My first year in office as your state Senator is flying by. We wrapped up the 2015 legislative session, and by all accounts it was one of the most productive in recent memory.Problems viewing this E-mail? Please click here.
Senator Ben Allen

Dear Friend,

My first year in office as your state Senator is flying by. We wrapped up the 2015 legislative session, and by all accounts it was one of the most productive in recent memory. In this edition of my newsletter, I'll update you on the highlights of what we accomplished, and the outcome of several legislative initiatives I was active in, including the Senate's climate change package, our push to improve the state's crumbling roads and transit infrastructure, as well as school budgeting.

In the district, I've had a chance to participate in many wonderful community events, such as a strategy session with local leaders on coping with the drought, a roundtable discussion with tech entrepreneurs of Silicon Beach, touring the William O. Douglas Outdoor Education Camp in the Santa Monica Mountains and so much more. I am continually humbled by the task of representing such a vibrant and diverse district, and will continue to do my best to serve our community.

Senator Ben Allen
Senator, 26th District
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Climate change

Legislative highlights

Alzheimer's policy

Arts education

South Bay oil spill

Woman of the Year

CalVet's new leader

Traffic ticket amnesty

Silicon Beach

Photo album

California Leads on Climate Change

Senators and Assemblymembers with Governor Brown, signing SB350

The California Senate pushed the envelope on climate change this year, and successfully spearheaded landmark legislation that sets us on a course to generate half of the state's electricity from renewable energy sources, and double energy efficiency in all buildings, by 2030. I was pleased to coauthor this far-reaching measure, Senate Bill 350 (SB 350), which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 7, 2015. With SB 350, we are making clean power sources like wind and solar the mainstream, benefiting our economy and the environment at the same time. An unprecedented coalition of leaders from the business, scientific, public health and environmental communities came together to support the legislation and advocate for healthier and cleaner air for the Golden State.

Highlights of 2015 Legislative Session

California Flag and Capital Building

By all accounts, the legislature had one of the most productive years in recent memory. Here are just a few of the highlights of the major policies enacted in 2015:

  • Climate change - we enacted a landmark measure requiring 50% of energy to come from renewable sources, and increasing energy efficiency in buildings by 50% by 2030.
  • Drought response - responding to the fourth year of the drought crisis, we made investments in water conservation, recycled water, and storm water capture.
  • California Fair Pay Act - we passed the strongest equal pay law in the country to help ensure women are paid the same amount as their male colleagues for similar work.
  • Poverty - to counter poverty among the lowest-income workers, we established an Earned Income Tax Credit that will provide tax relief to two million families.
  • Medical cannabis - we adopted a long-overdue regulatory framework that strikes a balance between the rights of patients and the needs of local government and law enforcement.
  • End of life options - we passed a compassionate law that will allow an adult with a terminal disease who has the capacity to make medical decisions and who has less than six months to live, to make an end of life decision.
  • Small businesses - we passed legislation allowing small businesses the chance to correct ADA issues prior to any penalties being imposed.
  • Balanced state budget - we enacted a balanced, on-time state budget that invests in education, and sets aside reserves for a future economic downturn.

I'm proud to say that six of my bills became law, including the groundbreaking bill to increase vaccination rates among school children. Other successful bills dealt with protecting veterans from pension scams, fixing the implementation of public school science standards, regulating a type of mining that has polluted many of our state's rivers, setting guidelines for dementia and Alzheimer's care providers, and laying the groundwork for a new way to conduct elections that will increase voter turnout. The legislative work will continue when the legislature reconvenes in January, and I plan to focus my efforts on teacher recruitment, election reform and transit funding.

Alzheimer's Bill Becomes Law

Arts Education in Schools

Old lady and old man

Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law my bill to help persons suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia. It was wonderful to have the support of the California Commission on Aging, the Alzheimer's Association, and so many others advocating for this policy change that will update the guidelines used by physicians, and improve the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of persons living with these illnesses. Patricia Disney, Roy Disney's granddaughter, wrote a touching column which ran in the Sacramento Bee urging passage of my bill, and telling of her family's struggle as her mother succumbed to this heartbreaking illness. You can read it here.

Senator Allen speaking

Did you know that all public schools are required by law to incorporate visual and performing arts into the K-12 curriculum? Few people are aware of this requirement, which may explain why so many of our schools are not complying. As chair of the legislature's Joint Committee on the Arts, I held an oversight hearing to examine why arts education is not more widespread. We know that exposing children to the arts, whether it is dance, music, drama, painting, or any other creative activity can have an amazing impact on their future academic and social success, so it is vital that we find ways to motivate schools to follow the law.

More than 100 people took the time to attend our hearing, and to listen to the engaging discussion of the issue. To watch a video of the hearing, click here. The Los Angeles Times ran an in-depth piece on this topic that ranked every school in Los Angeles Unified School District on their compliance with the arts education mandate. You can find out how your local school fared here. Let me know what you think - send me a comment on my website to offer your thoughts about arts education in schools.

