Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

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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Frazier touts hard work paying off as transportation bill, gas tax increase he co-authored, passes

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Sacramento, CA – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Discovery Bay) led his colleagues today, Friday, April 7, 2017 in passing Senate Bill 1 and Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 with the required two-thirds vote in both the Assembly and Senate. SB 1 now heads to the Governor for his approval and ACA 5 will head to the voters for their approval.

“Our roads are terrible, costing each person at least $760 in repairs, and the state was really just putting a Band-aid on a broken bone,” he said. “After two years of discussions and negotiations, passing SB 1 today is a testament to efforts to build a remarkable and diverse coalition to improve our transportation system that truly benefits everyone.”

SB 1 will resolve the long-term shortfall in transportation funding by provide new funding to make necessary road safety improvements and repair local streets, freeways, bridges, and overpasses. New revenues will generate on average $5 billion per year to improve efficiencies and effectiveness of transportation maintenance throughout the state. Roughly $3 billion annually will be allocated to fix roads, half of which will be directly allocated for local needs. The remaining $2 billion is split among other transportation-related programs.

Revenue sources for SB 1 include a 12 cent per gallon gas excise tax, ending the annual Board of Equalization adjustment, a 20 cent diesel excise tax, a 4% diesel sales tax increase, a per vehicle transportation improvement fee of no more than $50 for 87% of vehicles, a $100 fee on zero emissions vehicles, and $100 million gained in Caltrans efficiencies.

To ensure that these new revenues are allocated as intended, Frazier authored Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5. ACA 5 locks up transportation-related revenues from vehicle fees for use only for transportation maintenance and improvements, and prohibits use toward paying principal and interest on state transportation general obligation bonds.

An after-hours question was sent to his staff asking if Frazier had first considered reprioritizing existing state spending before pursuing tax increases. Please check back later for his response.

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Sen. Glazer explains vote against transportation bill, gas tax hike

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Cites failure to ensure reliable transit & ineffective use of funds

Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) who represents Antioch and most of Contra Costa County in the California State Senate, issued the following statement today, regarding his vote against SB-1, the transportation funding bill which included a 12 cents per gallon gas tax increase, as well as increases to the Vehicle License Fee. He was the only Democrat in the Senate and only one of two in the entire legislature to vote no.

“I want to thank Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, Sen. Jim Beall and Gov. Jerry Brown for their hard work in addressing the problem of crumbling roads and aging transportation systems.

My constituents are particularly dependent on good roads and highways and reliable transit systems, so I agree we need additional transportation investments.

But this transportation package did not have the support of my district, for good reasons. Even after a multi-million dollar lobbying effort supporting the $52 billion bill, sentiment in my district ran two-to-one opposing these new gas taxes and car registration fees.

My constituents have told me loud and clear that they want any new taxes to be spent more wisely and effectively. For instance, it doesn’t make sense to spend billions of dollars on an unpopular High Speed Rail system that backers claim might be completed by 2029 when it could go for transportation improvements today.

Beyond the issues of setting better spending priorities and taxes, I also believed this bill could have been improved. We need to be more forward thinking, where we recognize the role technology can play in allowing us to use our roads and highways more efficiently.

And we need a plan that provides commuters with the confidence and assurance that reliable transit will be there for them every day of the year.

This bill also failed to ensure that any new transportation funding given to local transportation agencies be used only for the purposes intended and not diverted to other uses.

I was also concerned about last-minute amendments to this bill that the environmental community and air quality regulators say will unwisely limit our ability to control diesel pollution from trucks. These changes have never been fully vetted and deserve more scrutiny.

I look forward to continued discussions with the governor in which we take into account the need to modernize our approach to transportation in an efficient and reliable manner.”

The bill passed both the State Senate and Assembly and awaits the signature of Governor Brown. To learn more about the bill, click here.

 

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