Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

DeSaulnier-authored initiatives in infrastructure bill to improve access to sustainable, reliable transportation pass House

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

Source: The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

13 provisions included in the INVEST in America Act

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier.

Washington, DC – Today, July 1, 2021, 13 initiatives authored by Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D, CA-11) and aimed at promoting sustainable transportation and improving access to safe and reliable public transit were included in the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 221-to-201. The INVEST in America Act is a $715 billion surface transportation reauthorization and water infrastructure bill that will create good-paying jobs to rebuild and reimagine America’s surface transportation infrastructure, with investments in roads, bridges, transit, rail, and drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. 2021 Fact Sheet for INVEST in America Act“California has long been a model for the country in the transportation space, particularly when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and investing in public transportation. The INVEST in America Act aligns with and furthers California’s goals through bold, innovative legislation that would put millions of Americans to work, speed up our economic recovery, and follow through on our commitment to reduce emissions with transformative investments in cleaner transportation,” said DeSaulnier.

DeSaulnier’s measures included in the bill would aid the transition to environmentally clean modes of transportation, improve accessibility of reliable and efficient public transit, increase road safety, and save taxpayer money. Among those provisions are:

  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Enhancement:Based on Congressman DeSaulnier’s Clean Corridors Act (H.R. 2012), the bill would quickly build out EV charging infrastructure nationwide to allow more Americans to shift to environmentally-friendly modes of transportation, saving gas money and our planet, while also creating jobs. The Biden Administration has signaled that this is a top priority.
  • Improved Transportation System Connectivity:Would provide grants to implement better public transportation investment allowing us to create a more interconnected, innovative, and efficient public transportation system that will in turn get more cars off the road, reduce congestion, create more equity, and help fight climate change. This language is part of Congressman DeSaulnier’s Jobs for a Carbon Free Transportation System Act and Incentivizing Value Capture for Greener Transportation Act (H.R. 2205).
  • Greater Transportation Accessibility:Originally included in Congressman DeSaulnier’s COMMUTE Act (H.R. 3581), this provision would enhance transportation planning and equity by improving access to essential services like jobs, health care and childcare facilities, and affordable housing.
  • Enhanced Trucking Safety and Oversight: The bill includes requirements that enhance motor carrier compliance with labor and workplace safety laws, ensuring that our truckers and other road users remain safe on the roads and that motor carriers are held accountable when they violate these protective laws.
  • Transportation Safety Improvement:Based on the Stop Underrides Act (H.R. 1622), co-led by Congressmen Cohen and DeSaulnier, the package directs the Department of Transportation to enhance underride guard protections to prevent deadly truck underride collisions.
  • Efficient Infrastructure Project Delivery:The bill would increase oversight of large infrastructure projects to minimize megaproject cost overruns, delays, and reduced construction quality. Based on Congressman DeSaulnier’s Megaprojects Accountability and Oversight Act (H.R. 2204), this measure would reduce waste, save taxpayer money, and ensure vital infrastructure projects are completed safely and without delay.

The bill still requires approval by the U.S. Senate.

Congressman DeSaulnier is a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He previously served as Chair of the California State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee as well as the California Assembly Transportation Committee. He is also a former member of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and has been a longtime leader in advocating for sustainable transportation as well as safe and efficient public transportation systems.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Frazier bill to eliminate Los Medanos Healthcare District passes Assembly on 70-0 vote

Friday, May 14th, 2021

Source: Office of Assemblymember Jim Frazier

Would transfer tax revenue to county, eliminate Antioch Mayor Thorpe’s executive director job

On Monday, May 10, 2021, Assemblymember Jim Frazier’s (D-Fairfield) bill, AB 903, to dissolve the Los Medanos Community Healthcare District, unanimously passed the Assembly floor on a 70-0 vote. The district serves Pittsburg and Bay Point.

AB 903 will require Contra Costa County to be the successor of all rights and responsibilities of the district. AB 903 will also require the county to complete a property tax transfer process to ensure the transfer of the district’s health-related ad valorem property tax revenues to the county in order to operate the Los Medanos Area Health Plan Grant Program.

The Los Medanos Hospital closed in 1994 but the district, covering Pittsburg and Bay Point, has continued to exist, collecting property taxes and using the funds to pay for staff and provide grants to local organizations, direct service programs including a community garden and district sponsored programs including REading ADvantage for early literacy. The district’s 2020-21 Fiscal Year budget projected $1.13 million in tax revenue and $1.3 million in expenses.

