Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

Frazier votes ‘no’ on proposed bridge toll hikes

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) voted ‘no’ on SB 595, which would require the nine Bay Area counties to hold a special election, known as Regional Measure 3, to propose raising tolls on state-owned bridges in the Bay Area. After the vote, he issued the following statement:

“I recognize the need for funding transportation improvements, but after much thought, I believe adding another tax on commuters is not the answer. I ultimately voted NO on the bridge toll bill because $8 per crossing is just too much of a financial burden on drivers. If you commute from Solano County to San Francisco – entailing two bridge tolls that would potentially total $16 a day – that’s highway robbery.”

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Sen. Glazer’s legislation to create inspector general for BART approved by Senate

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

SACRAMENTO – The state Senate on Thursday passed legislation that will give Bay Area voters a chance to create an independent inspector general for BART to hold the sprawling transit district accountable for its spending, service to riders, and timely delivery of capital projects.

The inspector general was proposed by state Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) as part of a bill by Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) that will ask voters to raise bridge tolls to fund transportation projects designed to relieve traffic congestion in the bridge corridors.

The bill was approved by the Senate on a 27-13 vote.

Glazer, a longtime critic of BART, insisted that voters be given the option of creating the accountability czar as a condition of his support for placing the measure on the ballot. Other major transit agencies, including those in Washington D.C., New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, have long had inspector generals to serve as an independent check on the bureaucracy.

“BART stands to gain about a billion dollars from the toll revenues this measure would generate,” Glazer said. “It’s only fair that riders and residents get an extra set of eyes and ears inside the agency to hold the administration accountable.”

If approved by voters, the inspector general would be appointed by the governor from a list of three finalists nominated by the BART board. The person could be fired only with a two-thirds vote of the board and the governor’s agreement.

The BART inspector general would be tasked with investigating fraud, waste and inefficiencies, conducting audits and recommending changes in the agency’s practices that will improve services to riders.

And in a twist, Glazer, who has been at odds with BART’s unions in the past, insisted on adding a line to the inspector general’s mission requiring the office to assess whether management was using best practices to promote “positive and productive” relations with employees and their representatives.

“The vast majority of BART employees are hard-working, dedicated public servants who share their customers’ desire to have trains that run on time, stations that are safe and clean, and escalators and elevators that work when they are supposed to,” Glazer said. “I hope the employees and their unions will find an inspector general to be an effective ally in making those things a reality.”

Glazer also pushed for amendments to the bill that ensured Contra Costa and Alameda county commuters would see a fair share of congestion relief projects if the toll increases become a reality.

Projects to improve traffic flow on Interstate 680 and rebuild interchanges where 680 connects to state routes 4 and 84 were included in the final version of the proposed spending plan.

Glazer praised Sen. Beall, and Assemblymen David Chiu and Phil Ting of San Francisco and other members of the Bay Area legislative delegation for a collaborative process that allowed for input from throughout the region and a final proposal that included the crucial provision to oversee BART’s administration and spending.

“No one got everything they wanted, but this is a fair compromise that will give the voters an opportunity to fund projects designed to relieve congestion throughout the entire region while providing independent oversight of the district’s practices,” Glazer said.

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Frazier’s “Jeff Belle” bill to increase penalties for ballot statement lies advances to Gov’s desk

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Jeff Belle, source Contra Costa County Board of Education

SACRAMENTO – The full Legislature has approved a bill by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) which would assess a financial penalty on candidates who lie on ballot statements when seeking political office. AB 894 now goes to the governor for his signature.

AB 894 would impose a fine of up to $5,000 if a candidate includes knowingly false information on statements they submit for inclusion on election ballots. The fine can be multiplied if an offender is convicted on associated criminal charges.

“Candidates who shamelessly lie to voters are committing fraud and they should pay the penalty,” Frazier said. “For many voters, the only information they may have about a candidate is what the candidate submits for a ballot statement. This is especially true in down-ballot races, such as the Board of Education, which usually don’t get a lot of media coverage.”

Frazier authored AB 894 after a Jeff Belle, a candidate elected to represent East County on the Contra Costa County Board of Education in 2014, was found to have blatantly lied about his qualifications, background and criminal record in the candidate statement he submitted for inclusion on the ballot. Instead of a punishment, the candidate received just an entry into a diversion program for offenders. The current fine for intentionally misleading voters on ballot statements is $1,000.

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McNerney asked to oppose bill to gut restaurant menu health labeling requirements

Monday, September 11th, 2017

By Colin Schwartz, Nutrition Policy Associate, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)

On Friday, Aug. 25, Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb made it clear that calorie labels on menus are here to stay for all Americans. As Politico put it, “In the era of President Donald Trump’s war on regulations, one Obama-era rule — menu labeling — appears to be surviving.”

Unfortunately, a bill (H.R. 772) is working its way through Congress that would gut these menu labeling requirements, and undo recent progress toward giving Californians the information they need to make healthy choices about what to eat and what to feed their families. Now that the Trump Administration has affirmed it won’t delay menu labeling any further, it’s time for Congress to abandon this misguided effort. We are asking Rep. Jerry McNerney, who represents a portion of Antioch in the House of Representatives, to take a strong stand for informed consumer choice by opposing H.R. 772.

