SACRAMENTO – Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins concluded the 2015 legislative session by highlighting the significant gains for Californians made by the Legislature this year.
“When the PPIC report came out last year showing that half of California’s children live in poverty or near poverty, I was moved to act,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “That motivation pushed the Assembly to include the $380 million state Earned Income Tax Credit in the budget for 2 million workers. Struggling Californians looking for work will be aided by the $263 million we provided for a comprehensive package of child-care services.”
2 million Californians will now benefit from the Assembly Democrat-championed $380 million state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
50,000 Californians will be lifted out of poverty and another 50,000 will be lifted out of deep poverty.
More families will be rescued from homelessness due to a $15 million increase in funding to the CalWORKS Housing Support Program to last year’s $20 million.
Affordable Housing: Legislation by the Assembly Democrats expands California’s very-low and extremely low-income housing credit, designates a state agency to administer the funds received from the Federal Housing Trust Fund and seeks to reduce recidivism by providing housing for formerly incarcerated inmates through Proposition 47 savings.
Investments in Education
From Early Education to Higher Education
More than 84,000 students have benefited from the Middle Class Scholarship for the 2014-15 school year, totaling over $56 million in grants.
The Middle Class Scholarship is set to award $80 million in grants for the 2015-16 school year.
The California State University system received $97 million to increase enrollment and fast-track graduation.
The Assembly instituted zero-based budgeting for the University of California system, allowing the public and Legislature to scrutinize whether the UC is spending its money efficiently and whether tuitions could be frozen at current levels.
More than 85,000 community college students stand to benefit from a substantial increase in Cal Grant funding.
This year’s budget includes nearly $500 million for a one-time teacher-effectiveness block grant to help improve performance in the classroom.
The state budget appropriates $265 million to fund an additional 7,130 preschool slots and 6,800 child care slots.
Areas hit hard by the drought were provided immediate relief through a $1 billion drought package in March.
The budget includes $10 million from Proposition 1 aimed at increasing water efficiency.
California also moved to: consolidate the drought water system; give a CEQA exemption for recycled water projects, water codes and well ordinances; expand local enforcement and penalties for drought violations; and require drought monitoring and reporting for some water diversions.
The Legislature passed SB 350, a landmark climate-change bill that pushes for stronger standards for renewable energy and building energy efficiency.
Legislation that ensures diversity on the state Air Resources Board was passed.
SACRAMENTO – Legislation by Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins to ensure diversity on the state Air Resources Board (ARB) passed the Legislature and is pending the Governor’s approval.
“Nearly half of all Californians live within six miles of a facility that emits significant amounts of greenhouse gases,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “These communities have some of the highest rates of exposure to air pollution and other environmental hazards. By requiring two new members who represent such communities, AB 1288 will ensure that the Air Resources Board will consider the environmental needs of California’s diverse population.”
AB 1288 would require the Speaker of the Assembly and the Senate Committee on Rules to each appoint one member who works with environmental justice communities to the ARB, expanding the Board to 14 members.
According to the ARB, air-pollution exposure accounts for 19,000 premature deaths, 280,000 cases of asthma and nearly 2 million lost work days each year. In California, people of color face a 50% higher chance of cancer due to air pollutants. The ARB’s actions have a significant impact for low-income areas and this bill seeks to integrate the views of those who are burdened by and vulnerable to high levels of pollution.
AB 1288 is supported by the American Lung Association of California, California Environmental Justice Alliance, California League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resource Defense Council and the Sierra Club, California.
(Sacramento) – The California State Assembly has approved landmark climate change legislation that will ensure a cleaner, healthier environment for our children and our grandchildren. Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) says SB 350 extends California’s renewable energy portfolio standard to 50-percent by 2030 and requires the doubling of our energy efficiency activities statewide by 2030. Speaker Atkins told her colleagues, “With SB 350 California is leading by example once again. It sets the course not only for our state but for the nation. And, quite frankly, for the world.” Here’s more from Speaker Atkins in this Assembly Access video.
SACRAMENTO—A bill by Speaker Toni G. Atkins that would make it easier for communities to hold outdoor markets that feature locally sourced seafood – similar to farmers markets – passed the Senate floor today. AB 226, the Pacific to Plate bill, would keep red tape from preventing consumers from buying seafood directly from the local men and women who caught it.
“As we’ve seen by the massive growth of farmers markets across the state, allowing direct sales of produce benefits farmers and consumers,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “These small-business owners and coastal communities throughout California deserve these same opportunities. Pacific to Plate does this by removing unnecessary hurdles in state law.”