“This bill effectively creates hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for badly needed healthcare services in the region. A lot of this funding comes from the savings on LMCHD’s extremely high administrative expenses, which topped 60% in some years,” said Frazier.

The Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) has approved of the dissolution of the existing healthcare district, and Contra Costa County already serves the communities within district boundaries.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed critical shortfalls in healthcare and health services funding across the state. Communities of color have been especially impacted by the emergency,” said Frazier. “Now more than ever, we have seen the life-changing impacts of devoting every possible dollar to serving those we represent. AB 903 effectively creates hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for badly needed healthcare services in the region.”

“Comparable programs in the county average at about 15% admin cost, and rather than lose over half the funding to wasteful administrative expenses, AB 903 dedicates those dollars to the community,” Frazier added.

Part of the administrative expenses includes Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe’s executive director position which included an annual salary of $96,000 when he was hired in 2019, plus merit-based salary increases, according to the minutes of the Dec. 16, 2019 LMCHD Board meeting. He is also provided one hour of paid personal leave time for every 30 hours worked. When reached, previously about having his position eliminated if the bill is signed into law, Thorpe said he could find another job.

Previously, LMCHD Board President Patt Young challenged Frazier and his legislation, claiming he doesn’t represent but a portion of the healthcare district and that he is “taking political orders from your top political advisor in an effort to turn our district into a political slush fund for one of your top allies on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.” (See related article)

However, Assemblymember Tim Grayson, whose district includes most of the healthcare district, is the Principal couthor of the bill.

The bill requires passage by the State Senate and signing by the governor before it becomes law.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Sex ed transparency bill resurrected to be heard Wednesday after being rejected by Senate Education Committee

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

Contra Costa’s Glazer is a committee member

By Greg Burt

This Wednesday, April 28, the Senate Education Committee is again considering approval of a bill to require school districts to put their sex education material online for easy parental access. The same bill, SB 217, failed in March, even with the support of the committee chair Senator Connie Leyva (D-San Bernardino). The author Senator Brian Dahle (R-Redding) is hoping that removing the requirement that sex education lessons be translated into various languages, will guarantee passage this time. Senator Steve Glazer is a member of the committee.

The President of the California Family Council Jonathan Keller commended Senator Dahle for working hard to resurrect the commonsense proposal. “Whether they vote Democrat or Republican, all parents believe in government transparency, especially regarding the education of their children,” Keller said. “We urge elected officials on both sides of the aisle to set aside partisan politics and support these reasonable protections for kids and families.”

Senator Dahle believes the need for the bill has increased because of the pandemic. “Given the new structure of our schooling system as changed due to COVID-19, we should encourage that parents actively participate in their child’s development and instruction,” Dahle wrote. “The shift to internet-based and technology heavy education has forced schools to prevent parents from physically accessing the school campus during the pandemic. … As such, we need to ensure that parents and students have access to all of the material and curriculum being taught by the school.”

The idea for this bill came from a Bay Area mother named Denise Pursche several years ago when her elementary school resisted showing her the new sex education curriculum to be used for her twin 5th graders. After being sent on detours, and then asking again and again, Denise finally got a chance to look at the actual lessons being used, but she could only review them at the school district office for a limited period of time. Once she saw the graphic, age-inappropriate content, Denise realized why school personnel tried to hide the curriculum from her.

It is common practice for school officials to require parents to come to the school or district offices during school hours if they want to review the sex-ed lessons, a difficult prospect for single parents or homes with two working parents.

With the help of the California Family Council, she got former Senator Mike Morrell to introduce SB 637, a bill not only required sex education materials to be translated into various languages and put online, but required schools to get parental permission before teaching comprehensive sex education to children in elementary school. Currently, parents can opt their children out of classes, but they must initiate the process.

The Senate Education Committee heard Morrell’s bill, SB 673, in January of 2020, but it died along party lines. The committee chair Senator Leyva said at the time she supported the transparency part of the bill, but not the opt-in procedure. So this year, Senator Dahle took Leyva at her word and introduced SB 217 that only included the transparency part of the bill, plus the costly provision that required the curriculum to be translated for parents who didn’t read English. Unfortunately, the bill died 3 – 3, with Senator Richard Pan not voting.

Hopefully, with the cost-prohibitive translation provision removed, at least one of the four Democrats on the education committee, Senators Richard Pan, Dave Cortese, Steven Glazer, or Mike McGuire, will change their minds and vote for the bill. SB 217 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on the morning of Wednesday, April 28.

