December 2021 / Winter Newsletter

December 2021 / Winter Newsletter

New Laws
 

We introduced a number of bills this year focusing on good government, environmental protection, transportation planning, social and economic development, the arts and entertainment economy, and advocacy for vulnerable people. Governor Gavin Newsom signed seven of my bills into law, as well as several other measures I co-authored.

My Senate Bill 44 will speed up the approval process for green mass transit projects in Los Angeles County – work that will help more LA-area residents beat traffic and which will also be especially critical ahead of the 2028 Olympic Games.

My SB 343, is the first law in the nation (featured in The New York Times) to prevent manufacturers from using the triangular chasing-arrows symbol (also known as the recycling symbol) or any other suggestion that a material is easily recyclable if it is not.

Following fallout from the oil spill off the coast of Orange County, my SB 433 gives the California Coastal Commission the ability to issue penalties to perpetrators of oil spills, including those in federal waters. 

Last year, we introduced SB 45, which would have invested bond funding to reduce risk from climate impacts such as fire, drought, and sea level rise. Thankfully, my colleagues and I came to agreement on more urgent funding that avoids long-term borrowing. Combined with major budget actions, SB 170 and SB 155 dedicate more than $10 billion over the next three years to address the impacts we are already seeing as a result of rising temperatures. The investments we make now will both mitigate against the worst impacts of climate change and ensure that our communities are better prepared for the challenges to come.

After the Los Angeles Times examined how an exponential boom in hospice care providers “spawned a cottage industry of illegal practices, including kickbacks to crooked doctors and recruiters,” my SB 664 became law and, while the State Auditor investigates the industry, no new hospice licenses will be issued.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed vital Census data needed for the decennial redrawing of political district boundaries (“redistricting”). When the City of Beverly Hills brought this issue to my attention, I authored SB 590 to prevent prolonged vacancies of some local offices by extending the terms for municipal officials that are set to expire in spring 2022 to align with the June statewide primary election. 

And inspired in part by the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration, I authored SB 628 to establish the Creative Workforce Development Act of 2021, which will provide employment and job training for artists and creative sector workers through public programs, with a focus on uplifting disadvantaged communities that may not otherwise have opportunities to pursue careers in the arts.

This fall, I continued highlighting the need for updating our state’s century-old recall election system. The possibility of replacing an elected official with someone who receives less votes is profoundly undemocratic. I am working on one idea to address this and looking into several more angles with legislative colleagues, local elections administrators, and public policy experts. I recently had the opportunity to testify to the State's Little Hoover Commission on this topic.

 

Supporting Businesses

Another highlight of recent months was honoring the 26th Senate District Small Business of the Year. Door To Door Cleaners typically serves the Beverly Hills, Brentwood, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Pacific Palisades, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood communities with an array of textile and garment care services. In spite of challenging circumstances and closures due to the pandemic, this business owned by the Veera family stepped up to meet the sudden demand for PPE to sew facial coverings for frontline medical workers, producing more than 5,000 homemade masks in the first two months.

I’ve really enjoyed visiting dozens of small businesses in our region while the legislature is in recess. In October, for example, I participated in the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce’s tour where we heard from some of the neighborhood’s fantastic small businesses about the challenges of navigating this pandemic.

On the broader level, in March, the legislature and governor activated an economic relief package that included more than $2.1 billion in grants supporting California’s small businesses. We also approved a program to allow companies to deduct up to $150,000 in expenses covered by loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Plan. And in late April, the legislature and governor gave the small businesses hit hardest by the pandemic a $6.2 billion tax cut over the next six years

When we approved the Fiscal Year 2021-22 State Budget, we provided Californians with billions more in pandemic-related relief as well as support for small businesses and nonprofit organizations, as well as substantial investments in education, health, social services, and infrastructure.

Another important piece of legislation I coauthored this year was Assembly Bill 80 by Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D – Inglewood), which made Paycheck Protection Program-related COVID-19 relief tax free for our state’s businesses. Similarly, I coauthored AB 61 by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D – Woodland Hills) which provided restaurants with more flexibility to safely expand outdoor dining as they continue to weather the pandemic.

 

Reliable and Safe Housing

I’ve also been working to ensure that folks have access to rental relief resources. In addition to providing one-on-one constituent assistance, I hosted a webinar regarding the end of the eviction moratorium and the considerable aid still available that helps keep tenants housed and their landlords properly compensated. If you missed it, you can watch the webinar here and view information from the panelists here.

On the housing safety front, I joined Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and renowned seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones to host an earthquake preparedness webinar. The pandemic made it clear that we need to be more proactive about natural disasters and widespread emergencies. The next life-altering event in southern California could be "the big one" – an earthquake so large that it disrupts our way of living for weeks, months, or even years. We discussed what we can do as renters, homeowners, and community leaders to prepare ourselves and our neighbors, including helpful tips that covered everything from tsunami risk to thoughts on where to leave a spare pair of shoes and whether to buy earthquake insurance. Watch that informative webinar here.

Around the District…   

I joined my fellow Legislative Jewish Caucus members to celebrate the $2.5 million we secured for the Museum of the Holocaust Los Angeles’ expansion project. The Jewish Caucus was also honored by the Simon Weisenthal Center / Museum of Tolerance for our sustained contributions to the community.

I spent a Saturday with Los Angeles City Council member Nithya Raman and her team going door-to-door to share rent relief resources with our Hollywood residents.

Participating in Redondo Beach’s beautiful Veterans Day Memorial Service was a special opportunity to reflect on the debt of gratitude we owe to those who put their lives on the line for our nation.

I joined Assemblymember Richard Bloom, Jane Fonda, and Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris in Laguna Beach in support of Senator Dave Min’s legislation to end dangerous drilling off of California’s coast.

 

Just before Thanksgiving, Santa Monica College staff and volunteers stepped up to ensure that no SMC student went hungry. Food insecurity is a major issue in higher education. U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and I joined them in their commitment. Check out this video about the effort here.

At the British Consulate Residence in Los Angeles, I spent an evening discussing climate change with California colleagues and global leaders to mark the commencement of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

Ezra and I loved watching the Major League Baseball playoffs. ¡Vamos Los Doyers! We'll get 'em next year.

And, we had a wonderful Halloween!

Melanie and I had a fun date night celebrating the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, an extraordinary new addition to LA’s arts and culture scene. And speaking of the Academy Museum, I also had the privilege of presenting Jacqueline Stewart, the Chief Artistic Programming Officer for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, with a certificate celebrating her receipt of the MacArthur Genius Grant award.

It was great visiting Palos Verdes High School and meeting and speaking to sharp AP Environmental Sciences and biology students.