Happy New Year! January is a good time to regroup, recover, and recharge after the busy holiday season. For the State Senate, January also means returning to Sacramento for the second year of our legislative session.
During the legislative recess, I enjoyed taking part in dozens of meetings and events in the 39th Senate District, which focused on everything from affordable housing to human trafficking to celebrating the achievements of local businesses and community leaders. Now, I’m eager to join my colleagues for another productive year in the State Capitol.
Our annual deliberations on the state budget begin this month after Governor Newsom announces his initial proposal. Then, the Senate Budget Committee moves forward with its review. Last year, we enacted a bold and responsible budget that included record funding for education, strong reserves in case of economic downturns, and addressed several important projects in our region. I believe this year’s budget will be equally beneficial.
Two areas where we made major investments last year—health care and housing—will again be the subject of legislation in 2020. While we increased the number of Californians with access to health care and reduced the cost of health care for middle-class Californians, the Legislature must continue to work with the Governor on the path toward health care for all. Because there is not enough affordable housing construction to meet the need, we have to fix that by being thoughtful about building homes in places that will increase access to jobs, reduce the time people have to spend in their cars, and help us meet California’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Our region has a strong recreation and tourism industry, and is home to the largest concentration of military facilities in the world. Because these vital sectors of our economy all face threats from climate change, especially sea level rise, I am particularly pleased that the Senate will be advancing a $4.1 billion bond measure that will help communities invest in climate resiliency—including addressing sea level rise, preparing for droughts, and preventing wildfires.
In fact, wildfire preparation will continue to be one of our highest priorities in 2020—and beyond. In November, the Senate held a hearing to examine issues involving the power shutoffs Californians have endured during our ever-expanding fire season. Another hearing is scheduled later this month to focus on telecommunications issues that arise during wildfires. San Diego’s experience in establishing recovery and prevention protocols after the 2003 and 2007 fires was basically learn-as-we-go. Having been through that reinforces my belief that California needs a comprehensive wildfire action plan, implemented in a timely and transparent manner so Californians know what to expect, and when.
No doubt it will be a busy and challenging year ahead, but one filled with many opportunities to make California an even better place to live.
I hope 2020 will also be a year of health and happiness for you and your loved ones.
With California’s population of residents over 65 anticipated to grow by 8.6 million by 2030, it’s critical we take action now to prepare for their needs, especially as it relates to housing.
Helping our senior population, with a focus on housing, was central to several bills on aging this past legislative session. It also was at the heart of a roundtable discussion I co-hosted, along with Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly, in San Diego last month.
The roundtable was focused on addressing housing challenges facing seniors and highlighting innovative programs in our region, such as our nonprofit housing and social services partnerships, which can be instructive in helping other communities learn how to better serve seniors in the rest of the state.
The roundtable also offered a chance for lawmakers, public and nonprofit officials to discuss efforts to help seniors age in place, innovative programs and efforts underway to make rental units more affordable, wraparound services, and strategies for keeping seniors housed, and aging in place when possible.
Strengthening programs for California’s seniors will remain a focal point of this year, especially as Governor Newsom’s task force develops the Master Plan on Aging, which is anticipated in October 2020.
This past year, we also ensured that the state budget included more than $135 million in funding for seniors and individuals with disabilities, including $5 million to expand the No Wrong Door system throughout the state and passed a bill to compliment support for that system.
Too often, seniors and family caregivers don’t know where to turn, but the No Wrong Door referral hub will help them find, and use, services to access.
We also worked hard on legislation to aid our seniors, and come January, several Senate and Assembly bills intended to help seniors and address housing issues will become law.
- Requiring the Department of Housing and Community Development to consider changes to building standards that promote aging in place.
- The “Senior and Disability Justice Act,” which requires local law enforcement agencies to provide information and training about elder and dependent adult abuse.
- Prohibiting a licensed health care professional from charging a fee for the completion of the required eligibility form for the In Home Supportive Services program.
- Strengthening protections for residents of Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (aka Assisted Living facilities) by requiring disclosure of ownership to the licensing entity in order to track problem providers.
- Requiring the California Health and Human Services secretary, in developing the Master Plan for Aging, to consider a statewide application to join the AART Network of Age-Friendly State and Communities (as San Diego has done).
- A law that protects renters from indiscriminate rate increases and eviction.
- Expanding protections for renters against housing discrimination for renters who receive public assistance and housing subsidies.
- Laws to enable the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which may widen the ability for seniors to continue to live at home or with caregivers.
All too often, we read or hear heartbreaking accounts of seniors unable to remain in their homes, on the brink of homelessness, or bouncing in and out of care facilities due to red tape. Or we experience those issues firsthand as our own loved ones age.
We must continue to find ways to support seniors statewide in their homes, including expansion of existing programs and building on successes of good programs in communities like San Diego.
Our aging neighbors add so much to our communities, developing the resources and programs that will help them live their best lives benefits not only them, but all of California.
Your voice, thoughts, and priorities, are wanted as 2020 begins and another Legislative session gets underway. Please kindly take a minute to share your ideas and opinions with us via the California Issues Survey.
The Legislature exists to affirm the values of our constituents through policy and laws that protect California and its residents, and it’s important that we hear your thoughts on specific legislation or issues important to the San Diego community, and more broadly, California.
Your ideas can make a difference!
Click here to take the survey: www.senate.ca.gov/7010/survey
If you have any questions or need additional information, please call the Senate District 39 office at (619) 645-3133.
Beginning October 1, 2020, you will need a passport or a federally-approved document to fly within the United States or enter a secure federal building. If you don’t want to carry those documents with you, you can choose to get a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card. With a REAL ID, you’ll be able to travel within the country and enter secure federal facilities. To find out if the REAL ID is right for you, visit the DMV website: https://realid.dmv.ca.gov/.
Your opportunity to be counted in the 2020 Census is just around the corner and for the first time ever you can choose to submit the survey online or through the mail. In addition to giving a voice to our communities, data collected from the national survey determines the fate of millions of dollars in federal funding, as well as each state’s allotment of Congressional Representatives. With more hard-to-count communities than any other state, it’s imperative that we all play a role in getting a complete Census count in California. To learn more about the Census, visit the CA Census website: https://californiacensus.org/.
Social Media Corner
Even the Grinch couldn’t steal the festive holiday spirit felt at South Park’s Holiday Walkabout & Luminaria!
Holiday cheer was on full display at the North Park Toyland Parade! 56 years and counting, this celebration never disappoints!
My friend Assemblymember Todd Gloria and I hung ornaments dedicated to loved ones affected by
AIDS during the annual World AIDS Day Tree of Life Ceremony. A big thank you to Mama’s Kitchen, who put on the event.
I was thrilled to attend the grand opening of Affirmed Housing Group’s new affordable housing
complexes in the Grantville community. With these two complexes, the neighborhood has 160 new units!