Take Action

CALL your State Senator and tell them to vote “Yes” on SB 217!

Burt is the Director of Capitol Engagement at the California Family Council.

 

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Frazier bill to dissolve Los Medanos Community Healthcare District passes committee

Friday, April 16th, 2021

Would eliminate Antioch mayor’s job; Board President challenges Frazier whose district doesn’t include most of the healthcare district

By Serina Hartinger, Media & Communications, Office of Assemblymember Jim Frazier

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Friday, April 16, 2021, Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Fairfield) passed AB 903 the Assembly Local Government Committee on a unanimous vote of 8-0 to dissolve the Los Medanos Community Healthcare District. The bill will now be sent to the Committee on Appropriations. If it passes there it will head to the floor for a vote by the full Assembly. Should it pass there, it still needs both State Senate approval and the governor’s signature before becoming law.

The Los Medanos Hospital closed in 1994 but the district, covering Pittsburg and Bay Point, has continued to exist, collecting property tax dollars and using the funds to pay for staff and provide grants to local organizations, direct service programs including a community garden and district sponsored programs including REading ADvantage for early literacy. The district’s 2020-21 Fiscal Year budget projects $1.13 million in tax revenue and $1.3 million in expenses.

“As all of you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed critical shortfalls in healthcare and health services funding across the state. Communities of color have been especially impacted by the emergency,” said Frazier. “Now more than ever, we have seen the life-changing impacts of devoting every possible dollar to serving those we represent. AB 903 is a district bill that takes strides towards addressing this issue. The bill effectively creates hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for badly needed healthcare services in the region.”

AB 903 will dissolve the Los Medanos Community Healthcare District and require the County of Contra Costa to be the successor of all rights and responsibilities of the district. AB 903 will also require the county to complete a property tax transfer process to ensure the transfer of the district’s health-related ad valorem property tax revenues to the county in order to operate the Los Medanos Area Health Plan Grant Program.

The Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) has approved of the dissolution of the existing healthcare district, and Contra Costa County already serves the communities within district boundaries.

The bill was co-sponsored by Assemblymember Tim Grayson, (D-Concord).

The Los Medanos Community Healthcare District (LMCHD) was formed in 1948 to operate the Los Medanos Community Hospital. In rural communities, such districts were created to provide for hospitals that otherwise would not exist. LMCHD operated the hospital until 1994 when the hospital closed due to bankruptcy. Since then, LMCHD has not provided any hospital, physician, or emergency medical services. Instead of providing direct services, LMCHD funds third-party agencies that provide health-related programs.

“This bill effectively creates hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for badly needed healthcare services in the region. A lot of this funding comes from the savings on LMCHD’s extremely high administrative expenses, which topped 60% in some years,” said Frazier. “That is simply unconscionable.”

“Comparable programs in the county average at about 15% admin cost, and a nearby healthcare district runs at a maximum of 20% in admin costs. Rather than lose over half the funding to wasteful administrative expenses, AB 903 dedicates those dollars to the community,” he added.

Some of those administrative expenses include the salary and benefits for Executive Director Lamar Thorpe who is the mayor of Antioch, whose job would be eliminated if the bill becomes law.

UPDATE: In response to efforts to reach him and Board President Patt Young, Thorpe provided the following letter from Young to Frazier.

“Dear Assemblymember Frazier:

On behalf of the Los Medanos Community Healthcare District, I am writing to you in response to your introduction of AB 903.

Given that 98 percent of our healthcare district does not fall within your assembly district, or the fact that you have never attempted to build a relationship with our board or programs, I am quite perplexed as to why you would introduce this legislation without attempting to understand how we serve eastern Contra Costa County.

This letter is not intended to be interpreted as an attempt to appeal to your reason or logic, as we are well aware of the fact that you are taking political orders from your top political advisor in an effort to turn our district into a political slush fund for one of your top allies on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

Let me be clear in stating that, although to you this is simply a political game, to our healthcare district, you are jeopardizing a critical healthcare prevention lifeline for many in our community. From free reading glasses for children to HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, many of the community members we serve participate in our programs because they do not feel that they have their needs met via Contra Costa’s public healthcare system.

Lastly, I have to state for the record that the manner by which you introduced this legislation has been interpreted to be highly disrespectful by both my board and community. I suspect that, if the makeup of our board were more in line with the makeup of the Oakley City Council, you would not have been as disrespectful as you have been to date.

Neither my board, nor my community will stand idly and accept to be treated in any manner less than the respect we deserve.