California’s adult and childhood obesity rates have steadily increased every decade since 1990, despite having the fifth lowest adult obesity rate in our nation. The rate also varies by community – currently, 77 percent of Latino adults are obese or overweight. California’s Department of Health Care Services has recognized that despite California’s best efforts, “obesity is clearly a significant driver of health problems and healthcare costs.”

Every Californian should have the information they want and need to choose healthy food for their families. Unfortunately, Congress is intent on curbing the freedom of consumers by denying them basic information about what they are ordering in restaurants. They also seem set on undoing California’s progress by scuttling the menu labeling law through the so-called Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (H.R. 772).Please see the comparison chart by the CSPI below. This bill ignores the reality that our nation’s top 50 restaurant chains have already committed to empowering consumers by including calorie counts at their locations across the country. Additionally, an independent economic analysis already found that the FDA’s decision to delay the enactment of the rule by one-year could already cost consumers an astounding $15 for every $1 saved by industry. Now imagine the damage H.R. 772 could have on consumers and our economy if signed into law.

This bill is contrary to Californians’ preferences. California passed the first state menu labeling law in our nation in 2008 to support and protect consumer choice. Since the signing of the legislation, California-based chains from California Pizza Kitchen to Taco Bell have shown that menu labeling can be accomplished without sacrificing customer satisfaction.

As Adam Russell of Santa Cruz, CA wrote in response to the FDA delaying implementation of the final menu labeling rule: “People deserve to be able to make informed choices.”

We all must remain vigilant not just about congressional efforts, but the FDA’s final guidance on the menu labeling rule later this year to ensure that the consumer-choice spirit of the rule remains intact. Unfortunately, anti-consumer industry groups and some corporate interests are lobbying Congress hard and against public will to deny Americans choice on a host of critical nutrition issues, including this one. It will only get worse now that the FDA didn’t decide in their favor.        

The bill is moving quickly. It has already passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with Rep. McNerney voting in favor of it and is headed to the House floor (and possibly to the Senate) for a vote, possibly this or next week. 

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has been providing advice and advocacy toward a healthier food system since its founding in 1971. They publish Nutrition Action Healthletter and NutritionAction.com and lead action across the country on nutrition, food safety, and health.

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Senate committee approves Frazier’s “Jeff Belle Bill” to increase penalties for ballot statement lies

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Jeff Belle, source Contra Costa County Board of Education

Increases maximum fine from $1,000 to $20,500

SACRAMENTO – The Senate Public Safety Committee has unanimously approved a bill by Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, which would impose stiff financial penalties on candidates who lie on ballot statements when seeking political office. AB 894 would impose a fine of up to $5,000 if a candidate includes knowingly false information on statements they submit for inclusion on election ballots. If an offender is convicted of associated criminal wrongdoing, a formula that multiplies the base fine could result in as much as $20,500 in total financial penalties for those who intentionally lie to voters.

“The penalty for shamelessly lying to voters should be very painful,” Frazier said. “And right now, it’s not painful enough. Often, the only information a voter may have about candidates is what is contained in ballot statements, especially in races for local offices that might not get a lot of press coverage. AB 894 creates a strong deterrent to dishonest candidates who falsify their qualifications in an attempt to mislead voters.”

Frazier authored AB 894 after Jeff Belle, a candidate in East County who was elected to the Contra Costa County Board of Education in 2014, was found to have blatantly lied about his qualifications, background and criminal record in the candidate statement he submitted for inclusion on the ballot. The current maximum fine for intentionally misleading voters on ballot statements is $1,000. However, instead of a punishment, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office allowed Belle to receive just an entry into a diversion program for offenders which required he admitted he didn’t have a degree and perform 20 hours of community service. (See related article).

AB 894 has received unanimous bipartisan support in every committee and floor vote. It has been approved by the Assembly Elections Committee, the full Assembly and the Senate Elections and Public Safety committees without a single “no” vote. The bill’s final vote will be on the Senate Floor after the Legislature returns from recess. If the full Senate approves AB 894, it will go to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

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Gov. signs Frazier bill allowing funds for out of state school field trips

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Sacramento, CA Gov. Jerry Brown, Monday signed AB 341 by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), which gives local school districts the authority to use funds at their discretion for student participation in field trips or excursions to other states, the District of Columbia, or a foreign country.

“School districts have been explicitly prohibited from using funds to help students participate in field trips or educational excursions out of state,” Frazier said. “AB 341 changes this, allowing schools to use district funds to enhance educational opportunities by increasing access to student resources and improving the outcomes that students experience.”

 The idea for AB 341 came locally from the Fairfield-Suisun School District, which is in the 11th Assembly District. In the spring of 2016, Armijo High School and Grange Middle School VEX robotics teams qualified to participate in the world competition in Kentucky. The students on these teams needed financial assistance to attend the competition. The school district was required to file for a waiver to the state Department of Education, in order to use district funds for this purpose.  AB 341 will eliminate the need for a waiver, allowing school districts to use their own discretion on whether to use district funds for travel that enhances student educational experiences.

