Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

Rep. DeSaulnier to hold Town Hall on GOP Tax Plan Monday, Nov. 20 in Orinda

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Washington, DC – Monday night, Nov. 20th Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D, CA-11) will host a town hall meeting on the Republican tax plan. Since coming to Congress in January 2015, Mark has hosted 50 town halls and mobile district office hours throughout Contra Costa County.

Congressman DeSaulnier will host two town halls. Details are below:

ORINDA IN PERSON TAX TOWN HALL

Monday, November 20th

6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. PST

Miramonte High School, Theater

750 Moraga Way

Orinda, CA 94563

RSVP Using the Link Below:

https://desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp

 For more information on these events or to request ADA accommodations contact Congressman DeSaulnier’s offices in either Walnut Creek, Richmond, or Washington, DC. DeSaulnier represents portions of Antioch and Contra Costa County in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Governor vetoes “Jeff Belle” bill that would have increased penalties for ballot statement lies

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Nicknamed for county school board member; Brown “not convinced it’s a widespread problem…”

By Allen Payton

A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier to increase penalties on candidates who lie on their ballot statements was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday, Oct. 15. The bill, AB 894 was introduced in response to the ballot statement by Contra Costa County Board of Education Trustee Jeff Belle during his 2014 campaign, in which he wrote that he had earned a degree in political science, when he had not been awarded one by his alma mater.

The county District Attorney’s office prosecuted Belle who could have been fined a maximum of $1,000 for the violation. However, both sides agreed to a diversion program of community service, instead. (See related article).

Belle, through his attorneys, argued that he had done all the course work to earn the degree and even walked during graduation ceremonies, but that due to not paying some fees it was never conferred on him.

Frazier, who represents portions of Eastern Contra Costa County where Belle resides, was elected and also represents portions, wanted to increase the maximum penalty to $5,000. The legislation passed easily through both the Assembly and the Senate.

But, the governor didn’t believe it was necessary, stating in his veto message for the bill, that he was “not convinced that this is a widespread problem in California elections or that this bill would be much of a deterrent.”

That leaves in place the current maximum fine for lying on a ballot statement that is sent to all voters in a district. It also means that there is a greater, maximum fine of $1,000 and penalty of up to three years in prison for lying on a candidate’s nomination papers which remain with the elections official and is not made available to the public. Frazier considered that backwards.

An attempt to reach the Assemblyman for comment for this report was unsuccessful.

Belle’s term in office ends in 2018 and the election will be held next November.

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Governor signs Sen. Glazer bill to return greater local control to school districts

Friday, October 13th, 2017

SB 751 would eliminate the limit on reserves for most small school districts and raise it to 10 percent for others

SACRAMENTO – School districts will have a greater ability to manage their own fiscal affairs under a bill that Gov. Jerry Brown signed on Wednesday.

The bill, SB 751, jointly authored by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo and Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, eliminates the reserve cap for most small school districts and substantially reduces reserve fund obligations for large school districts.

“This measure significantly reverses an ill-advised law limiting local school reserve funds. School districts will now be able to more fully prepare for a rainy day, which may be right around the corner,” Glazer stated. “I would hope that eventually we can eliminate any type of cap on school reserves and keep the state out of micromanaging local school districts’ budgets. I want to thank Senator Hill and the California School Board Association for their leadership on this critical local control issue.”

Glazer represents most of Contra Costa County including all of Antioch in the California State Senate.

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Gov. gives Bay Area voters chance to increase bridge tolls by $3 to fund transportation on next year’s ballot

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

The setting sun reflects off of the Carquinez Bridge’s towers. This bridge project was funded through Regional Measure 1. Photo courtesy of MTC.

Some of the $4.5 billion in projects would benefit Antioch, East County

By Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Governor Brown’s action today to sign into law Senate Bill 595 clears the way for Bay Area voters to decide – potentially as early as next June – on Regional Measure 3 (RM 3), which would raise tolls by up to $3 on the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges to finance the sweeping $4.5 billion package of congestion relief and mobility improvement projects identified in the bill. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), in its role as the Bay Area Toll Authority, is expected to decide by early 2018 when the RM 3 question will appear on ballots in the nine Bay Area counties. The Commission also will decide the amount of the proposed toll increase and whether the proposed increase would be instituted all at once or phased in over several years.

The RM 3 expenditure plan provides mobility improvements in each of the region’s seven state- owned bridge corridors, helping to speed up commutes and provide better travel options, particularly for those traveling to major job hubs, such as San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The plan includes numerous congestion relief projects in the bridge corridors, including new express lanes, a direct freeway connector from northbound U.S. 101 to eastbound Interstate 580 in Marin County to improve access to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge as well as improvements to the westbound approach in Contra Costa County; constructing a direct connector between Interstates 680 and 880 in Fremont and improvements to the I-680/State Route 84 interchange in Alameda County serving the Dumbarton Bridge; upgrading the I-680/State Route 4 interchange in Contra Costa County serving the Benicia Bridge corridor and the U.S. 101/State Route 92 interchange in San Mateo serving the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge; various improvements to relieve congestion in the Dumbarton Bridge corridor and improve State Route 37 in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties; completing the widening of U.S. 101 to three lanes in each direction through the Marin-Sonoma Narrows. Major public transit improvements that would be funded by the measure include 306 new BART cars that will expand the fleet to accommodate record ridership; new ferries and expanded service and terminals across San Francisco Bay; further extension of BART’s Silicon Valley service to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara; extending Caltrain to downtown San Francisco; expanding transbay bus service and AC Transit’s bus rapid transit lines serving the transbay corridor; extending the new SMART rail system to Windsor; and expanding San Francisco’s fleet of Muni Metro rail cars to improve transit access not just to San Francisco, but within it as well. RM 3 also would fund a $150 million grant program to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to regional transit hubs and to close gaps in the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Proposed projects that would benefit Contra Costa County, Antioch and East County.