Sincerely,

Patt Young

President

Los Medanos Community Healthcare District”

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

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DeSaulnier unveils model for energy transition away from oil and gas

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

Introduces three bills

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D, CA-11) announced, Monday, his effort to create a model that will help transition our economy away from petroleum products to cleaner, renewable energy while simultaneously supporting workers, communities, and state and local governments. The model will also create more investments in our transportation system, developing an inter-connected, world-class public transportation network and creating jobs. The coronavirus pandemic has expedited our transition away” from petroleum products which increases the urgency of a planned and serious effort to make sure we shape this transition in a way that works for everyone. DeSaulnier’s model will allow local communities to join with workers, industry, environmental leaders, mayors, and other local elected officials to proactively plan for the transition away from the petroleum industry and support worker transition and training.

As part of this effort, Congressman DeSaulnier announced three bills that will address this transition. The first bill, the Protecting Workers for a Clean Future Act, addresses the imminent market evolution to renewable, clean energy by providing direct support to local communities to convene industry, the local petroleum products workforce whose jobs are at risk, environmental justice advocates, and environmental groups to make a plan to transition workers to meaningful, sustainable work. The market is inevitably moving to cheaper, more sustainable energy sources, and refinery workers across America will fall victim to joblessness if we do not act now.

The second bill, the Jobs for a Carbon Free Transportation System Act, takes a unique approach to addressing the intersection of three of the biggest challenges our nation faces: climate change, outdated infrastructure, and job insecurity. The bill prioritizes and invests in state-of-the-art transportation system reforms that would improve mobility and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by developing low-carbon, efficient, inter-connected, and smart transportation corridors all while creating good paying union jobs. With the inevitable transition away from petroleum products these improvements would have, it also supports workers to transition out of the petroleum products industry and into meaningful, more secure work.

The third bill, the Clean Corridors Act, would launch a federal program that would accelerate the expansion of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure to help reverse climate change and modernize our country’s infrastructure. Specifically, the Clean Corridors Act, which the congressman also introduced in the 116th Congress, would direct $3 billion over the coming decade to construct and install infrastructure to support technologies like hydrogen fuel cell and electric battery-powered vehicles. With this legislation, we can help sustain the growth of the EV market, which means more jobs, a healthier Earth, and a strong economy.

“We’re seeing firsthand in Contra Costa that refineries are idling…and local governments are losing their tax base because of the decrease in…consumption during the pandemic. Failing to address the market shift will inevitably create a snowball effect including dramatic job loss and decreased local and county revenues, which in turn create drastically underfunded schools. The time is now…to shift toward more sustainable sources of energy, but they cannot leave thousands of workers jobless in their wake,” said DeSaulnier. “At home in Contra Costa and around the country, we have the opportunity to set the stage for green jobs that are both worthy of workers’ skills and help our nation in the much-needed fight against climate change. This effort can help make Contra Costa a model for the rest of the nation.”

In developing this effort, the congressman has held dozens of meetings with stakeholders over the past two years, including with local mayors, county supervisors, the Contra Costa County administrator, other elected officials, environmental justice advocates, environmental representatives, labor leaders, university researchers, and other thought leaders on the energy transition.

“I am proud to support Rep. DeSaulnier’s transition model that will support workers while also incentivizing the move toward clean energy,” said Congressman Mike Thompson (D, CA-5), who represents Martinez. “These three bills are a critical step forward in using renewable energy right here in our community while also ensuring that workers have the opportunity for retraining and job opportunities in new industries. I am proud that our region can be an example in this important step toward tackling climate change and paving the way forward for green jobs.”

“We welcome Congressman DeSaulnier’s bold effort since our county is on the front lines of the transition to cleaner energy,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, who represents West County in District 1. “Given the plans of two Contra Costa refineries to end crude oil production and convert to the world’s largest renewable fuels plants, we need to ensure our workers and local economy are not left behind and that residents in communities which bear the burden of pollution benefit from the transition to clean energy.”

“We welcome leadership and assistance from the federal government as we develop plans to help workers, bolster our economy, and support communities that have historically been the most impacted,” said Contra Costa County Administrator Monica Nino.

“As we transition to clean fuels and high-tech energy, it is a matter of equity and economic justice that we support the growth of high-paying jobs and industries to replace those which are being phased out,” said California Assemblyman Tim Grayson. “The green economy presents us the opportunity to not only protect our planet, but to also empower workers, particularly those within historically-marginalized communities, by investing in their training and education.”

