In a few short weeks we will be heading into Fall with school having started for many of you and/or your children, grandchildren, even great grandchildren! With the legislative session winding down, I am proud to have gotten 17 bills to the Governor’s desk. I have worked with my staff to do some pretty incredible things for the District, including affordable housing, funds for South Monterey County dam repairs, and millions for local projects in our communities. As Chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education, I have been dogged in supporting our public education system through the troubles we are seeing at the local, state, and federal level. In particular, I have advocated for billions of dollars to go towards the creation of student housing at the California Community College, California State University, and University of California system levels. We must ensure students are able to focus on their studies and not where they will rest their head for the night.
We all know fire season is in full swing, but did you know that CAL FIRE needs your input with their 2024 strategic plan? Click here to learn more about this process and how to help ensure CAL FIRE is equipped to protect our communities. If you need help with wildfire preparedness, please go to Ready for Wildfire to learn about all the resources available to harden your home and to create defensible space. Firefighters put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis, and we must honor the sacrifice they often take on our behalf. That is why I was honored to introduce SB 623 this year to help our firefighters and first responders. An interview I recently had on Spectrum News regarding the bill can be found in my ‘Capitol Update’ section.
Seals and sea lions are also a big topic in the district, which is why I wanted to give a special thanks to the Marine Mammal Center (MMR) for the tremendous work they do protecting the wildlife in California. I wanted to share some photos my team recently took of MMR staff saving a sea lion with plastic around its neck. If you see any injured marine animals and want to report it, please call 415-289-7325(SEAL).
As always, please reach out to my staff if you have any comments or concerns regarding issues you are facing with state departments and agencies. I have district offices in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo, staffed with knowledgeable public servants who can assist you on state legislative matters.
Senator, 17th District
Sacramento has been abuzz during our last few weeks of the legislative session. I wanted to take the chance to fill you in on some recent developments here in our State Capitol. The State Senate, long helmed by Sen. Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D - San Diego), the first woman and first openly gay person to lead the upper house, has agreed to a transition process starting in the new year that allows Sen. Mike McGuire (D - Healdsburg) to take the role as the Senate’s president pro tempore. Pro Tem Atkins has been a stalwart champion on a variety of issues such as LGBTQ+ rights and access to abortion, and the state of California is lucky to have had her leading the way these past five years. I look forward to working with Pro Tem Designee McGuire to ensure residents of the 17th Senate District continue to be represented and heard in the Golden State.
September 14th is the last day for bills to make it out of the legislature and onto the Governor’s desk. It is a mad dash to the finish, and I am so proud of all the work my team has done to fight for the constituents of the 17th Senate District. This includes the development of SB 623. This particular bill aims to prolong the existing PTSD presumption period by an additional seven years. Furthermore, it seeks to encompass 9-1-1 dispatchers and our dedicated state peace officers who confront traumatic situations on a frequent, almost daily basis. I spoke with Spectrum News at the end of August to discuss the importance of this bill (my interview starts at 4:00)
I wanted to also share three pieces of legislation I have had signed by the Governor this session. These bills provide tangible benefits for our communities, and I am glad they were able to be successfully shepherded through the lengthy legislative process.
SB 304 Monterey-Salinas Transit District
Helps our local transit agency remove a layer of bureaucracy by aligning the Monterey-Salinas Transit District's state limit of $100,000 with the Federal Transit Administration’s established federal limit of $150,000 to allow more efficient and effective procurement of supplies.
SB 564 Sheriff Fees
Allows an increase in fees for the services provided by sheriffs and marshals. Fees are collected for services rendered such as serving, executing, and processing required court notices, writs, orders, among other services. This bill helps recoup some costs our public safety officials incur when doing business on behalf of the residents of California.
SB 756 Cannabis Warrants
Helps address concerns with water quality and availability by giving the State Water Resources Control board more authority to investigate and pursue enforcement actions against illegal cannabis activity/cultivation. This bill protects not only our environment, but legal cannabis operators from illegitimate businesses.
This week it was announced that the joint Cabrillo College – UC Santa Cruz student housing project, selected in the Higher Education Student Housing Grant program, will be fully supported. I hear on a daily basis from my constituents about the hardships they face when it comes to housing, especially, in Santa Cruz County. Students are having to make really difficult choices about how or if they can continue their education in our community. That is why I have been dogged in ensuring the Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program was supported in a way that recognizes the economic burdens countless students face in not only our region, but California as a whole.
With this infusion of funding, the groundbreaking is anticipated for September 2024, and once completed in Fall 2026, the project will include a multi-story building with 624 beds; 376 reserved for Cabrillo students, and 248 for UCSC students. This project will serve as a model for our higher education systems to work collaboratively towards solving the all too serious and increasingly common issue of student homelessness.
For the full press release click here.
I often hear from colleagues how wonderful it must be to represent the Central Coast, and I tell them that I couldn't agree more. The decades I have spent living here shaped me into the person I am today. This community is unique and has always been a driving force in California culture. It is my honor to represent and be a part of this community with you. Below you will find a collection of photos from visits I have made recently in the district. To see more of my travels along the 17th District, please follow my social media.
Maria, owner of My Candy House in Seaside, was recently certified by the California Green Business Network. It was great to speak with her about her desire to be more green and sustainable. A smart business move for her store and the community!
I had the opportunity to speak at the Capitola City Council to discuss funding that was recently allocated, and where they thanked me for my support of the city. In return, they presented me with a beautiful Capitola Art & Wine Festival poster that I will proudly display in my Capitol office.
Great discussion with the Cambria Community Services District about how we can make the Central Coast the best it can be. A room full of knowledgeable folks working to get the job done on essential services.
Happy to tell my spouse that after this visit, we now have two artists in the house. I was grateful to spend time with my constituents who work at the Home Depot in Watsonville, learning about the passion they have for their job and their community as a whole.
Had a blast at Monterey Peninsula Pride celebrating the love and diversity this region has for their queer community! Did you know a majority of the cities on the Monterey Peninsula have an LGBTQ+ identifying council member? An outstanding accomplishment indeed.
Congratulations to Kathe Tanner for her legendary advocacy and journalistic prose, developed through decades of service at the San Luis Obispo Tribune and Cambrian. It was an honor to present her a certificate of recognition from the State Senate.
Meals on Wheels Monterey Peninsula serves some of our most vulnerable residents on the Peninsula. Great to visit their operations to get a first-hand glimpse into the magic they are able to achieve!
During the 2021-2022 legislative session, I was able to advocate for funding to help infrastructure improvements to the Point Sur Lighthouse, which is located in a California State Park, and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Construction is underway, and I am eagerly anticipating its completion.