The Pacific to Plate bill allows fishermen’s markets to operate as food facilities and fresh fish to be cleaned for direct sale, and it streamlines the permitting process so that commercial fishermen can organize under a single permit—just like certified farmers markets.
“The success of San Diego’s own Tuna Harbor Dockside Market shows that people want access to fresh and sustainable seafood,” said County Supervisor Greg Cox, whose efforts last year aided in the launch of the market, the first of its kind locally. “This legislation will make it easier for fishermen to open more dockside markets in San Diego County and throughout the state.”
The Pacific to Plate bill also establishes guidelines, including compliance with the California Retail Food Code and food-safety requirements.
San Diego’s market celebrated its anniversary in August. It has expanded to include 17 vendors selling their catch, made up of 22 species caught in local waters, including swordfish, yellowtail, squid and white sea bass.
“This law that streamlines the establishment and functioning of fishermen's markets will benefit the environment, fishermen and consumers,” said Peter Halmay, one of the founders of the Tuna Harbor market.
SACRAMENTO—AB 96, by Speaker Toni G. Atkins, which would close loopholes preventing the effective enforcement of existing California law prohibiting the sale of ivory, passed out of the Legislature today and is awaiting approval by the Governor.
“California is one of the top U.S. markets for illegal ivory sales,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “Every day, 96 elephants are slaughtered for their ivory. In Africa, elephants and rhinos are being slaughtered every day for their ivory, and even worse, it’s suspected that the proceeds are being used to fund terrorism. By signing AB 96, the Governor can help strengthen enforcement against the illegal ivory trade in California, which will, in turn, help put an end to poaching.”
SACRAMENTO—Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) announced today that the Assembly Democratic Caucus has selected Assemblymember Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) to become the 70th Speaker of the Assembly. The leadership change will occur after a floor vote in January and a transition period to be determined by the Speaker and the Speaker-designate.
“With the crush of business facing us in the coming final week of the legislative session, I decided it’s time to end all the suspense and speculation so we can focus our undivided attention on the critical issues before us,” Speaker Atkins said. “The Caucus has made an excellent choice, and I’m delighted to see everyone uniting behind Assemblymember Rendon. I know he will find the job as rewarding and challenging as I do.”
“I am deeply honored to have the support of my colleagues to become the next Speaker,” Assemblymember Rendon said. “I also know I have a very tough act to follow, which is why I’ll be working to learn as much as I can from Speaker Atkins as she leads us through the end of session and into next year. I am proud to be part of the Speaker’s team as we finish a very productive year and prepare for more successes in 2016.”
Rendon currently serves as Chair of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee. Prior to serving in the Assembly, he was an educator, non-profit executive director, and environmental activist.
Threat of Deportation Discourages Victims from Reporting Crime
SACRAMENTO – The Assembly passed a bill today by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Speaker Toni G. Atkins to reduce the threat of deportation of immigrant crime victims and foster their trust and cooperation with law enforcement.
“Every time a criminal goes free because the victim fears deportation and the police, we are all a little less safe,” said Pro Tem De León (D-Los Angeles). “Fear and mistrust are obstacles to the administration of justice.”
SACRAMENTO—Legislation that seeks to dramatically reduce elephant and rhino poaching passed the Senate floor on a 26-13 vote today. AB 96, by Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), would close loopholes that prevent the effective enforcement of existing California law prohibiting the sale of ivory.
"Ninety-six elephants are killed every day for their ivory – translating to 35,000 deaths each year," said Speaker Atkins. "This species loss is unsustainable and African elephants are being poached at a higher rate than they are being born, which will result in their extinction. By passing AB 96, the Legislature can help strengthen enforcement against the illegal ivory trade in California, which will, in turn, help put an end to poaching."
SACRAMENTO—Legislation that seeks to reduce recidivism passed the Senate floor today on a 39-0 vote. AB 1056, the Second Chance Program for Community Re-entry, by Speaker Toni G. Atkins, would use Proposition 47 savings to house former inmates.
“By housing formerly incarcerated individuals, we can help successfully integrate them back into our communities,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “AB 1056 can help reduce recidivism and enhance the safety of our communities by ensuring that these former inmates have a place to sleep as they pursue the goal of successfully re-entering the community and getting their lives back on track.”
SACRAMENTO—Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins announced today that she has appointed Mary Luévano to the California Coastal Commission.
Luévano, 50, of Culver City, recently took on the role of director of sustainability for Turf Terminators, a drought-resistant-landscaping company. Prior to that, from 1997 through June 2015, she was an environmental advocate with Global Green USA, a nonprofit organization committed to worldwide sustainability, rising from policy and legislative-affairs director to vice president. She began her career in public service by working for a number of elected officials at the state and national levels.