“The future of work in the green economy cannot be a race to the bottom in terms of labor standards and not having a voice at work,” said Contra Costa Labor Council Executive Director Josh Anijar. “Contra Costa’s labor movement is encouraged by Congressmember DeSaulnier and all those who are committed toward the future by building the bridge between the green economy and working families.”

“The clean energy economy can work for everyone, providing good paying jobs for a just transition, giving all of us more options,” said Ann Notthoff, retired Natural Resources Defense Council California Advocacy Director.

“The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers has a history of being at the forefront of innovation related to clean, reliable energy.” said International Vice President for the Western States Section of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Tom Baca. “To that end, we continue to advocate for carbon capture, use and storage and other carbon capture technology as a solution – all while preserving and creating jobs, economic growth, and social stability.”

“Contra Costa​ County’s refineries are well aware of the energy future and work every day to help meet it. Local refineries have invested billions to upgrade their facilities as California leads the nation with ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said President and CEO of the East Bay Leadership Council Kristin Connelly. “Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted countless industries including the local energy sector. Protecting the thousands of high paying jobs created by these employers must be a top priority. The East Bay Leadership Council looks forward to working with Congressman DeSaulnier in facilitating industry’s engagement in this process.”

“Congressman DeSaulnier has clearly thought about the American workers and communities that will be impacted by this transition, and he is seeking solutions to ensure those workers and communities are supported as we move into a low-carbon future,” said Citizens’ Climate Lobby Executive Director Mark Reynolds.

Rep. DeSaulnier is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Oversight and Reform Committee. He previously served as the Chair of the State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and in the State Assembly as the first freshman in history to chair the Assembly Transportation Committee. He is also a former Concord City Councilmember, Mayor, County Supervisor, and member of the California Air Resources Board.

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DeSaulnier, Lee introduce Confronting and Correcting Historical Injustices Act

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Bill will “establish commission for Review and Correction of Historical Injustices, and for other purposes.

The Congressman hopes to address the unfair treatment of the Port Chicago 50 during World War II

Representatives DeSaulnier & Lee. Official photos.

Washington, DC – Today, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D, CA-11) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D, CA-13) announced the introduction of the Confronting and Correcting Historical Injustices Act (H.R. 1196), a bill that would establish a commission to recognize and remedy the discrimination suffered by individuals and groups at the hands of the federal government.

The bill would create the Commission for Review and Correction of Historical Injustices, an independent commission responsible for reviewing and investigating federal cases in which individuals and groups have been unjustly discriminated against by federal agencies or entities. Cases eligible for consideration experienced discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation, and where the original act of discrimination led to a charge, conviction, discharge, or dismissal. The Commission would also be responsible for recommending legislative or executive action to adequately make whole those who experienced discrimination.

The proposed bill does not yet include any text, according to the Congressional legislation website.

“Now more than ever, we need to come together as a nation to dismantle the systems that were built to disadvantage people of color and other marginalized groups. To do that, we must confront and correct the injustices the federal government has perpetrated that were based on bias, discrimination, and hate,” said DeSaulnier. “I can think of no better way to celebrate Black History Month than publicly acknowledging those injustices and setting them right. Only by addressing the past can we begin healing the stark divides that continue to exist in our country. I am grateful to lead this effort with a civil rights champion like Congresswoman Lee.

The bill is in addition to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s (D, TX-18) Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act (H.R. 40), that she reintroduced, last month.

“For too long, the federal government has played a central role in creating unjust policies across the United States, from redlining and mortgage discrimination to the systemic racism in our public health system that persists today,” said Lee. “It’s past time that we recognize the legacy of racial inequality in our institutions and call on the federal government to address these historical injustices. The Confronting and Correcting Historical Injustices Act is a critical step in demanding accountability and action from the federal government in order to move forward. I thank Congressman DeSaulnier for his leadership on this issue.”

One example that inspired this legislation is the case of the Port Chicago 50. On July 17, 1944 at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in DeSaulnier’s district and hometown of Concord, California, 435 African American munitions sailors, who were not properly trained or supported by the Navy, were killed or injured when a cargo vessel exploded as they were loading munitions. When 50 of these men refused to return to the unsafe working conditions that killed their fellow sailors without additional supports or training, they were discriminately charged and convicted of mutiny. Without a process like the one the bill creates in place, the families of the Port Chicago 50 have been unable to have their loved ones exonerated.