 “This common-sense legislation grants local school districts the authority to use funds to help students whose families may not have the financial means to pay for these types of opportunities,” Frazier said. “I thank Fairfield-Suisun School District for bringing the need for this legislation to my attention and for the district’s strong support of AB 341 during the legislative process.”

Assemblymember Jim Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove. To contact him please visit his website at www.asmdc.org/frazier or call his District Offices at 707-399-3011 or 925-513-0411. Follow him on Facebook and “Like” him for updates on events and happenings in the 11th AD.

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Frazier’s bills pass Assembly, forwarded to State Senate for votes

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Sacramento, CA – Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D – Discovery Bay) passed his remaining bills from the Assembly Floor leading up to today’s (Friday, June 2, 2017) House of Origin deadline. Eleven of his bills were brought up for a vote this week, passed and now head to the Senate. 

“These bills reflect the very best for my district. They protect farm land and open space, make our streets safer, improve recycling rates and deter illegal dumping, and encourage healthy relationships,” Frazier stated. “I’ve been working my tail off to make sure they pass and will continue to put in a tremendous effort as they move through the Senate.”

The Assemblyman took up the following bills:

AB 63 extends California provisional driver’s licenses to be required for all first time drivers under the age of 21. This measure will reduce the numbers of older teen deaths and accidents which, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the CDC, are the leading cause of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths for California children ages 1 to 19 years old. AB 63 passed on the Assembly Floor on a 47 to 21 vote.

AB 377 establishes a pilot program to maximize on unused funding to create a childcare subsidy plan for local families and child care providers in high-cost counties of Solano and San Diego. In Solano County, it’s estimated that over 100 more children would be eligible for child care at no additional cost. AB 377 passed on the Assembly Floor on a 77 to 0 vote.

AB 472 will facilitate waterfowl conservation and other environmental benefits on private lands in a voluntary, incentive-based manner and allow non-irrigated crop to remain on lands for the benefit of waterfowl. AB 472 passed on the Assembly Floor on a 76 to 0 vote.

AB 509 creates the Tire Recycling Incentive Program (TRIP) to meet state’s mandated tire recycling rate of 75% by 2020. Californians generate over 44 million waste passenger tires every single year but only recycles 37%, largely due to illegal dumping. AB 509 passed on the Assembly Floor on a 45 to 30 vote.

AB 521 lowers the cost for an elk tag for hunting from $450 to $100 for adults and $20 for apprenticeship tags for children. This brings the cost of an elk tag in California more in line with other states. AB 521 passed on the assembly floor on a 67 to 4 vote.

AB 643 requires schools to teach age-appropriate lessons about the early warning signs of domestic abuse and unhealthy relationships. AB 643 passed on the assembly floor on a 77 to 0 vote.

AB 718 allows private wetland owners to initiate the opportunity to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with their local Mosquito Vector District regarding mosquito pesticide abatement.  This measure will implement a more uniform approach between public and private land to mosquito abatement and associated costs. AB 718 passed on the assembly floor on a 76 to 0 vote.

AB 732 ensure that levees throughout the Delta are properly maintained, protecting farmland and communities. This will extend the sunset for a 75% – 25% funding formula that shares maintenance costs of Delta levees between the state and the local agency. AB 732 passed on the assembly floor on a 71 to 1 vote .

AB 1607 is an effort to create career and employment opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities. This bill seeks to build self-sufficiency through job discovery and readiness training. AB 1607 passed on the assembly floor on a 75 to 0 vote.

AB 1633 creates regulations for private establishment of highway exit signs with information for electric vehicle charging facilities. AB 1633 passed on the assembly floor on a 76 to 0 vote.

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Frazier’s “Jeff Belle bill” on candidate accountability passes Assembly committee

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Jeff Belle, source Contra Costa County Board of Education

Increases maximum fine from $1,000 to $10,000

Sacramento, CA – On Wednesday, May 10th, legislation by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Discovery Bay) that will raise penalties for candidates for office who make willful misrepresentations on their candidate statements passed the Assembly Elections committee on an unanimous 7-to-0 vote.

“We can’t allow candidates to dupe the voters…to lie their way into office when tax dollars or the education of our children are at stake,” Frazier stated. “When the public’s trust is in question, the public deserves to know the truth when reading an official candidate statement. This bill holds candidates accountable by increasing the fine for any willful misrepresentation.”

AB 894 would increase the current fine for a willful misrepresentation in a candidate statement to $10,000. The current fine is set at a maximum of $1,000, which has not been an effective deterrent and has not kept up with inflation.

In August 2015, the Contra Costa District Attorney filed a suit in court, The People of the State of California vs. Jeffrey Belle, against a candidate for the Contra Costa Board of Education for knowingly making a false statement of fact in a candidate statement with the intent to mislead voters. In this particular case the candidate falsified his education credentials, his residence, and his criminal record. Instead of a punishment including a fine, he received only entry into a diversion program for offenders, despite the injustice perpetrated upon the voters. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this remains a problem in other jurisdictions.

AB 894 now heads to the Assembly Floor.

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