The COVID-19 pandemic transformed 2020 into one of the most unprecedented and historic legislative sessions. As soon as the stay-at-home order took effect in March, the Senate began developing a path forward for the people of our state, relying on science and public health guidelines in navigating the people’s business. We announced in April that we would narrow our bill focus to the most pressing issues facing California, especially the pandemic and the economic recovery. It is because of this necessary decision that this page looks a bit different than it does for other years. While some of my bills were postponed for a year, I’m proud of the incredible work my colleagues and I were able to accomplish to help families, many of whom have suffered great loss during the pandemic. Here are a few accomplishments I would like to highlight:
AB 3088, the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act: AB 3088, authored by Senators Steve Bradford (D-Gardena) and Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), protects renters from evictions due to a COVID-related hardship until February 1, 2021, but still holds them responsible for paying unpaid amounts to landlords. It also provides additional legal and financial protections for tenants, provides statewide consistency on local ordinances, and protects small landlords by extending the Homeowners' Bill of Rights' anti-foreclosure protections.
The Senate enacted a state budget that protected education funding, maintained key new investments including homelessness funding and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for working Californians, avoided new taxes on middle class Californians, prevented cuts in vital services for seniors and other vulnerable Californians and still set aside $11.3 billion in General Fund reserves.
We also allocated up to $1 billion for lifesaving care and COVID-19 prevention, addressed efforts to reduce the spread of the virus among those experiencing homelessness, increased protective equipment and supplies for schools, and enacted programs and resources for Californians related to the crisis, from tax deferrals to matching existing job opening with California applicants.
SB 1383, Unlawful employment practice: California Family Rights Act: Authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), SB 1383 would allow up to 12 weeks of family leave, including those caring for a family member with COVID-19.
Racial Justice and Police Reform
The legislature also sought ways to address the overwhelming call for change spurred by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Jacob Blake, and too many others. We passed several bills to help remove some of the stains of racism from our social fabric, including a bill banning carotid holds and chokeholds, and legislation that requires the Department of Justice to investigate police killings of unarmed civilians. We also passed a bill, authored by San Diego's Assemblymember Shirley Weber, requiring all CSU undergraduates to take at least one three-unit ethnic studies course.
Additional Legislative Highlights
AB 2731 - California Environmental Quality Act: City of San Diego: Old Town Center redevelopment: I joined Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) as a co-author on AB 2731. This bill supports revitalization efforts for the Navy’s Old Town Campus, which could induce billions in economic activity, support jobs, create housing, and directly connect the airport to transit.
Led by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), the Legislature passed LGBTQ-focused legislation that strengthens data reporting to include sexual orientation and gender identity during health crises like COVID-19, expanded mental health support for LGBTQ youth, and ensured that transgender people in custody are housed according to their gender identity.