“Wow! I’m so grateful to Congressman DeSaulnier and Congresswoman Lee for this bill to establish a Commission for Review and Correction of Historical Injustices. It has been long overdue. There has been a painful legacy of injustices in this country and I am hopeful it will help in the exoneration of the Port Chicago 50 who were found guilty of mutiny and severely sentenced even though no mutinous acts occurred. The Friends of Port Chicago National Memorial would like their names to be cleared and the convictions removed,” said Rev. Diana McDaniel of the Friends of Port Chicago National Memorial.

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Glazer’s bill allowing Contra Costa half-cent sales tax increase signed by governor

Friday, October 2nd, 2020

Votes for Measure X will now count; sales taxes in the county could go to 10.75%, highest in California; Glazer’s second tax increase measure on November ballot

State Senator Steve Glazer. From his campaign Facebook page.

By Allen Payton

On the last day possible, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a variety of bills on Thursday, including SB1349 by State Senator Steve Glazer, allowing a countywide half-cent sales tax increase which is designated Measure X on the November ballot in Contra Costa. The votes on that measure will now count. Had the governor vetoed the bill the votes would not have counted. He also had the option of not signing it by the Sept. 30th deadline and the bill would have become law.

The ballot language for Measure X reads as follows: “To keep Contra Costa’s regional hospital open and staffed; fund community health centers; provide timely fire and emergency response; support crucial safety-net services; invest in early childhood services; protect vulnerable populations; and for other essential county services, shall the Contra Costa County measure levying a ½ cent sales tax, exempting food sales, providing an estimated $81,000,000 annually for 20 years that the State cannot take, with funds benefitting County residents, be adopted?”

Glazer introduced the bill in the State Senate on February 21, 2020 focusing on “State responsibility area fire prevention fees”. He changed it to, “Transactions and use taxes: County of Contra Costa” on April 8, 2020 after the March Primary election was decided and the countywide additional half-cent sales tax increase for transportation failed.

It took some maneuvering in the State Senate Governance & Finance Committee to get the bill to the floor for a full vote. The bill first failed on a 3-2-2 vote on May 21. A motion to reconsider the bill then passed 7-0 on May 28 and a final committee vote was held on June 3 with just enough to pass by a vote of 4-2-1. It then passed the full Senate on June 11 by a vote of 27-11-2 with both Glazer and State Senator Nancy Skinner, who represents all of West County, voting in favor.

In the Assembly, Member Tim Grayson carried the bill which passed 48-23-8, with the other three Assemblymembers representing Contra Costa County, Jim Frazier, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and Buffy Wicks not voting.

The Contra Costa County Public Managers Association was coordinating the effort to get the bill passed and the City Managers were the ones who endorsed it, not the various city councils.

The state has a sales tax rate of 7.25%, decreased from 7.5% on January 1, 2017, and state law prevented counties from charging more than 9.25% prior to the bill becoming law. That includes the half-cent sales tax for BART and the additional half-cent sales tax for transportation through the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. That leaves 1% remaining by which the county can increase its sales tax.

The Board of Supervisors considered a sales tax increase that would have only applied to unincorporated areas outside the 19 city limits. But that was quietly set aside.

According to the Senate Governance & Finance Committee Bill Analysis the earlier version of the bill that passed the Senate the first time, would have allowed a possible increase in the countywide sales tax rate to 11.75% in cities that already have a 1% sales tax such as in Antioch, and as high as 12.25% in El Cerrito which has a 1.5% city sales tax. However, the governor’s office said that went too far and the final bill was scaled back.

California’s sales tax rate is high compared to other states, especially when incorporating locally imposed district taxes. Tax experts argue that sales and use taxes are regressive, meaning that the tax incidence falls more on low-income individuals than high-income individuals because those of lesser means generally spend a greater percentage of their income on taxable sales, instead of intangible products or services which are not taxed.

By removing the current Contra Costa Transportation Authority and BART taxes as counting against the cap, in the final version of SB 1349, which passed the Senate the second time and signed by Newsom, allows an additional 1% of room for the county and each of its 19 cities to impose another district of up to 1% in sales tax. If voters approve the 1/2% allowed under Measure X, when it states that existing taxes do not count against the cap, the combined rate would increase to 8.75% countywide, plus any current city rates. The bill also grants Contra Costa County an additional authorization for another 1/2% sales tax increase, such as for the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, thereby boosting the maximum countywide rate to 9.25%, plus any current city rates.

That could result in a rate as high as 10.75% in the City of El Cerrito, where an additional 1.5% rate currently applies, and a 10.25% rate in the City of Antioch where they have a current 1% sales tax.