“Nobody likes higher tolls,” commented MTC Chair and Rohnert Park Mayor Jake Mackenzie. “But nobody likes traffic jams or crush-loaded train cars either. The Bay Area has been blessed by seven straight years of strong economic growth. But the price we’ve paid is the growing congestion on our freeways, railways and ferries. If our region is going to maintain its economic leadership, we have to invest in projects that will keep businesses and their workers moving. Gov. Brown and the state Legislature deserve a lot of credit for shaping RM 3 into a comprehensive and integrated strategy that will modernize both our highways and our transit networks.”

For details on the complete range of investments that would be funded if a majority of voters in the nine Bay Area counties approve RM 3, go to the MTC website or see the complete list, here.

MTC is the transportation planning, financing, and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

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Gov signs Frazier bill helping youth recognize early warning signs of domestic abuse

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Adds instruction on adolescent relationship abuse and intimate partner violence to sexual health education

SACRAMENTO – Middle and high school students in California public schools will receive education on how to spot the early warning signs of abusive relationships under a bill authored by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) that Gov. Jerry Brown signed on Saturday.

Frazier’s bill, AB 643, adds instruction on how to recognize early warning signs of adolescent relationship abuse and intimate partner violence to sexual health education at California public schools, for grades 7-12.

“Domestic violence invariably leads to tragedy – broken families, long periods of incarceration and far too often homicide,” Frazier said. “It leaves untold suffering in its aftermath. It consumes law enforcement and other emergency resources. AB 643 gives our children the knowledge they need to help stop this destructive behavior before it becomes tragic. I thank the governor for recognizing the importance of this early education and its potential to prevent future suffering.”

Frazier authored AB 643 after a constituent, Sonia McClellin, came forward to relate the story of her sister’s murder at age 24 by an abusive boyfriend. Ms. McClellin asked Frazier to find a way to help educate youth to recognize the type of behavior that led to the tragedy that took her sister’s life.

“On behalf of my sister Deborah and my entire family, I would like to thank Assemblymember Frazier and his staff, who tirelessly saw this process through to the end,” McClellin said. “If any good can come of my sister’s tragic death, it would be that we now having something in place to educate our youth in an effort to prevent domestic violence from happening in the first place.”

Assemblymember 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.

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Reps. DeSaulnier, Smucker introduce bipartisan bill to spur innovative changes to transportation systems

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Washington, DC – Today, Wednesday, October 4, 2017, as we recognize National Smart Cities Week, U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Members Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) announced bipartisan legislation that would establish $100 million in new grant funding for cities to invest in and use innovative technologies and solutions for the purpose of improving transportation and mobility. The Moving FIRST Act (H.R. 3901) was introduced to build upon the Department of Transportation’s Smart Cities Challenge, by increasing the funding available and making it an annual grant opportunity.

“Seventy five percent of all Americans are expected to live in urban areas by 2050. We need to invest in the best way to move our people and our goods in ways that reduce congestion, improve public health, and are tailored to the needs of our communities,” said DeSaulnier. “We’ve already seen how smart technologies succeed in the Bay Area and California, and I am proud to partner with my colleague Representative Smucker to create grant opportunities for cities across the nation, and of all sizes, to advance cutting edge technologies.”

“This week is National Smart Cities Week – a perfect time to refocus our efforts in support of innovative and creative solutions to help our cities work better,” said Smucker. “Investments in smart infrastructure projects help move people to job centers, products to market, and connect economic hubs. Expanding initiatives like the Smart Cities Challenge will help kick start improvements in transit and connectivity in cities like Lancaster and Reading. I am glad to work with Rep. DeSaulnier to introduce the Moving FIRST Act and I look forward to continuing my work to improve our nation’s infrastructure.”

H.R. 3901 would make annual grant awards available to communities of all different sizes which seek to advance projects like autonomous vehicle technology and sensor-based infrastructure in order to meet the transportation challenges they face. Specifically, the bill establishes the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Challenge Grant, which will annually award:

  • A large city with up to $50 million in grant funding
  • A mid-sized city with up to $50 million in grant funding
  • Two rural communities or regional partnerships with up to $20 million in grant funding or 20% of the total funds available

Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced companion legislation, S. 1809, in the Senate.

National Smart Cities Week brings together city leaders, innovative companies, and policymakers to engage in a national dialogue to better understand and prepare for the ways new technologies will impact the ‘city of the future.’

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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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