communities across California.”
AB 962 prohibits the selling of handgun ammunition to criminals and gang members. It also mandates that ammunition must be safely stored and requires purchasers of ammunition to show ID and provide a thumbprint. The thumbprint will enable local law enforcement to conduct reliable, real time background checks on ammunition purchasers and track down those that illegally purchase such ammunition.
AB 962 is built upon successful local ordinances in Los Angeles and Sacramento and which has led to the arrest of hundreds of armed and dangerous criminals and the confiscation of hundreds of firearms, including machine guns, assault weapons and bombs.
According to a RAND study, this type of law reduces illegal ammunition purchases and increases the detection and apprehension of dangerous persons who should not be armed and are likely to commit additional violent crimes in the future.
In just the last year, the Sacramento Ordinance allowed law enforcement to track down and arrest individuals who were prohibited from purchasing ammunition. Of those arrested, nearly 200 hundred were armed and dangerous criminals;151 had felony convictions; Five gang members, 44 were on probation; 41 were second strikers; two of them were third strikers; four were sex offenders; and two had been to prison for murder.
Assemblymember De León says he’s very pleased the Governor signed AB 962. mp3
Assemblymember De León says AB 962 ONLY regulates the sale of ammunition, not guns. mp3
Assemblymember De León says, under AB 962, criminals will not be able to get ammo for their handguns. mp3
Assemblymember De León explains why a statewide handgun ammunition law is needed. mp3
Assemblymember De León says reducing gun violence by regulating the sale of ammunition will benefit all Californians. mp3
(Sacramento) – Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), during a news conference at the state capitol this afternoon, said a comprehensive water solutions package could be brought to the full legislature for review very soon. Speaker Bass says the package will include a strong conservation component, strict water rights enforcement, the creation of a Delta Stewardship Council and multi-billion dollars bond package to pay for desperately needed infrastructure improvements and delta restoration.
"We have worked hard, day and night, especially over the last six days. And I believe that we have made amzing progress," said Speaker Bass. "You know the Governor has called for a special session on water. And I believe him calling for that special session will be helpful for us."
"I believe that this will represent the most comprehensive and significant water infrastructure and policy advances since the state water project was established in the 1960s."
The Speaker also commented on the Governor’s decisions related to the hundreds of bills sent to him by the State Legislature.
Speaker Bass’ opening remarks to media at this afternoon’s news conference. mp3
Speaker Bass says she’s pleased the Governor decided to sign or veto legislation based on its merits.to media at this afternoon’s news conference. mp3
Speaker Bass says she believes a water solutions package is close to being finalized. mp3
(Sacramento) - Assemblymember Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) today announced the Governor signed into law his landmark mortgage reform legislation to address the systematic failures in California’s mortgage industry. AB 260 is one of the most comprehensive new mortgage reform laws in the nation.
“Look out Wall Street, California is no longer the Wild West,” said Assemblymember Ted Lieu. “Although it took two years, I am pleased to have been able to overcome the powerful interests blocking reform so that future generations won’t ever experience this type of crisis. This is a big win for consumers and for the future of California’s housing market.”
AB 260, also joint-authored by Speaker Karen Bass and Assemblymember Pedro Nava, is California’s comprehensive reform response designed to bring trust and security back to the state’s mortgage market, protect borrowers from the most abusive lending practices that caused the foreclosure crisis, and reassure the secondary market that loans bought in California are sound.
“Fraudulent mortgage practices have not only devastated California's economy and caused record unemployment, they have also triggered a national and international financial meltdown,” said Assemblymember Ted Lieu. “This new law cracks down on some of the most abusive lending practices and places significant safeguards on the industry to ensure this crisis never happens again.”
Specific provisions of this bill include: prohibiting the steering of borrowers into higher-priced loans that are more risky than lower-interest, fixed-rate loans for which the borrower had actually qualified; banning negative amortization loans where the loan gets larger the longer the borrower holds the loan; and putting strict caps on prepayment penalties. This bill also enacts a strong fiduciary standard for all mortgage brokers and banks acting as mortgage brokers, and prohibits lenders and brokers from making false or misleading statements relative to the terms of a subprime loan.
“The Governor’s approval of AB 260 is a message that California is no longer the Wild West for the lending industry,” said Pedro Morillas CALPIRG Consumer Advocate. “California has finally taken the first step towards reining in the excesses of banks and brokers.”
California continues to be ground zero for home foreclosures, a direct result of irresponsible lending. According to RealtyTrac, California experienced 92,326 foreclosure filings in August 2009, amounting to one filing approximately every 30 seconds.
(Sacramento) - In a private ceremony today in the State Capitol, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) swore in Assemblymember Steve Bradford to represent the 51st Assembly District. Bradford (D-Gardena) won a special election earlier this month.
“I’m delighted to welcome Steve Bradford to the California State Assembly,” Bass said. “As I noted when I endorsed Steve in his campaign he is experienced in leading during tough fiscal times and that’s exactly the kind of representative the 51st Assembly District and the people of California need right now. Starting right at the end of the session is a real baptism of fire, but I know Assemblymember Bradford will hit the ground running and be an effective and dedicated member of the legislature.”
Assemblymember Bradford said he was honored to be sworn in as a member of the Assembly. “These are difficult times for our state and the legislature is confronted with several major and complex issues. In the days ahead I look forward to working with my colleagues to resolve these issues in favor of our constituents – the people of California,” Bradford said.
He added, “At this moment I want to thank the residents of the City of Gardena for allowing me to serve them for the last twelve years as their City Councilmember and the voters of the 51st Assembly District for giving me the opportunity to serve them as their advocate in Sacramento. I also want to thank Speaker Bass for her counsel and support.”
Assemblymember Bradford defeated four other candidates in a special election held to elect a successor to former Assemblymember Curren Price who was elected to the state Senate.
A public ceremony swearing in for Assemblymember Bradford will be held at later date.
“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.”
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."