Accountability for the South Bay oil spill

Senators Allen and Jackson

On May 19, 2015, a pipeline leaked more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil at Gaviota Beach in Santa Barbara County, with 21,000 gallons reaching the Pacific Ocean -- our state's worst oil spill in 25 years. This spill also took a toll on our South Bay beaches forcing the closure of an eight mile stretch of coastline from El Segundo to Torrance after tar balls began washing up on the shores. Laboratory tests confirmed the tar balls were the result of the Refugio spill.

To examine how and why this spill happened, and to establish policies to prevent future spills, the state Senate established the Select Committee on the Refugio Oil Spill, on which I serve. We immediately proposed three measures that have now been signed into law to improve our response to oil spills and strengthen prevention efforts. We also held a hearing in Manhattan Beach to hear from the community their views on the effectiveness of the South Bay cleanup effort, the impact of the beach closure on the local economy, and what policy changes should be made to improve the process in the future. Thank you to Heal the Bay, the LA County Lifeguards Association, the Surfrider Foundation, former Mayor Wayne Powell and so many others for coming out to engage in a productive discussion of how we can work together to improve prevention and response to future oil spills, and ultimately protect our spectacular coastline.

Woman of the Year Celebration

Woman of the Year

In a rich tradition dating back to 1987, the California State Senate commemorates Women's History Month by recognizing remarkable women throughout the state who make a positive difference in their communities. As part of this year's celebration, I was pleased to honor Stacey Anne Armato, a resident of Hermosa Beach, as our Senate District 26 "Woman of the Year." Ms. Armato's many achievements include serving on the board of directors of BreastfeedLA, and leading the effort that helped keep Hermosa Beach free from oil drilling. Congratulations to Stacey Anne Armato on receiving this award!

New Leadership at CalVet

Dr. Vito Imbasciani

Congratulations to the new Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet), my friend Dr. Vito Imbasciani, a resident of our own Senate District 26. Vito has been director of government relations at the Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group since 2004, and a urologic surgeon since 1997. He was state surgeon for the California Army National Guard from 2006 to 2014 and a surgeon in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. I know that he is deeply committed to the well-being of our veterans, and he'll be an excellent leader for the department.

CalVet assists the nearly 2 million veterans living in our state and their families in accessing the government benefits and services they've earned by their honorable military service. As a member of the state Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, I now have the privilege of being involved in policy changes that help our veterans after they return to civilian life. To learn more about some of the issues tackled by the committee recently, click here. There is much more work to be done to support our veterans and their families, and I look forward to working closely with my friend, Dr. Imbasciani, to continue to address the ongoing challenges faced by veterans and their families.

Traffic Ticket Amnesty Program - Don't Miss Out

Cars stuck in traffic

Earlier this year, the legislature passed an 18-month amnesty program to help California drivers who have outstanding traffic tickets, and those whose licenses have been suspended for nonpayment of those fines. This program, which will be in effect through March, 2017, will reduce fines by 50% to 80% and penalties may be waived. The violations must have occurred prior to January 1, 2013. Driving under the influence (DUI), reckless driving, parking and other local violations are not eligible.

Under the amnesty program, persons whose driver's license has been suspended will be allowed to pay a fee and apply to have their license reinstated, if they meet eligibility requirements. A video explaining the program in more detail can be seen online here. For more information, contact the superior court in the jurisdiction where the ticket was issued. You can find a court locator online.

Silicon Beach Roundtable Discussion

Silicon Beach roundtable discussion

We are fortunate to have many outstanding tech companies choosing to locate in and around Playa Vista, bringing good jobs and a new vibrancy to the area now known as Silicon Beach. I recently convened a roundtable discussion with leaders of several of those companies to hear their ideas about how our region can become an even more powerful dynamo for the innovation economy. It was the first of what I hope will be many productive conversations. If you have thoughts or suggestions on how state government can support the growth of the tech industry locally and around California, send me a note through my website.

Photo Album

Senator Allen touring the Kaiser Permanente facility in Playa Vista.

Grand opening of a permanent building for Hollywood High School's Wellness Center.

Touring the Los Angeles Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center, shown here with Alan Acosta, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Dave Garcia.

Team Allen participating in LA AIDS Walk.

Senator Allen on a visit to Lincoln Middle School, which he attended long ago.

Mattel corporate headquarters in El Segundo.

Pediatric Therapy Network Halloween Ball.

Palos Verdes Rotary Club's "Educator of the Year Awards."

Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce legislative forum.

Senate Allen meeting with students of St. Anne's School.

Senator Allen discussing issues with the West Hollywood Leadership Council.

California State Senator Ben Allen - District 26
Contact: Senator Ben Allen
Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 5072
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4026
Fax: (916) 651-4926
District Office
2512 Artesia Blvd., #320
Redondo Beach, CA 90278-3279
Phone: (310) 318-6994
Fax: (310) 318-6733 

California State Senate Majority Caucus (c) 2017 California State Senate