2018-19 Legislative Session Recap
The damage to Californians’ pocketbooks, the ability to live affordably and the need to keep communities safe, are all important issues at stake in the more than 1,000 bills that were sent to Governor Jerry Brown when the legislative session came to a close on August 31st.
The end of this year’s session signaled an end to the long list of some of the most extreme, radical legislation I have witnessed in all my years of public service.
Some of the more controversial policies passed this year include legalizing injection centers so addicts can legally shoot up heroin; validating the illegal diversion of $331 million from a legal settlement that was intended for families caught up in the mortgage crisis; and potentially increasing high energy costs by a significant amount.
Here are some of the worst examples advanced by legislative Democrats in the final days of the legislative session:
- 100 (de Leon) - Without regard to keeping energy costs as low as possible, the measure mandates that California get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources. California already pays some of the highest energy rates in the nation and this legislation ignores the needs of our struggling communities by mandating the use of energy sources they may not afford.
- AB 186 (Eggman) - Legalizes heroin injection sites.
- 1184 (Ting and Chiu) - Imposes a tax of up to 3.25 percent on each ride provided by a self-driving or driverless vehicle - even though no self-driving or driverless cars offering ride-sharing are in existence.
- AB 861 & SB 1829 (Committee on Budget Fiscal & Review) - Validates the illegal diversion of $331 million from the National Mortgage Special Deposit Fund.
- AB 2965 & SB 974 (Arambula and Lara) - Provides state health insurance (Medi-Cal) to undocumented immigrants aged 19-25 and those over 65. The yearly cost of these programs is estimated at $880 million.
- SB 439 (Mitchell) - Mandates that any crime committed by a minor under the age of 12 be completely excluded from handling within the juvenile court system, with some rare exceptions such as forcible sex crimes and murder. The legislation fails to consider that the juvenile court system also provides for the protection and rehabilitation of the minor, as well as protection for the public. For example, the legislation does not exempt lewd and lascivious acts on a minor under 14, continuous sexual abuse of a minor, attempted murder, robbery, kidnapping, torture, etc.
And sadly, despite the more than 1,000 bills passed during this legislative session, legislative Democrats refused multiple opportunities to pass legislation that actually would have helped hard-working Californians. Some of those bills include:
- SB 1218 (Gaines) - Would have helped families save money for college by making contributions to 529 plans tax deductible in California.
- SB 76 (Bates) - Would have allowed individuals with driver’s licenses expiring in 2018 to renew their driver’s license online or by mail, giving them additional time to get an appointment for a REAL ID at a later date and would also have given drivers 90 days to register out-of-state cars.
- SB 922 (Nguyen) - Would have allowed turning state surplus property near college campuses into affordable housing for college students.
- SB 999 (Morrell) - Would have repealed the unnecessary licensing requirement for several haircare occupations. The bill would have increased employment opportunities in the cosmetology field and reduced restrictions on salon business owners. Shampooing hair alone requires $125 in annual fees and up to $19,000 in tuition and 1,500 hours in coursework to secure a license.
- SB 1211 (Anderson) - Would have created new career opportunities for Californians by empowering employers to train new workers through paid apprenticeship programs.
- SB 1381 (Nielsen) - Would have required California public colleges and universities to protect free speech on campus for all students.
As the Legislature adjourned, Californians are left with very high energy costs, very high housing costs, and very high gas prices which will continue to hurt struggling families. These high costs leave California with the highest poverty rate in the nation. The Legislature has missed plenty of opportunities to help our families this year. Californians deserve better.
Folsom Community Service Day
Senator Gaines joins volunteers to make the Humbug-Willow Creek Trail in Folsom fire safe.
The City of Folsom recently held its fifth annual Community Service Day, a city-wide event that mobilized 3,200 volunteers of all ages and interests to complete 70 different service projects throughout Folsom.
I joined members of the Folsom Fire Department and other community leaders at the Humbug-Willow Creek Fire Hazard Reduction where we removed fire ladder fuels, hanging limbs, and other debris from within ten feet of trails and homes in the Parkway community. This was an important project because we have a huge fire hazard in California’s wild lands, forests and even in our suburban areas. We were able to clean up a lot of debris and create defensible space for nearby residences.
I was simply blown away by the City of Folsom and how people stepped up their volunteer efforts and helped their community with so many worthy projects.
Bill To Help Taxpayers Signed By Governor
I’m proud to announce that Governor Brown has signed my Senate Bill 1246, a bill that will streamline and modernize the process for expediting property tax refunds to California taxpayers.
I’m thankful the Governor recognized this as an important taxpayer protection bill. SB 1246 is simple and fair, two elements of good governance that are too often missing in California. With this bill, we will now be able to resolve any overpayment issues efficiently and quickly, and get taxpayers back what is rightfully theirs.
Under previous law, an outdated and archaic “refund claim form” was required to be mailed to a member of the public who is owed money due to an overpayment of taxes, penalties, assessments, interest or other costs associated with local taxes. The claim form had to be signed and returned by the taxpayer before the county could issue a refund.
SB 1246 will speed up the process to allow the county to simply pay the taxpayer what is owed when an overpayment or refund is discovered without the time-consuming paperwork required under current law.
Government makes it easy to pay them money and hard to get any back. This bill levels the scales and puts the needs of taxpayers first.
2018 California Capital Air Show
Senator Gaines meets United States Air Force airmen (from left to right) Master Sergeant Joshua Kruenegel, Senior Master Sergeant Larry Naso and Tech Sergeant Ryan Korhuniak at the 2018 California Capital Air Show.
If you’ve never been to the California Capital Airshow at Mather Airport, I highly recommend it! The event celebrates the Sacramento region’s rich aviation history and veterans with exciting aerial stunts from the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and other amazing performers. For more information, visit https://californiacapitalairshow.com/.
Bill To Give Consumers More Long-Term Care Insurance Choices Signed By Governor
Governor Brown has signed my Senate Bill 1248, a bill that will provide more options for consumers purchasing long-term care insurance.
The state shouldn’t choke off choices for consumers. SB 1248 opens up avenues to new products for people shopping for long-term care. It’s a mistake to push a one-size-fits-all option on everyone, when people’s finances, levels of care, and personal choices are so different. By changing plan standards we give consumers more control over their care options.
This bill opens new levels of treatment and support for long-term care insurance (LTCI) plans that are covered by California’s Partnership for Long-Term Care. This California government entity certifies special long-term care insurance (LTCI) policies intended for middle-income consumers who may need long-term services and support provided through the Medi-Cal program when they exhaust their policy benefits. The program brings together private insurers and state agencies to offer LTCI products with benefits that coordinate with Medi-Cal’s long-term care program and offer a unique “asset protection” feature that saves the state and policy holders money.
California is seeing a flood of aging and retiring citizens, and the need for long-term care is going to explode. This could decimate private and public budgets unless we plan ahead and get creative with our solutions. SB 1248 gives consumers the flexibility they need to make decisions to protect their assets while getting long-term care and it protects the state budget as well. This bill is a victory for everyone.
Move America Forward
Senator Gaines helps assemble care packages for troops overseas.
I was honored to join Move America Forward, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving our troops on the front lines. We commemorated the anniversary of 9/11 and assembled 2001 care packages for troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. No matter how hard we worked, the people that will receive these packages work harder to protect the freedoms we enjoy. I am eternally grateful for their service. For more information, visit http://www.moveamericaforward.org/.
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