Glazer had the support of his bill from the California Labor Federation, California Professional Firefighters, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa Transportation Authority, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21, Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 29, and SEIU California.

Those opposed to SB1349 were the Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers, California Taxpayers Association, Contra Costa County Taxpayers Association, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund.

In spite of campaigning as a fiscal conservative, touting a hold the line approach to new taxes, this is Glazer’s second measure on the November ballot that will increase taxes if passed. The other is statewide Prop. 19, which will increase taxes on inherited homes or commercial property. According to Ballotpedia, “The ballot measure would eliminate the parent-to-child and grandparent-to-grandchild exemption in cases where the child or grandchild does not use the inherited property as their principal residence, such as using a property a rental house or a second home. When the inherited property is used as the recipient’s principal residence but has a market value above $1 million, an upward adjustment in assessed value would occur. The ballot measure would also apply these rules to certain farms. Beginning on February 16, 2023, the taxable value of an inherited principal residential property would be adjusted each year at a rate equal to the change in the California House Price Index.”

Following is the Legislative Counsel’s Digest and text of Glazer’s bill:

Senate Bill No. 1349

CHAPTER 369

An act to amend Section 29140 of the Public Utilities Code, and to amend Section 7291 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, relating to taxation.

[ Approved by Governor  September 30, 2020. Filed with Secretary of State  September 30, 2020. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

SB 1349, Glazer. Transactions and use taxes: County of Contra Costa.

Existing law authorizes various specified cities and counties, subject to certain limitations and approval requirements, to levy a transactions and use tax for general or specific purposes, in accordance with the procedures and requirements set forth in the Transactions and Use Tax Law. A provision of the Transactions and Use Tax Law prohibits the combined rate of all taxes that may be imposed in accordance with that law in a county from exceeding 2%.

Existing law authorizes the Contra Costa Transportation Authority to impose a transactions and use tax for the support of countywide transportation programs at a rate of no more than 0.5% that, in combination with other transactions and use taxes, exceeds the above-described combined rate limit of 2%, if certain requirements are met, including a requirement that the ordinance proposing the transactions and use tax be submitted to, and approved by, the voters. Existing law repeals this authorization on December 31, 2020, if an ordinance proposing a transactions and use tax has not been approved by that date.

Existing law, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District Act, creates the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, which comprises a territory that includes the County of Contra Costa, and, among other things, authorizes the board of directors of the district to impose transactions and use taxes in conformity with the Transactions and Use Tax Law for specified purposes, subject to periodic legislative review and amendment, as provided.

This bill would provide that, notwithstanding the combined rate limit under the Transactions and Use Tax Law, neither a transaction and use tax rate imposed in the County of Contra Costa by the transportation authority under the above-described authority nor a transactions and use tax rate imposed by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, as specified, will be considered for purposes of that combined rate limit within the County of Contra Costa. The bill would declare that the changes made with regard to taxes imposed by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority for countywide transportation programs are declaratory of existing law.

This bill would make legislative findings and declarations as to the necessity of a special statute for the County of Contra Costa.

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BILL TEXT

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.

Section 29140 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

29140.

(a) The board shall, by ordinance, impose transactions and use taxes in conformity with Part 1.6 (commencing with Section 7251) of Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code for the purposes specified in Sections 29142 and 29142.2, subject to periodic legislative review and amendment.

(b) (1) Notwithstanding Section 7251.1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, a transactions and use tax rate imposed pursuant to subdivision (a) on or before January 1, 2020, that applies within the County of Alameda shall not be considered for purposes of the combined rate limit within the County of Alameda established by that section.

(2) Notwithstanding Section 7251.1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, a transactions and use tax rate imposed pursuant to subdivision (a) on or before the effective date of the act adding this subdivision that applies within the County of Contra Costa shall not be considered for purposes of the combined rate limit within the County of Contra Costa established by that section.

SEC. 2.

Section 7291 of the Revenue and Taxation Code is amended to read:

7291.

(a) Notwithstanding any other law, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority may impose a transactions and use tax for the support of countywide transportation programs at a rate of no more than 0.5 percent that would, in combination with all taxes imposed pursuant to Part 1.6 (commencing with Section 7251), exceed the limit established in Section 7251.1, if all of the following requirements are met:

(1) The Contra Costa Transportation Authority adopts an ordinance proposing the transactions and use tax by any applicable voting approval requirement.

(2) The ordinance proposing the transactions and use tax is submitted to the electorate and is approved by the voters voting on the ordinance pursuant to Article XIII C of the California Constitution.

(3) The transactions and use tax conforms to the Transactions and Use Tax Law, Part 1.6 (commencing with Section 7251), other than Section 7251.1.

(b) (1) Notwithstanding Section 7251.1, a transactions and use tax rate imposed pursuant to subdivision (a) shall not be considered for purposes of the combined rate limit established by Section 7251.1.

(2) This subdivision does not constitute a change in, but is declaratory of, existing law.

SEC. 3.

The Legislature finds and declares that a special statute is necessary and that a general statute cannot be made applicable within the meaning of Section 16 of Article IV of the California Constitution because of the unique fiscal pressures being experienced in the County of Contra Costa.

 

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Governor Newsom signs bills ending police chokeholds, implementing other reforms

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Main graphic by Carotid Restraint Training Institute.

Requiring independent investigations of officer-involved shootings; reforming juvenile justice and probation systems to aid in rehabilitation and reentry

SACRAMENTO – In the wake of nationwide demonstrations against structural racism and systemic injustice, Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed a series of bills into law initiating critical criminal justice, juvenile justice and policing reforms in California. Delivering on his promise this summer to sign a bill ending the use of the carotid restraint, Governor Newsom signed AB 1196 by Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) which bans the practice statewide. The maneuver known as a chokehold, was banned by District Attorney Diana Becton for her Investigative Unit in June. (See related article).

Newsom also signed AB 1506 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) requiring the California Attorney General to conduct investigations into officer-involved shootings of unarmed individuals that result in death. He also took action on legislation that reforms the juvenile justice system to put more emphasis on rehabilitation and education, as well as creating a more just probation system.

“Americans across the country took to the streets this summer rightfully demanding more and better of our criminal justice system – and of ourselves,” said Governor Newsom. “We heard those calls for action loud and clear and today are advancing reforms to improve policing practices by ending the carotid hold and requiring independent investigations in officer-involved shootings. We are also taking important steps to break the school-to-prison pipeline. Still, we can and must do more. Working with our youth, faith and community leaders, law enforcement, the Legislature and countless others demanding change, my Administration remains committed to the important work ahead to make our criminal and juvenile justice systems fairer and safer for all Californians.”

Today’s action builds on Governor Newsom’s record enacting major change on criminal justice reform during his first years in office – from enacting one of the nation’s strongest police use-of-force standards, to putting a moratorium on the death penalty and shutting down California’s execution chamber, to closing prisons. The Administration will continue to work with the Legislature on additional reforms, including efforts to increase transparency in peace officer records and broader decertification measures to create accountability for officers with a history of misconduct.

Governor Newsom also took action today on important juvenile justice reforms. Building on the Governor’s commitment to end juvenile imprisonment as we know it, he signed several bills to support young people coming out of the criminal justice system and to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. SB 823 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review takes the first, formal step of closing the Division of Juvenile Justice, which will help to provide youth rehabilitative services closer to home.

Other bills the Governor signed today that support youth include AB 901 by Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson), which will end the practice of referring youth who are having problems at school to probation programs. Additionally, SB 203 by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) requires that children under age 17 have an opportunity to consult with legal counsel before interrogation, and SB 1290 by Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) will cancel certain fees assessed on juvenile offenders and their families.

Finally, Governor Newsom signed AB 1950 by Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), which caps probation terms to a maximum of one year for misdemeanor offenses and two years for felonies.

Governor Newsom also signed:

  • AB 646 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) – Elections: voter eligibility.
  • AB 732 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) – County jails: prisons: incarcerated pregnant persons.
  • AB 846 by Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) – Public employment: public officers or employees declared by law to be peace officers.
  • AB 1304 by Assemblymember Marie Waldron (R-Escondido) – California MAT Re-Entry Incentive Program. A signing message can be found here.
  • AB 1775 by Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles) – False reports and harassment.
  • AB 2321 by Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles) – Juvenile court records: access.
  • AB 2425 by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) – Juvenile police records.
  • AB 2512 by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) – Death penalty: person with an intellectual disability.
  • AB 2606 by Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside) – Criminal justice: supervised release file.
  • AB 3043 by Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles) – Corrections: confidential calls.
  • AB 3234 by Assemblymember Philip Ting (D-San Francisco) – Public Safety. A signing message can be found here.
  • SB 480 by Senator Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera) – Law enforcement uniforms.
  • SB 1126 by Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee) – Juvenile court records.
  • SB 1196 by Senator Thomas Umberg (D-Santa Ana) – Price gouging.

 

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